June Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 8, Issue 9                                                                      June 2019


Inside this issue

Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation

Barbara Burrows
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges

Pradeep Kotamraju
Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education

Heather Doe
Communications Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges

New reports show community college programs lead to high employment, earnings

outcome report

The majority of students who earn awards from Iowa community colleges, particularly in career and technical programs, remain in Iowa after program completion. They also have higher rates of employment and higher earnings than other students who directly enter the workforce without completing an award, according to an analysis of education, employment, and wage patterns of Iowa community college graduates.

The Iowa Community Colleges Education Outcomes report analyzes the outcomes of students completing credit programs offered by Iowa’s 15 community colleges that lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. The Iowa Community Colleges Employment Outcomes report analyzes the outcomes of students enrolled in noncredit programs designed to expedite the attainment of marketplace skills.

Among the findings:

Iowa Community Colleges Education Outcomes Report: Certificate, Diploma, and Associate Degree Programs

  • A total of 83.3 percent of Iowa community college graduates remain in Iowa after completing their programs.
  • Nearly one-third of all community college graduates of credit programs are over the age of 25.
  • College parallel/liberal arts, health science professions, business management and marketing, and mechanics and repairers account for the majority of awards earned at Iowa’s community colleges.
  • Students who received an associate of applied science degree in registered nursing, dental hygiene, diesel mechanics technology, lineworker, and commercial vehicle operation had the highest wages in the year following their award.

Iowa Community Colleges Employment Outcomes Report: Noncredit Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs

  • A total of 83.6 percent of Iowa community college noncredit CTE program graduates remain in Iowa after completing their programs.
  • Over 60 percent of students enrolled in noncredit programs are over the age of 25.
  • More than two-thirds of all community college noncredit CTE students enrolled in programs related to health science and transportation, distribution and logistics.
  • Median quarterly wages increased 13.2 percent from the year prior to enrollment in a noncredit CTE program to the year following completion.

For more information about the research, contact Paula Nissen, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov, or at 515-418-8273.

Degree reclamation efforts underway


Two degree reclamation efforts are currently underway that will help students receive postsecondary credentials. Degree reclamation is a combination of evidence-based and equity-focused strategies that help institutions re-engage the “some college, no degree” population and provide them with targeted supports to aid in their completion of associate degrees. The first project focuses on community college leavers who have earned enough credits for an award or who are close to earning an award. The other project focuses on granting associate degrees to students who transfer to public universities.

As part of the data analysis for the Iowa Community College Completers and Leavers report, the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation identified students who were no longer enrolled at each Iowa community college, but who had earned sufficient credits to receive an award, as well as those who were close to earning an award, but never finished. A working group of chief student services officers, chief academic officers, and academic deans convened to review data sets, verify the information, and pilot efforts that could be scaled to institutions statewide.

The second project, reverse credit transfer (RCT),  enables Iowa community college students who transfer to one of the state's public universities before earning an award, to transfer credits back to their community college to retroactively receive an associate degree.

A RCT advisory committee oversees this work and is currently exploring ways to expand RCT to the public universities' direct-from-high school application, streamline degree audits, and align community college residency requirements.  Thousands of Iowa high school students who completed community college coursework prior to high school graduation could be eligible for the program. To date, Iowa's public universities have exchanged 2,843 student files with Iowa community colleges via the National Student Clearinghouse. The total number of awards granted will be available later this year. 

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at 515-725-2247, or at chris.russell@iowa.gov, with comments or questions.

Input sought for secondary CTE standards


The Iowa Department of Education is seeking the public’s input on proposed standards for secondary career and technical education (CTE).

The standards were developed over the last year by program management teams consisting of secondary and postsecondary educators and administrators, business and industry partners, and staff from the Department and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. Public input is being sought specifically in the areas of agriculture, food and natural resources; business, finance, marketing, and management; health sciences; human services; and information solutions. Work will begin on standards for applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing later this year.

Feedback through online surveys, which will be open through June 13, will be incorporated into the teams’ final recommendations for the State Board of Education this fall. If adopted, the CTE standards will be a mandatory requirement for school districts.

Please contact Pat Thieben, Administrative Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at 515-281-4707, or at pat.thieben@iowa.gov.with comments or questions.

Built for college completion, Pottawattamie Promise breaks down barriers

Iowa Western 2

Going to college wasn’t an expectation when Breana Rocha was growing up. No one in her family had ever been to college. The process seemed intimidating, and she always thought it was financially out of reach for her family.

But that all changed her sophomore year at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs. The school was participating in a new program for low-income students that would help her prepare for college while in high school and provide support services during college. And here’s the kicker – the program would also cover the full cost, including room and board, for her to earn an associate degree or other credit credential at Iowa Western Community College.

Click to read more

New funding unleashes Future Ready Iowa opportunities

Please spread the word within your networks about three new Future Ready Iowa funding opportunities to help Iowans get the education and training required for great jobs and to help employers get the skilled workers they need.   

More than $16 million in new funding became available through bills signed by Gov. Reynolds in May. Most of the money will fund three programs:

  • The Last Dollar Scholarship program, which prepares Iowans for high-demand jobs by paying tuition for those who enroll in one of 48 eligible programs.
  • Future Ready Iowa Grant program, which provides tuition support to Iowans who have completed at least two years of a four-year degree in a high-demand field.
  • Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund, a grant program to help communities carry out initiatives that address local workforce issues.

A communications toolkit is available online to help stakeholders learn about these opportunities and to share information about them through multiple platforms.  

For more information about Future Ready Iowa, visit futurereadyiowa.gov.

WebMIS project enters practical impementation phase

Data management

The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation's WebMIS project (implemented by Mobius) has entered the practical implementation phase.

Mobius has built and demonstrated a static HTML prototype of the upcoming system, which will consist of "modules", such as User Management, Master Dashboard, Data Uploads, Non-Credit Program Catalog, and Data Validation, among others.

The first module, User Management, is now active, and the Department has assigned core personnel and community college administrators to become system users. College administrators, in turn, can assign college users, noncredit catalog users/contributors, and QA users (subject matters specialists who analyze and approve data summaries before the data is sent to the Department). 

By now, those designated as system administrators for each community college should have received automated notifications informing them that they have been added to the system. Many administrators have already accessed the module and added internal uses, which provides empirical evidence that the first module is working as planned. We encourage those who have not yet accessed the module to do so, and to begin adding internal college users. Please be assured that this is not just a practical exercise, as all the user arrangements created by the college administrators will be migrated to the production server after all tests are finished.

For more information about the WebMIS project, contact Vlad Bassis, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at     vladimir.bassis@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-3671.

Registration now open for the 2019 HiSET/Iowa Adult Education and Literacy summer conference

Adult Ed conference

Registration is open for the 2019 HiSET®/Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Summer Conference to be held July 15-17 at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown.

The conference, titled Fielding Their Dreams, will include best practices, emerging trends, and instructional strategies in adult education. The sessions are aimed at administrators and educators who help adults get the basic skills they need, including reading, writing, math, English language proficiency, and problem-solving to be productive workers, family members, and citizens. Professionals in adult and family literacy and those who address workforce initiatives also are encouraged to attend.

Iowa attendees receive a discounted registration fee of $150. Please contact Marissa Goodwin at mgoodwin@ets.org if the fee amount is higher on the registration site and she will issue you an Iowa attendee invitation to register.

A schedule and summary of all conference sessions are available on the conference website.

Please contact Alex Harris, State Director for Adult Education, Bureau of Community Colleges, at 515-281-3640, or at alex.harris@iowa.gov with comments or questions.

North Central Career Academy taps into rural Iowa's potential

Eagle Grove

How do you prepare students to succeed in college and careers? Students at the North Central Career Academy say it’s about stepping outside your comfort zone, meeting new people, gaining real-world experience in high-demand fields, and earning college credit. Oh, and it’s not just for the urban kids in population-dense school districts.

Located in Eagle Grove, population 3,428, the North Central Career Academy serves six area school districts within a 30 mile radius— Clarion Goldfield-Dows, Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge (including St.  Edmonds Catholic School), Humboldt, and Webster City. Students attending this regional center have access to college-level programming through Iowa Central Community College, state-of-the-art equipment, and career pathways in some of the state’s most in-demand fields.

Click to read more

Seeking nominations for the Archie Willard Educator of the Year

The Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Literacy Council are currently accepting nominations for the 2019 Archie Willard Educator of the Year award.

The award is in memory of Archie Willard, whom many consider to be the grandfather of Iowa’s adult education and literacy programs. It recognizes educators who embody the value and principles that Willard demonstrated through his dedication to increase access to adult education and literacy across the nation.

Nominees must currently work in an adult education and literacy program in the state of Iowa and have a minimum of 12 months of experience in the field. The winner will be recognized at the 2019 HiSET®/Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Summer Conference scheduled for July 15-17 in Des Moines.

Please contact Alex Harris, State Director for Adult Education, Bureau of Community Colleges, at  515-281-3640, or alex.harris@iowa.gov for more information.

New website sets the stage for work-based learning clearninghouse


A new website has launched that will eventually house a virtual space where business partners can post projects for Iowa K-12 students to gain in-depth work experience, bringing real-world application into the schools.

The Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning site currently includes work-based learning resources, success stories, and toolkits for schools and businesses.

The virtual space housing hands-on business projects for K-12 students will go live July 1.

Click to read more

Students get hands-on experience at 'Build My Future' event

Build my Future

Nearly 3,000 central Iowa students from more than 30 high schools ranging from Adel-Desoto-Minburn to Winterset, and everywhere in between, filled the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds this spring to learn more about the wide range of careers in construction and skilled trades.

The Build My Future event, which showcases high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers in Iowa’s skilled trades, allows students to explore and participate in hands-on activities in carpentry, electricity, welding, roofing, masonry, plumbing, advanced manufacturing, computer-aided design, architecture modeling, heavy equipment, and more. This immersive event puts students in the middle of the action so they can see the different career paths available in Iowa with varying levels of training and education required.

Click to read more

Staffing announcements



Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju, Chief of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education (CTE), will be departing this month to become the Director of the College and Career Division of the California Department of Education. In that role, he will be state director of CTE and guide the state's Perkins V implementation. 

Under his capable leadership over the past five and a half years, great strides have been made. We are certain California will benefit from his extensive experience leading CTE in Minnesota and Iowa and his leadership at the National Research Center for CTE. We wish him the best in his new endeavor.


Stephanie Weeks will be retiring on June 27, after 40 years of service.  For the past 27 years, she has served as the assistant to five different division administrators within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation.

Stephanie has held many administrative responsibilities that resulted in our smooth operation and superior service to stakeholders. She has a deep knowledge of the Department and its processes and could always be counted on to take the initiative to resolve any challenges.  She has worked closely with the community college presidents and their assistants, the Community College Council, other Department divisions, and partner agencies.  Prior to working with the Division, she supported the Director of Career Education and various career and technical student organizations from 1979 - 1992.  She has received the Governor's Golden Dome Award for Employee of the Year, as well as a Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Association of Future Farmers of America.

Kelli Diemer

Kelli Diemer will be retiring on June 27, after 11 years of service. She has worked at the Department as an education consultant with the business and marketing disciplines as well as entrepreneurship and work-based learning.

Kelli helped start the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators Organization in 2013, which launched a statewide conference that has grown to over 250 attendees. In addition, she oversaw the Iowa Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network, which provided over 110,000 experiences and business engagement opportunities for students and educators last year. Prior to working at the Department, Kelli taught business and technology courses at Cedar Falls High School for 20 years. Kelli plans to do consulting work with a national organization on work-based learning in her retirement.  

Incoming staff

Kristy Volesky will join the Division on June 17 as a career and technical education consultant. She comes to us from Johnston High School where she is a high school business and school-to-work teacher. She has a master's degree in organizational leadership from St. Ambrose University. Prior to teaching in Johnston, she was a business teacher at PCM High School and Durant High School and a computer teacher at the American International School in Cairo, Egypt. Within the Division, Kristy's primary duties will include supporting school districts and community colleges with programming within the business, finance, marketing, and management service area and Perkins grant management activities. With her deep knowledge and experience managing work experience programs in several school districts, she will also support the Iowa Intermediary Network and work-based learning coordinators. 

Elizabeth Campbell will join the Division on June 24 as an adult education and literacy consultant. Elizabeth comes to us from Des Moines Area Community Colleges where she was serving as an academic advisor while completing her Master of Education in Higher Education Administration degree from Penn State University. She has six years of experience with Southeastern Community College's adult education and ESL program including serving as director for two years. Prior to joining DMACC, she had served as a refugee education supervisor with Lutheran Services of Iowa. Within the Division, Elizabeth's primary duties will include supporting adult education program instructional design and development. She has a passion for adult education and empowering instructors to meet the needs of Iowans.

Career opportunities within the Division

join our team

We are seeking talented individuals who are passionate about excellence in education to fill several positions over the next few months within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (Division).

We don't just talk about inclusion, it's how we do business.  Our team is globally diverse and we seek candidates whose differences will challenge our ideas, spur innovation, and ultimately help build stronger programs serving the people of Iowa.

The Division is seeking candidates for a CTE Consultant with a focus on either information solutions or agriculture.  We are currently interviewing for a CTE Consultant for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.  This summer, the Division expects to advertise for Bureau Chief (CTE) and two consultant positions within the Bureau of Community Colleges. 

To learn more about these opportunities, please contact Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at jeremy.varner@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-8260.