July Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 9, Issue 1                                                                      July 2019


Inside this issue

Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Barbara Burrows
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


Pat Thieben
Acting Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Heather Doe
Communications Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges

Department, community colleges, awarded grant to support guided pathways implementation

guided pathways

The Iowa Department of Education has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from Ascendium Education Group to support guided pathways development and implementation at Iowa’s community colleges. Guided pathways are a model for institutional transformation that draws on research in behavioral economics, organizational behavior, and cognitive science in an effort to improve graduation rates and narrow gaps in completion among student groups. Rather than providing students with isolated programmatic interventions, guided pathways require community colleges to redesign their programs and support services in ways that create more educationally coherent pathways to credentials designed to prepare students to advance in the labor market and pursue further education in a field of interest.

Community colleges completed initial work on guided pathways with support from an earlier planning grant Ascendium that ended in May 2019. That work focused on how to track the success of unique and available pathways at each community college, what structures need to be in place to help students start and stay on a guided pathway, and how to ensure that all students are engaged and learning within those pathways. With the help of the new grant, community colleges will now receive additional assistance over the next two years to sustain and further this work and to infuse work-based learning into their guided pathways.

All of the colleges will be a part of a statewide learning network for sharing student success strategies, with a focus on equity and inclusiveness for all student demographics across this statewide project. Additionally, 10 community colleges will also receive a combined total of $600,000 of grant funding over the next two years to support the implementation of guided pathways at their institutions.

The Department has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consulting firm to serve as the lead contractor for the coordination of the statewide learning network and for technical assistance. The RFP is expected to be awarded in August 2019.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant at chris.russell@iowa.gov, or 515-725-2247, for more information.

Program enables high school students to earn college credit in high-demand fields over the summer


Efforts to better meet industry needs and prepare students for college and careers in high-demand fields received a boost with the Summer College Credit Program (SCCP). Authorized in 2018 as part of the Future Ready Iowa Act and supported by a $600,000 state appropriation, the SCCP expands student access to college-level coursework during the summer and promotes participation in high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs that align to regional in-demand occupations.

A total of 764 students across the state are participating in the program this summer. A combined total of 38 programs were approved this first year, with all of Iowa’s 15 community colleges participating. The coursework in each of the approved programs is part of an approved CTE program and aligns with in-demand occupations as identified by the State Workforce Board or the respective community college. Course offerings within the top two services areas (health sciences and applied science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing [ASTEM]) were primarily in certified nursing assistant and welding/manufacturing.

Resources, including a fact sheet, a recorded webinar, and presentation slides are available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

For more information, contact Eric St Clair, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education at eric.stclair@iowa.gov, or at 515-326-0274.

Work-based learning projects now available to schools, students, through online clearinghouse

More than 100 work-based learning projects are now available to students and schools for the 2019-2020 school year through a new virtual state clearinghouse.

The Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning connects K-12 students, schools, and employers through shared projects that enable students to learn through professional experiences. The goal is to expand access to work-based learning projects statewide so that students can connect what they’re learning in the classroom to careers.

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Proposed plan aims to expand federal student aid access for students lacking a high school diploma


The Iowa Department of Education sent a formal request to United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, on July 10, for approval to move forward with a state-defined Ability to Benefit (ATB) plan.

Access to student financial aid plays a critical role in a student’s ability to access, persist, and complete postsecondary education. This is especially true for students without a high school diploma or its equivalent. Under the ATB provision, students lacking a high school diploma or its equivalent can become eligible for federal student aid programs, such as the federal Pell grant, by demonstrating their ability to benefit from postsecondary education or training in a career pathway program.

Currently, Iowa students can meet federal ability to benefit requirements by either completing six credits (or the equivalent) applicable toward a degree or certificate without federal or state student financial aid assistance, or by passing an acceptable ABT academic assessment or entrance exam.

Iowa’s proposed state-defined plan would expand student access to federal student aid programs by adding a third option for students to demonstrate their ability to benefit. The plan, which was developed by a committee of Iowa community college administrators and practitioners, would expand federal student aid eligibility to students who work toward a high school equivalency diploma while concurrently enrolled in a postsecondary career pathway program.

If approved by Secretary DeVos, the plan will provide a great opportunity for thousands of Iowans to pursue the postsecondary education and training needed for careers in high-demand occupations.

Please contact Mike Williams, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at mike.williams@iowa.gov, or at 515-725-2005, with comments or questions.

Progress made on Iowa's transfer major initiative


Biology (AS) and Business (AA) are the third and fourth discipline frameworks that were recently approved in the Iowa community college transfer major initiative.  They add additional opportunities beyond the Psychology and Criminal Justice frameworks that were approved earlier in the year. Transfer majors aim to create clear, structured pathways for transfer students. They are designed to guide students to take program-specific coursework within their associate of arts (AA) or associate of science (AS) studies that will transfer seamlessly into related majors at four-year institutions with the goal of:

  • improving communication and transfer efficiency among institutions;
  • providing students with a defined pathway toward their academic goals;
  • supporting a more data-informed assessment/articulation process;
  • avoiding excessive credits and decreasing time to degree completion; and
  • making postsecondary education more affordable, thus reducing student debt.

All of the discipline frameworks were developed and vetted by Iowa community colleges and public four-year universities prior to the Transfer Major Steering Committee’s (TMSC) approval. The approved discipline frameworks have a minimum of 18 discipline-relevant course credits that community colleges can offer students who intend to transfer into related baccalaureate programs at a four-year institution. This approval allows community colleges to create local transfer majors aligned with these discipline frameworks that also fulfill the AA or AS degree requirements. Once reviewed by the Department, colleges will be able to market and transcript their transfer majors.

Other discipline frameworks for mathematics, chemistry, physics, sociology, early childhood teacher licensure, education, and agriculture, are under development and should be approved within the next few months. The TMSC will host at least two convenings during the 2019-2020 academic year where faculty and administrators will design additional discipline frameworks in the areas of humanities and the social sciences.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant at chris.russell@iowa.gov, or 515-725-2247, for more information.

DMACC instructor named Adult Education and Literacy Educator of the Year


Gayle Gosch, a math and high school equivalency instructor at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), has been named the 2019 Archie Willard Adult Education and Literacy Educator of the Year.

The annual award honors an adult education and literacy instructor for exemplary service through advocating, developing, implementing, and teaching adult education in Iowa. Gosch received the award and was recognized for her achievements during the 2019 HiSET Program/Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Summer Conference in Des Moines.


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Last Dollar Scholarship marketing underway at Iowa's community colleges

Last Dollar Scholarship

The new Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship program, signed by Governor Kim Reynolds on June 3, is now available to qualified students at Iowa community colleges for the 2019-2020 academic year. This program allows eligible Iowans who enroll in programs associated with high-demand jobs to apply for state funding to cover the remaining cost of tuition and fees after other federal and state grants and scholarships have been applied.

Press releases are being published, websites are active, and marketing efforts are underway in order to promote the program so students can benefit in the upcoming fall semester by meeting the August 1, 2019 deadline. 

Each community college has a customized list of approved high-demand training programs which are offered regionally and lead to a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or an associate degree. However, because this list is based on job demand, it could change from year to year.  Students whose programs are removed from the list will maintain eligibility for the Last-Dollar Scholarship until they complete their credentials or leave school, as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria.

The student qualifications and eligible programs by community college are available on the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website.

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

Registration now open for the Social Justice in Education Conference


Registration is now open for the Social Justice in Education Conference, which will be held August 8-9 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Attendees will hear about promising practices and strategies that support equitable access and multi-cultural instruction, rigorous and unbiased curriculum, and other accelerated interventions to help all students succeed. There is no registration fee for the event.

Training specifically for equity coordinators and administrators will be conducted by the Office for Civil Rights on August 8. Sessions covering a range of social justice topics, such as multi-generational trauma, achievement gaps, disability rights, and bias, among others, will be covered on August 9. Educators, counselors, administrators, and student services staff from K-12 schools, community colleges, and four-year public and private institutions, as well as business and industry, are encouraged to attend.

For more information, please contact Jeanette Thomas, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at jeanette.thomas@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-3636.

2019 Iowa Next Generation Sector Partnership Webinar Series

Next Generation

The Iowa Department of Education is hosting an Iowa-exclusive series of webinars about the successful Next Generation Partnership model of industry-driven, community-supported sector partnerships.

No matter what stage you're in - just curious, beginning to plan, already active, or looking to move to the next level - these 90-minute sessions will offer a guided discussion about the value of sector partnerships, lessons learned in other states, and best practice recommendations that can easily be replicated here in Iowa. Each session will also include dedicated time for direct questions and answers with national sector partnership experts, Emily Lesh and Lynn Vosler, and will be recorded for future download and review.

Registration is free and only has to be completed once to access to all five sessions that will be held throughout July and August. Visit www.NextGenSectorPartnerships.com to learn more about this successful model and refer to SectorPartnerships.EducateIowa.gov for additional sector partnership information, technical resources, and future plans for continued support of the development, growth, and success of collaborative sector partnerships in Iowa. 

Contact Joe Collins, Sector Partnership and Career Pathways Consultant, at joe.collins@iowa.gov, or at 515-725-0646, with comments or questions.

Submission of Perkins claims for the 2018-2019 academic year

Community colleges and school districts with outstanding Perkins claims for the 2018-2019 school year need to submit them as soon as possible The Department must review and approve all outstanding claims for the 2018-2019 school year by the end of July.

All claims submitted after July 31, 2019, are required to go through a state appeals process with no guarantee of the claim being paid.

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

Katy Blatnick-Gagne inducted into the Colorado Association for Career and Technical Education Hall of Fame


Katy Blatnick-Gagne, Ed. D, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Consultant, will be inducted into the Colorado Association for Career and Technical Education (CACTE) Hall of Fame at the 2019 CACTE CareerTech Summit in July. 

In being selected for this honor, Katy joins an elite group of individuals who are recognized as dedicated leaders in career and technical education in Colorado over a lifetime. Katy is a product of CTE, starting her career as a high school student and state officer for the FHA/HERO (now FCCLA) student organization.  After graduating from Colorado State University, she spent over eighteen years in Colorado working in the CTE field. Through her career she was an active family and consumer sciences educator as a teacher, adviser, and program director at the state level. 

Katy spent countless hours serving on several professional organization boards, including having served as the President of the CACTE organization three times. She was one of the first ACTE Leadership Fellows, was honored as the Colorado Family and Consumer Sciences, CACTE and ACTE Region V New Teacher of the Year in 2003, helped develop a mentorship program for CTE educators, presented many workshops, and enhanced teacher professional development opportunities throughout the state. Katy went on to earn her doctorate and moved to Lubbock, Texas where she was the Director of the FCS Curriculum Center at Texas Tech University.   Katy joined the Bureau of Career and Technical Education in Iowa this past February, and is looking forward to many years of dedicated service to career and technical education in the state. 

Nailing it: Construction camp inspires girls

construction camp

Twenty-three Des Moines metro middle and high school girls explored tools of the trade at a week-long summer camp aimed at exposing them to in-demand career opportunities in construction.

Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines Public Schools, Homebuilders of Iowa, and Turner Construction, the Construction Camp for Girls is helping to break down stereotypes, foster interest, and expose students to in-demand career opportunities where females have traditionally been underrepresented.

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Students credit CTE for launching their futures

presidential scholars

What’s your major? The oft-dreaded question is asked of almost every recent high school graduate and soon-to-be college student. There is no doubt that choosing a major is one of the most difficult things recent high school graduates face. Many students struggle with balancing a desire to study what interests them with finding a field that will lead to a good-paying career.

But thankfully, that’s not the case for Megan Niewoehner from Sumner-Fredericksburg, and Jaxon Mullinnix from Lone Tree. Both rural eastern Iowa students graduated at the top of their class. They took courses that earned them college credit while still in high school. And most important, both credit their involvement in career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) with helping them to grow as leaders, apply core learning in practical ways, and ultimately guide them into fields where they can turn their passion into future careers.

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Students learn leadership is far more than a title

CTE leadership

Student leaders from across the state recently gathered at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny for a full day of training aimed at developing their leadership and networking skills.

This wasn’t your typical “sit at the table and listen” type of training. Quite the contrary.

The newly elected student leaders and officers from each of Iowa’s nine career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) actively shared insights and engaged in activities, such as discussing favorite leadership quotes, learning about rules of leadership, and creating citizen communities.

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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 currently interviewing candidates to fill a CTE consultant position for skilled trades and advanced manufacturing as well as a CTE consultant position with a focus on either information solutions or agriculture. In the near future, 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.