September Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 9, Issue 3                                                                      September 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

Annual report of developmental education in Iowa community colleges released

Developmental Education

The Iowa Department of Education (Department) recently released its 2019 annual report on developmental education for Iowa community colleges. The report includes enrollment data from academic year (AY)17-18, but also tracks cohorts of students since 2013.

The report also includes trend data on factors such as headcount enrollment, credit hours taken, student demographics, and student outcomes in transfer, graduation, and course success. The number of credit hours in developmental education taken at the colleges has decreased from a total of 121,824 credits in AY11-12 to 56,127 credits in AY17-18. This decrease is attributed to several strategies colleges have implemented in developmental education course scheduling and course delivery methods.

Some additional highlights from the 2019 annual report include:

  • Developmental education courses accounted for 3.2 percent of total community college credit hours during AY17-18.
  • The most popular developmental education course taken during AY17-18 in mathematics was elementary algebra. For writing courses, the most popular course was college prep writing II.
  • Students who take one or more developmental education courses are more likely to be female, low-income, racial or ethnic minorities, self-identify as English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, be enrolled full time, and are younger, on average, than students who do not take developmental education courses.
  • The success rate (graduation and/or transfer) for students from the 2014-15 cohort who took one or more developmental education courses was 32.8 percent, compared to 54.9 percent for students who did not take developmental education courses.

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

State Board of Education notices rule changes


The State Board of Education noticed rule changes to five sections of Iowa Administrative Code (Chapter 12Chapter 22, Chapter 46, Chapter 96, Chapter 97, and Chapter 98) primarily related to nonpublic school concurrent enrollment and the career academy incentive fund. 

The majority of the noticed rules implement provisions of Senate File 603, which expanded the definition of concurrent enrollment to include courses delivered through a contract between an accredited nonpublic school and a community college. Direct contracting for concurrent enrollment between nonpublic schools and community colleges are subject to the same requirements for courses, instructors, institutions, and students as those between school districts and community colleges. The Iowa Legislature appropriated $1 million to offset a portion of the cost associated with nonpublic schools delivering concurrent enrollment coursework. These funds will flow through the Iowa Department of Education directly to a community college.

The chapter 46 noticed rules establish priorities and evaluation criteria for the career academy incentive fund. Established through House File 546, the fund is a carve-out of the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund geared toward career and technical education equipment and infrastructure. Eligible applicants include partnering school districts and community colleges, with priority consideration given to applications for new career academy programs delivered through regional centers. The first year set-aside is $1 million, which is authorized to grow to $5 million per year.

Please contact Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at, or at 515-281-8260, with any questions.

Statewide Career and Technical Education Advisory Council set to convene


A new advisory group is scheduled to convene in Des Moines on October 23 to provide input on the development of Iowa’s State Plan required under the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

Commonly referred to as Perkins V, the federal legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and provides almost $1.2 billion in federal support for career and technical education (CTE) programs in all 50 states and U.S. territories, including support for integrated career pathway programs. Iowa receives nearly $12 million annually, equally divided between secondary and postsecondary CTE programs delivered through public school districts and community colleges.

More than 60 individuals were invited to participate on the advisory council, including those from secondary and postsecondary education, students, and business and industry representing each of the six CTE service areas: agriculture, food, and natural resources; applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing; business, finance, marketing, and management; health science; human services; and information solutions.

Once finalized, the membership list will be posted on the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council web page. For more information, please contact Eric St Clair, Lead Education Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at, or at 515-326-0274.

Tuition and fees report now available

Tuition and Fees

The Department recently released the fiscal year 2020 Tuition and Fees Report, which provides information about the tuition and fees charged at each of Iowa's 15 community colleges. This report also provides trends in tuition and fees among Iowa’s community colleges, sources of general operating revenue, and comparisons among states and institutions.

According to the report, average in-state tuition for students attending Iowa’s community colleges is $173.65 per credit hour, a 3.1 percent increase from last year. Average mandatory fees are $14.92 per credit hour, up 5.4 percent from last year. Combined, the average total in-state cost of enrollment (tuition plus fees) is $188.57 per credit hour, which represents a 3.3 percent increase from last year.

Please contact Dan Li, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at, or at 515-281-3503, with comments or questions.

Work progresses on guided pathway development and implementation

Guided pathways

The Iowa Department of Education (Department) was awarded a $1.3 million grant from Ascendium Education Group in June to support guided pathways development and implementation at Iowa’s community colleges. Recently, HCM Strategists (HCM) was selected through a competitive process to provide technical assistance to the Department and community colleges in support of this work throughout the duration of the grant.

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.

The community colleges have continued efforts to build pathways at each institution, put structures in place to help students start and stay on a guided pathway, and help ensure that all students are engaged and learning within those pathways. In the coming months, HCM will convene meetings and host monthly webinars to assess progress on these steps and support the work to infuse work-based learning into college pathways, with an emphasis on equity and inclusiveness.

The first webinar for the five guided pathway emerging colleges (Des Moines Area Community College, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Iowa Central Community College, Iowa Valley Community College District, and Western Iowa Tech Community College) is scheduled for October 16. The first webinar for the 10 guided pathways implementing colleges (Hawkeye Community College, Indian Hills Community College, Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Kirkwood Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, Northeast Iowa Community College, Northwest Iowa Community College, Southeastern Community College, and Southwest Iowa Community College) is scheduled for October 21. All 15 colleges will attend a face-to-face guided pathways convening event on November 8 at the Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny campus. HCM is also in the process of scheduling fall site visits to each of the 10 implementing community colleges.

The Department has also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a grant outcomes evaluator. The RFP is expected to be awarded in December.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at, or 515-725-2247, for more information.

Gov. Reynolds announces new work-based learning opportunities for students, employers


Last month, Governor Kim Reynolds was joined by business and education leaders to announce opportunities available through the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning, a virtual space that connects students in grades K-12 and employers through shared projects that enable students to learn through real-world professional experiences.

The Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning has two key features:

  • A project board where employers post real-world tasks that students complete under the supervision of their teachers.
  • A business partner directory for teachers to find other kinds of work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, in which employers have expressed interest.

More than 130 work-based learning projects are now available to students and schools for the 2019-2020 school year and more are in the process of being added. The new resource is gaining speed, with new connections between schools and employers happening every week.

Visit the Iowa Work-Based Learning Clearinghouse website to learn more and to explore the project board. For more information on how to participate, please contact Jake Welchans, Work-Based Learning Clearinghouse Project Manager, at, or at 515-281-5494.

New partnership expands online adult education, professional development opportunities


A new partnership between the Department of Education (Department) and the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) is expanding online learning opportunities for adult education students across the state.

Through the partnership, the Department will have access to ICCOC’s online learning management system, Canvas, to design and deliver online adult education courses and professional development opportunities for volunteers and instructors at Iowa’s state and federally funded adult education providers. In addition, adult education providers will also have access to the Canvas platform.

Courses delivered through Canvas will offer adult learners a variety of online, hybrid, and flipped classroom models that enhance skills acquisition. These learning opportunities will better prepare adult learners with digital literacy and academic skills to succeed in completing their personal, educational, and career goals.

“I have found it [Canvas] to be a vital instructional tool,” said Tara Plouff, English Language Learner (ELL) Lead/Coordinator at Hawkeye Community College. “It helps bridge the gap between adult education and postsecondary education as all postsecondary educational programs now use some form of learning management system (LMS).”

The Department’s Adult Education and Literacy team and ICCOC are currently working cooperatively to organize and set up Canvas accounts in preparation for the development of online courses.

For more information, please contact Alex Harris, State Director for Adult Education, Bureau of Community Colleges, at, or at 515-281-3640.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 22-28

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

More than 36 million American adults currently struggle to read, write, do math, and use technology above a third-grade level. These struggles often reach younger generations, since children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves.

To bring awareness to this dilemma, and to highlight state and local efforts that help adults achieve the skills and training needed to succeed in college and careers, Congress has recognized the week of Sept. 22-28 as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.

Click to read more

Employers provide insight on careers in transportation, distribution, and logistics


Employers from the transportation, distribution, and logistics industry are providing valuable input in the development of statewide career awareness materials, which will include descriptions of various positions, but more importantly, career pathways that show how to enter and advance through a wide range of careers in the field. 

Focus groups were held this week in Sioux City, Des Moines, and Fort Dodge. There is still time to register for the focus groups being held on October 3 in Cedar Rapids and on October 4 in the Quad Cities.

This project was developed in support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, through a partnership between the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Motor Truck Association, APICS-Central Iowa, and Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association. A final product is set for release in December. 

Similar projects have already been completed for other industries, including Advanced ManufacturingHealth Science, and most recently, the Building Trades.  

Please contact Joe Collins, Sector Partnership and Career Pathways Consultant, at, or at 515-725-0646, for more information on these projects.

State Board of Education adopts new secondary CTE standards


On September 12, members of the State Board of Education adopted new career and technical education (CTE) standards for secondary CTE programs that enroll middle and high school students.

The standards were established as part of HF 2392, state legislation signed into law in 2016, which is helping shape the future of CTE in Iowa. The new CTE standards and benchmarks will set clear and consistent foundational expectations for what students need to learn in high-quality CTE programs across the state. They will also serve as a guide for Iowa educators as they develop curriculum, courses, and classroom activities locally. 

Community colleges can review the secondary CTE standards to determine how they prepare students for their programs and how they align with community college standards and courses. This may allow for more opportunities to build pathways from high school to community colleges by providing foundational knowledge for students that community colleges can build upon. 

Click to read more

Iowa's Gap program featured in national publication on defining quality non-degree credentials

National Skills

Iowa was one of six states featured in a publication by the National Skills Coalition for undertaking significant policy efforts around defining or supporting quality standards for non-degree programs.

The publication, Expanding Opportunities: Defining Quality Non-Degree Credentials for States, was released this month and focuses on the need for states to have clear processes and criteria for determining which non-degree credentials provide value to workers, businesses, and other stakeholders.

Iowa's Gap Tuition Assistance program was featured for having clear processes for identifying noncredit, in-demand programs. Gap provides need-based tuition assistance to applicants who complete noncredit postsecondary credentials tied to in-demand occupations. To be eligible for Gap, each program must (1) be aligned with for-credit certificates, diplomas, or degrees; (2) offer training in in-demand occupations; and (3) result in either a state, national, or locally recognized credential; prepare students for professional exams or licensure; provide endorsement for existing credentials or licenses; represent the achievement of skills defined by industry; or offer similar credentials or training as a for-credit program.

Please contact Mike Williams, Education Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at, or at 515-725-2005, for more information about the Gap Tuition Assistance program.

College and career advisement workshop held in Des Moines


The Division of Community College and Workforce Preparation (Division) recently partnered with Advance CTE, a national organization representing state leaders of career and technical education (CTE), to host a unique training opportunity for middle and high school counselors and others in career advising roles.

More than 30 counselors and advisors from middle and high schools and community colleges attended the Empowering Students to Pursue their Career Goals workshop on Sept. 16 at the Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny campus. The workshop focused specifically on integrating career and technical education with career exploration and career development to ensure all students are ready for college and careers.

Participants left feeling more confident in their knowledge about the CTE options available for students at their schools and had specific strategies for helping students develop meaningful career and academic plans that align with their interests, and ultimately set them on a path toward careers they are passionate about.

Due to the positive responses and interest in the workshop, the Division plans to offer similar regionally based workshops in the future.

Please contact Katy Blatnick-Gagne, Education Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at, or at 515-281-8353, for more information on training resources and future workshops.

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 seeking candidates for the Career and Technical Education Bureau Chief (CTE) position and is in the process of interviewing candidates for a CTE consultant position in the skilled trades and advanced manufacturing. In the near future, the Division expects to advertise for a CTE administrative consultant position and a consultant position within the Bureau of Community Colleges focusing on Senior Year Plus and career academies.

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