November 2019 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

November 2019

Strengthening teacher leadership in Iowa

director ryan wise

Some things get better with age. One of those is teacher leadership. Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system was signed into law in June 2013. And between 2014 and 2016, schools began adopting their own local TLC plans. Since then Iowa has emerged as the unrivaled leader in supporting teacher leadership with $163 million in dedicated state funding and more than 10,000 teachers receiving additional compensation for taking on new roles.

In October the Iowa Department of Education released a new report showing the number of school districts mostly or fully meeting local student achievement goals increased for the third straight year. In addition, schools continue to see strong results in improving teacher recruitment and retention, promoting collaboration, and increasing opportunities for professional growth.

Most encouraging is the spirit of continuous learning and improvement reflected in local school districts’ approach to strengthening their teacher leadership plans over time. As I’ve visited with teacher leadership teams in my travels across the state, I’ve noticed five actions that drive this improvement.

Legal Lessons

attorney nicole proesch

Fall is in full swing. Fall conferences are done and in just a few short weeks, it will be thanksgiving. Now, in preparation for a fabulous fall in this edition of Legal Lessons I bring you:  Compulsory Attendance Reminders, New Rules Notice and Adopted, U.S. Department of Education Update on Equitable Services and a Multi-Agency School Safety District Guide

Contact Nicole Proesch for all Legal Lessons items - or (515) 281-8661.

For questions regarding students with disabilities  contact Thomas Mayes at (515) 242-5614 or

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Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning newsletter

Graphic, mentor and student working at desk, Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning

Check out the latest newsletter from the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning! There's lots of good information to get you started with a hands-on project for your classroom that will make learning more relevant to your students. 

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Register now for courses offered through Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy

Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy logo

Registration is now open for courses offered in November and December through the Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy. The Academy was developed by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and AEA Iowa, and has been endorsed by the Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA). These Iowa-specific online courses designed for administrators, school counselors and other college access professionals will begin on Nov. 11 and run through Dec. 29.

Each of the courses available through the Academy is specifically tailored for Iowa college access professionals to improve effectiveness in preparing all students for education and training beyond high school. Individuals can register as participants for no cost, or they can select an option to earn licensure renewal or graduate credit through Drake University, Grand View University or Morningside College.

The full 2019-20 course schedule offered through the Academy is available on the Iowa College Student Aid Commission's website.

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Iowa Learning Online (ILO) to end service

Iowa Learning Online logo

Iowa Learning Online (ILO), the Iowa Department of Education’s initiative to expand high-quality online learning opportunities, will be available through the 2019-20 school year. After that, districts will either need to create their own online classes or work with a third-party vendor. ILO will no longer directly provide courses after the 2019-20 school year because there is no long-term, sustainable funding source available for operating the program.

Enrollment for spring courses is now in progress. Also, ILO staff will be happy to work with your district regarding options for your transition to the use of Department of Education-approved private providers of online courses or your own district-developed online courses.

Thank you for allowing ILO to serve you and your students. For questions or concerns, contact ILO Director, Gwen Wallace Nagel at (515)419-3275 or

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The Iowa Model Educator Evaluation System

Professional Educator Standards graphic

During the 2018-19 school year, representatives from across all levels of education met face-to-face and virtually with one of its goals focused on updating Iowa’s educator evaluation documents, as many of them were crafted in early 2000 and were represented on multiple pages of the Department website. As a result, the Iowa Model Educator Evaluation System – User Guide was constructed. On Nov. 7 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and repeated on Nov. 12 at the same time, Matt Ludwig from the Department will share the User Guide and take questions from the field. Participants are welcome to join this webinar at this link. If you have any additional questions, contact Matt Ludwig at (515)-326-5333 or

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Is mathematics a filter or a pump?

Female high school student standing at large see thru board working on math problem.

We want the best opportunities for Iowa students, and mathematics should open doors for students.  According to the US News and World Report 100 Best Jobs in America in 2019, it does.

  • Slightly more than half of the top 50 jobs are health care related (27 out of 50)
  • Only one job in the top 50 does not require a college degree (landscaper and groundskeeper)
  • Four jobs are related to engineering

Beyond the top 50 we see:

  • The highest ranked non-M STEM job is biochemist at rank 74.
  • High school teacher clocks in at rank 76.

In November, the Statewide Mathematics Leadership Team is going think partner, Is Mathematics a Filter or a Pump? They will be having the pathways conversation.

Ted Coe, Director of Mathematics, at, and Doug Sovde, Director, K-12 Education, Policy, and Services, at The University of Texas at Austin Charles A. Dana Center will facilitate.

For questions, contact April Pforts at For additional information, visit the Q&A mathematics blog.

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Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program compulsory attendance

Teacher with preschool children

According to research accumulated by Attendance Works and the Child & Family Policy Center, regular attendance in preschool impacts kindergarten readiness, literacy skills, and future attendance patterns.

A four-year-old child enrolled in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) is of compulsory attendance age unless the child’s parent submits written notice to the district of the intent to remove the child from the program (Iowa Code 299.1A). This allows districts to remove children not regularly attending from the program’s enrollment roster. It is also intended to offer districts language to promote and communicate an expectation of consistent attendance in the preschool program.

Districts are encouraged to clearly communicate the SWVPP schedule and expectations for attendance at the time of registration and enrollment. Families should be informed of local attendance policies, including potential consequences for unexcused absences. Districts must record attendance and include this information in the district’s state reporting.

For information about the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children, contact Jennifer Adkins at (515) 954-5652 or or Mary Breyfogle at (515) 326-1030 or

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Shared Visions Preschool Program competitive grant applications available soon

Preschool group playing musical instruments

On Nov. 15, instructions for the FY21 Shared Visions Preschool Program grant application will be available on the Shared Visions Preschool Program web page in the Application section. To be considered for funding, applications must be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education through the online grant application system,  Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis contingent upon the annual state appropriation.    

Additional information regarding the application process and program requirements may also be found on the Shared Visions Preschool Program web page. Questions regarding the competitive grant process and application must be submitted in writing to Amy Stegeman at by Jan. 6.. All submitted questions will be addressed in a Frequently Asked Questions document available on the Shared Visions Preschool Program web page.

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Iowa Department of Education
400 E 14th Street
Grimes State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Ph: 515-281-5294