July 2020 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

July 2020

Change, progress and the future of learning

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

With the start of the new school year on the horizon, it is hard to believe how far we have come since March 15, when we first sent students home, and we couldn’t fathom how we would prepare for and adjust to a new model of teaching and learning. Yet, with determination and open minds, we banded together and forged ahead into uncharted territory, never losing sight of the students we serve.

Today marks a significant milestone in that progress. All 327 public school districts and 119 state-accredited nonpublic schools are submitting their Return-to-Learn plans. It was no easy task, proving that progress takes place outside of our comfort zones. I am inspired by the dedication of school administrators, educators and staff who dared to discover how classrooms can coexist as physical spaces and virtually, shifting our landscapes for learning.

New TeachIowa vendor requires your input

Woman seated, filling out online survey on a laptop.

TeachIowa has a new vendor that is overhauling the system, making it more user-friendly for both education systems and job seekers.

To that end, the new vendor, PowerSchool Unified Talent, needs input from education institutions (AEAs, school districts and non-public schools) to ensure a smooth transition. Institutions need to complete only one TeachIowa User Survey by Aug. 1. 

As in the past, there is no cost to our education stakeholders for the TeachIowa job board and applicant tracking system. That’s because the Iowa Legislature appropriated funding to provide the TeachIowa job board and applicant tracking system.

The new system is expected to go live sometime this fall. In the meantime, TeachIowa will continue to be operated by the old vendor.

For more information about the new TeachIowa system, contact Kris Kilibarda at the Iowa Department of Education at kris.kilibarda@iowa.gov.

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Check out virtual nutrition training week

Woman sitting at desk in front of a computer with screen showing others participating in a Zoom meeting.

The Bureau of School Nutrition and Health Services has transitioned their summer in person training opportunities for school nutrition professionals to an online format the first week of August. USDA School Nutrition Professional Standards training hours will be provided. Encourage your school nutrition director and staff to participate.

  • Monday, Aug. 3,  2-3:30 p.m. - New Directors Networking Event
    • An overview of the management components of school nutrition programs and allow time for networking with school nutrition directors across the state. 
    • Registration Link

  • Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2-3:30 p.m. - Meal Pattern Essentials
    • Increase meal pattern knowledge and provide practical tips for planning and delivering menus that meet school nutrition meal pattern requirements and students’ expectations.
    • Registration Link

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2-4 p.m. - Manager Update
    • Updates on USDA regulations, current issues in school nutrition and back to school resources. 
    • Registration Link  
  • Thursday, Aug. 6, 2-3:30 p.m. - USDA Foods 
    • Update regarding changes with USDA foods. Provide an opportunity for Directors to learn about USDA foods and meet Sarah White virtually
    • Registration Link
  • Friday, Aug. 7, 2-3:30 p.m. - Food Safety
    • Review foundation knowledge about HACCP and the USDA Guidelines for the Process Approach to HACCP.
    • Registration Link  

For questions, contact Jean Easley at (515) 360-5149 or jean.easley@iowa.gov.     

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Grants awarded for Shared Visions Parent Support Programs

African-American father with preschool child, reading a book.

A new cycle of the competitive grant process for Shared Visions Parent Support Programs was recently conducted to award grants for programming in FY21 through FY25. Submitted applications were scored by a team of trained reviewers with expertise in early childhood and knowledge of family support programs. A set of criteria for determining awards were applied and the Child Development Coordinating Council made final approval of awards. Out of the 19 applications received, five will be awarded grants, contingent upon state legislative funding.

Grantees will provide quality educational support services to families with children meeting identified risk factors and who now are ages birth to five years old with priority to families with children ages birth to three years old.

For more information, including a list of awarded grantees, visit the Shared Visions Parent Support Program webpage.

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MyTeachingStrategies™ GOLD Assessment System checkpoints for 2020-21

Asian preschooler working with blocks.

The three checkpoint dates for the 2020-21 school year will be November 16, 2020, February 22, 2021, and May 24, 2021. Utilizing the three checkpoint periods ensures fidelity in administration of the assessment in a valid and reliable manner. Additionally, data from the three checkpoints is best used both in formative and summative means as teachers and administrators are determining appropriate instructional decisions for students. Districts are encouraged to complete the fall and spring checkpoints to represent the beginning and end of the preschool program year as represented in Iowa Code § 279.60.

Note, completing fewer than three checkpoints will affect the availability of various reports in the MyTeachingStrategies™ system. Guidance and procedures regarding GOLD® may be found on the Teaching Strategies in Iowa web page and the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program web page under the subheading Assessment.  

For information about GOLD® checkpoints, contact Mary Breyfogle at (515) 326-1030 or mary.breyfogle@iowa.gov, or Teaching Strategies Tech Support for Iowa at (866) 246-5352.

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