August 2020 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

August 2020

Flexibility is key for upcoming school year

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

Our schools are cornerstones in our communities where relationships are developed, passions are nurtured, and strong ties are built. They also play a critical role in supporting the whole child, not just their academic achievement. And while it is important to safely open schools this fall, navigating the school year during a pandemic means being flexible and quickly adapting to changing conditions.

Being flexible involves more than having contingency plans. It also means knowing when to change a course of action using data-driven measures to make informed decisions on how schools may best serve their communities. Supporting you throughout this process continues to be our priority as we strive to find our way forward through these challenging times.


2020-21 Early Literacy Implementation Grant

little girl reading

The application for the 2020-2021 Early Literacy Implementation (ELI) Grant is now open for submission. This year’s due date is Sept. 15. To apply, login to Iowa Grants and select Funding Opportunities. The application is a short, drop down menu indicating how the 2019-20 ELI grant funds were spent and how the 2020-21 grant funds will be spent. The grant application is linked to last year’s application for ease of submission. Each of Iowa’s public school districts receives half of the legislative funding outright and half of the funding based upon student count from October 2019. Questions? Contact Jen Adams at Funding amounts will be posted in the ELI Grant Application and on the Early Literacy Implementation webpage when available.

Top of page

CASA deadlines established

calendar and clock

As the new school year approaches, deadlines have been established for the Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA) requirements.

Due Sept. 15

Due Oct.15

Due Dec. 15

Universal Desk Audits – Required only of agencies with outstanding corrections that carried over from 2019-20. These are designated with an Action Required status.

For more information, contact Meredith MacQuigg at or 515-494-5610.

Top of page

Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) reminders

push pins in calendar

Does your district have new staff people working with student reporting this fall? If yes, please log into Spring SRI (2019) and update the district contact information so the correct people receive emails regarding SRI updates, deadlines, documentation, etc. Hint: If you want more than one person listed as a contact, just use a semicolon to separate the email addresses.

Upcoming certification deadlines related to Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) 2019-2020:

  • Aug. 25: Graduate Verification. A webinar will be presented on Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. for anyone new to (or wanting a refresher on) this application.
  • Aug. 25: Non-Fall Supplementary Weighting. Guidance on this application can be found in a recorded webinar on the SRI website.

Top of page

Renewal of Teaching Strategies GOLD®

time to renew

Iowa Code 279.60 requires the use of the GOLD® online system to assess every resident prekindergarten student or 4-year-old student enrolled in a district-sponsored program. Based on these requirements, districts and community partners should renew their existing agreements.

The existing GOLD® online contracts for programs utilizing the Iowa Department of Education’s Umbrella Agreement require annual renewal. Administrators should have received communication from Teaching Strategies regarding renewal. If a subscribing program has not received communication about renewal, contact Teaching Strategies directly (contact details below). Existing subscribers may also complete the online renewal form.

For information about GOLD® renewal, contact Mary Breyfogle at or Teaching Strategies at or 1-866-736-5913.

Top of page

New professional development series focuses on CTE training


The Iowa Department of Education is bringing together Career and Technical Education teachers and administrators (middle school, high school and postsecondary) for a new ongoing training series highlighting Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) - The CTSO Advisor Academy.

The 2020-21 Virtual CTSO Advisor Academy will kick off Aug. 6, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. via Zoom. This event will feature an update on the CTSO portion of Iowa’s Perkins V state plan, the advisor’s role and CTSO success stories from across the nation.

The remainder of the CTSO training series is geared toward new and experienced CTSO advisors. This series will feature topics that advisors often ask about such as creating a program of work, the 3 Rs – recruit, retain and recognize, student leadership development, competitive events, conferences, student travel, fundraising, service-learning and holding chapter meetings. The series will meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., September 2020 to May 2021. The training series will also have an option for recertification credit.

Register at Iowa Virtual CTSO Advisor Academy

For more information, contact Cale Hutchings at 515-281-0127 or

Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) Training Opportunities for Fall 2020


We encourage all staff that will be working with Cedar Connect and SRI to log into the following webinars to prepare for fall reporting. Note: these webinars will be recorded and posted to our website as soon as possible after the live session.

Fall SRI Updates – New elements, deleted elements, changed elements for the upcoming school year: Aug. 6, 1:30 p.m.

Cedar Connect – Taking snapshots, correcting validation errors, submitting data to SRI: Sept. 1, 1 p.m.

Top of page

Professional learning opportunity: MTSS for advanced learners

MTSS for Advanced Learners

The Department of Education and Heartland AEA just completed and published the new AEA PD Online Module for the Multi-Tiered System of Support for Advanced Learners.

The professional learning module is designed for classroom teachers, instructional coaches and teachers of gifted programs.

The Multi-Tiered System of Support for Advanced Learner document is designed to guide classroom instructional decisions that are based on implementing the Iowa Core standards while considering the academic complexity and pace of advanced student learning. For questions concerning AEA PD Online, contact Rob Brookhart at For questions concerning MTSS for Advanced Learner content, contact Rosanne Malek at or 515-281-3199.

Top of page

School nutrition training opportunities

food on a tray

There are a couple training opportunities for school nutrition professionals.

School Nutrition News to Know Summer Series: to assist school nutrition program operators in preparing for next school year a series of News to Know webinars have been held in collaboration with the School Nutrition Advisory Committee. View webinar recordings, presentation slides, professional standards documentation, and resources from the sessions. Information is included by topic in sub-folders.

  • Back to School 2020
  • HACCP Plans and Standard Operating Procedures
  • School Nutrition Staff
  • Procurement Guidance
  • Documentation Tips During Challenging Times

Virtual School Nutrition Training Week: 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. View schedule and register.

For more information, contact Carrie Scheidel at

Top of page

New English language resources now available

English Learners

Resources for all teachers of English learners are now available on the Iowa Core website.

If you are an EL teacher or a content teacher with ELs in your classroom, you will find what you need on the topics of instruction, assessment and professional learning. Check out the list of professional books, blogs, links to standards, ELPA21 resources and much more. Please let your colleagues know of this valuable resource.

Top of page

Gifted education resources are available


Gifted Education Resources are available on the Iowa Core website.

The resources include Instructional, Assessment, and Professional Learning opportunities for classroom teachers, instructional coaches, curriculum directors and gifted consultants. The Gifted Resources can be found on the Educator Resource page by Learner Characteristics.

If you need assistance, contact Rosanne Malek at or 515-281-3199.

Top of page

State offers high-quality online opportunity for all districts in Iowa


The Iowa Department of Education will provide all Iowa public school districts, nonpublic schools and homeschool students with access to a platform that will enable teachers and students the capability of participating in high-quality digital teaching and learning environments.

For schools that want to participate, there will be no cost for the upcoming school year. The platform, provided by Canvas Learning Management System, is intended for classrooms kindergarten through 12th grade.

Read more

Top of page

Summer Food Service Program meets student nutritional needs

persons packing boxes for summer food program

School food service programs ramped up to ensure students and families had access to healthy meals during unanticipated school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • During unanticipated school closures during the month of April, 59.5 percent of the meals typically served at school (compared to February 2020 data) were served to Iowa children under the Summer Food Service Program.
  • More than 70 percent of the Summer Food Service Program sponsors are continuing to serve meals into the summer months.

“A very special thank you to the school nutrition directors, school administrators, school staff and volunteers who have worked to serve an unprecedented number of meals to help keep our children fed during this time when schools are closed,” said Kala Shipley, bureau chief of the Iowa Department of Education’s Nutrition and Health Services. "Ensuring access to healthy school meals is critical to planning for learning models next school year."

Read more

For more information, contact Stephanie Dross at

Top of page

New early intervention, special education guidance system

i3 website on desktop, tablet and phone screens

The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are announcing the launch of a new early intervention and special education guidance system, known as Iowa IDEA Information (i3). It was developed collaboratively with local districts and with input from parents and partner agencies from across Iowa.
The launch of i3 means the phasing out of the current Iowa IDEA Info site, including AEA Special Education Procedures. The i3 system will bring with it enhancements that will prove to be invaluable to users, such as:Click to edit this placeholder text.

  • A one-stop shop for IFSP and IEP procedures and resources
  • User-friendly formatting for easy site navigation
  • Increased options for searching content and resources
  • Ability to allow for real-time updates with built-in options to clearly communicate updates to users
  • Translation options

Read more

Top of page

news headlines

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