October 2020 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

 October 2020

Equity: It’s past time to ensure all students can succeed

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

Every student deserves an equal opportunity to be successful in the classroom regardless of their circumstances. Students of color, students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, students from different backgrounds and family structures, students living in poverty as well as students who don’t— they all need support and resources that meet their individual needs. Focusing and ensuring equity in education means examining our policies, practices and mindsets and embracing different perspectives.

The benefits of inclusive and equitable classrooms are many:  improved academic achievement, positive effects on social-emotional-behavioral health, feeling connected and having compassion toward others are well documented. That is why it is so important that we work to ensure that our schools are places where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging, inclusion and contribution.

Does your district need face masks? Get your order in

Face mask graphic

The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health, has been tasked with distributing cloth face masks provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for use by students, faculty and staff at public and private K-12 schools in Iowa. This distribution places emphasis on students from low-income backgrounds and schools providing in-person instruction.

This distribution is separate from a prior personal protective equipment school distribution done at the beginning of the school year to public institutions and ONLY includes cloth masks. If your district or nonpublic school system has an unmet need or gap in cloth masks, complete the following actions to request masks:

  • To request masks, contact your local County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). A list of all county EMAs, including contact information.
  • Requests for masks should be submitted for a whole district/private school system in one request. Compile/combine the mask needs of each individual school/facility within your district/system and make a single, combined request. If your school is not associated with a school district/system, you can put in a request on your own.

Top of page

Teacher endorsement waiver

Letter tiles spelling WAIVER

For 2020-21, if a district or accredited nonpublic school has made every reasonable, good-faith effort to employ a teacher licensed under Chapter 272 who holds an endorsement for a specified grade level or subject area and cannot do so, and the district or school also cannot provide the course through one of the permitted online means, the director of the Iowa Department of Education may waive the teacher endorsement requirements in Iowa Code 256.9(48) and 272.15(4). Waiver applications are available in CASA under Applications and Waivers. Click on "Temporary Waiver of Endorsement 2020-2021 application" to submit a request.   

For more information, contact your School Improvement Consultant

Top of page

Iowa e-Learning Central rolls out content for educators

Iowa ELearning Central logo

The initial Phase 1 course resources are now available on the Iowa e-Learning Central Google site. In Phase 1 of Iowa e-Learning Central, the focus is on providing 9-12 educators access to free and reduced-cost online content in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, social studies, computer science, financial literacy and world languages. Course offerings will be expanded throughout 2020-21, across grades K-8. For more information, see the Course Resources tab of the Iowa e-Learning Central Google site and the Iowa e-Learning Central fact sheet.  

Top of page

Six Iowa schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools

National Blue Ribbon Schools graphic

Six Iowa schools are being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020. The award honors schools for overall academic performance or for progress in closing achievement gaps among subgroups of students. The schools are:

  • Altoona Elementary School, Southeast Polk Community School District
  • James B. Rue Elementary School, Council Bluffs Community School District
  • Maquoketa Valley Middle School, Maquoketa Valley Community School District
  • Murray Elementary School, Murray Community School District
  • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Newton Community School District
  • St Francis Of Assisi School, West Des Moines, Diocese of Des Moines

Read more

Top of page

Put these equity webinars on your calendars!

Social Justice and Equity logo graphic

It’s time to get the next round of webinars on your calendar for the Iowa Department of Education’s Social Justice and Equity in Education series. Each webinar runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Please note participants must register for each of the webinars.

  • Oct. 8: "COVID-19 and Class Disparities" by General Counsel Thomas Mayes of the Iowa Department of Education.

Mayes will explore how COVID-19 has increased disparities based on class. COVID-19 has also increased poverty and widened wealth gaps. This webinar will focus on how school communities can identify those disparities and respond to them. Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

Registration link: https://IDOE.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jvASzyTtR7Ov9S29L3TQjw

  • Oct. 22: "Numbers Don’t Speak for Themselves: Interpreting and Critiquing Data from a Social Justice Lens" by Ann Gansemer-Topf, an associate professor of higher education and student affairs at Iowa State University.

Gansemer-Topf will address that despite data being critical tools for educators, the data doesn’t always tell the entire story. For instance, when we provide graduation rates or performance metrics, what are the assumptions we use to interpret this data and how might these assumptions overlook marginalized and minoritized students and schools? Through the use of examples, this session will provide participants with some simple tools and questions they can use when critiquing and understanding data from a social justice and equity lens.

 Registration link: https://IDOE.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VsY_vWEITsO_I4U8SAoItg  

  •  Oct. 29: Special edition webinar - Equity coordinators updates: "A policy and procedures refresher course designed for equity coordinators" by Iowa Department of Education Consultants Jeanette Thomas, Janet Boyd and Pam Spangler.

Participants will learn the requirements of the role and function of the equity coordinator in both secondary and postsecondary institutions, how the functions may be assigned to one or more individuals for programs and employment, who should not be the equity coordinator, and requirements for notification of the contact information of the coordinator. Participants will receive samples of checklists to document the activities of the coordinator.

Registration link: https://IDOE.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gM-DeMcqS5Wc3GxK2VoIVA

  •  Nov. 5 - (2 presentations will be combined)

Presentation 1:  "Inclusive Schools & Communities for Queer Youth" by Nate Monson, executive director for the Iowa Safe Schools.

This webinar will dive deeply into the challenges facing LGBTQ youth in 2020. According to The Trevor Project's recent data, 40% of all LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide this year. Educators and community members play a critical role in creating safe, supportive, and affirming schools for LGBTQ youth.

Presentation 2:  "Know Your Rights: Supporting Trans Students" by Jordan Mix, deputy director of education at Iowa Safe Schools.

In this webinar, participants will learn about what it means to be transgender, common obstacles facing transgender students, and state and federal rights protecting trans students in schools. Participants will leave the webinar with a new understanding of best-practices for teaching and supporting trans students, and strategies for how to advocate for their academic success.

Registration link: https://IDOE.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_MPBoC2taR32lxFMOZ-_nDw


Top of page

Count Day is Oct. 1, Certified Enrollment due Oct. 15

Calendar showing October 15

Below are some important reminders pertaining to Count Day and Certified Enrollment:

  • Only students being served on Oct. 1 are eligible for funding. Students expected to move into your district and students who "may come back any day" are not eligible to be part of your count.
  • Districts are encouraged to get data onto SRI and Certified Enrollment as soon as possible to allow for more review and cleanup on both applications before certifying.
  • Per Iowa Code (257.6), the certification deadline for Certified Enrollment (public and nonpublic) is Oct. 15.
  • Districts are encouraged to wait until the November Board meeting to share any counts from Certified Enrollment with their school board or the public.
  • Make sure contact information is up to date on the Fall SRI application. This is the Iowa Department of Education’s source for all emails, announcements and notifications.
  • If districts have a superintendent or business manager who is brand new to the Certified Enrollment process, contact Margaret Hanson at margaret.hanson@iowa.gov  or Rachel Kruse at rachel.kruse@iowa.gov.

Top of page

New, improved Teach Iowa launches Nov. 2

Teach Iowa logo with variegated background.

Teach Iowa is transitioning to a new platform beginning Nov. 2, and schools will need to transfer all job postings to the new system no later than Dec. 31.

The Iowa Department of Education will be using PowerSchool as its new vendor. The new site is being designed to be more user friendly.

School staff who post jobs on the old Teach Iowa website will need to train with PowerSchool to learn how to use the new platform. PowerSchool representatives are currently scheduling training sessions for human resource administrators and hiring managers. 

Note that nothing will transfer from the old system to the new one. After Dec. 31, the current Teach Iowa job board and applicant tracking system will no longer be available and information stored in that system will not be accessible to employers. All jobs will need to be closed or reposted in the new system.

In addition, all applicants will need to create an application in the new Teach Iowa system. 

All public schools are required and accredited nonpublic schools are allowed, by Iowa code, to post all education-related jobs on the Teach Iowa job board. 

Schools and Area Education Agencies may also use the free Teach Iowa applicant tracking system or may choose to purchase their own applicant tracking system.

For questions, contact Kris Kilibarda at 515-322-7620 or kris.kilibarda@iowa.gov.

Read more about the Teach Iowa transition.

Top of page

2020-21 Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund

Teacher working with high school student at computer.

Computer science is a new basic skill in an increasingly competitive, technology-driven economy. As a result, state and local leaders in recent years have raised expectations that students have more opportunities to learn computer science. Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies.

Senate File 274, signed into law in 2017, established the Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund (CSPDIF) with the intent to build the capacity of Iowa schools to provide high-quality computer science instruction.

The 2020-21 CSPDIF application will open in IowaGrants on Oct. 12.

For questions, contact Wren Hoffman at 515-981-3306 or wren.hoffman@iowa.gov.

Top of page

Transfer in Iowa web portal assists students with college transfers (even high school students)

Transfer in Iowa logo

Iowa’s Regent universities offer the Transfer in Iowa website to assist students navigate the college transfer process and plan for their academic future.

Each year, thousands of students, including high school students taking college-level courses, transfer from Iowa’s community colleges to state public universities. This is a big step, so the website was designed to provide information to answer the question - How will my credits transfer?  

Students will discover how their community college courses transfer to the Regents by following links on the website. They can also learn about individual program articulation agreements between various institutions.  

In addition to using this online resource, students should discuss their plans with both community college and university advisors. The website provides contact information for transfer advisors at each institution.

School districts should encourage the use of Transfer in Iowa by all students interested in attending college, as well as academic counselors.

Top of page

Iowa 21st Century Community Learning (TITLE IV B) Grants Application for Cohort 16

21st Century Learning Centers logo

A five-year federal grant, which helps with afterschool and summer school programs for at-risk children, is open to schools and community groups. A total of $5,581,239.69 will be awarded in this grant competition.

Application materials have been updated. A minimum of 40 percent Free and Reduced Lunch is required to apply. Virtual technical assistance meetings will be held on Oct. 7, Oct. 14, and Nov. 4, to assist applicants with questions about applying for this federal program. Meeting dates, times and login information will be posted on the 21st Century page of the Iowa Department of Education website. This is a competitive application that is due Dec. 11, and then scored in a peer review. Successful applications will start July 1, 2021.

View information about the last competition (Cohort 15), where seven awards were made to fund 15 sites serving 1,290 children with an average of 66 percent Free and Reduced Lunch.

A summary of the program is available on the Iowa Department of Education website.

For questions, contact Vic Jaras at 515-242-6354 or vic.jaras@iowa.gov

Top of page

United States Senate Youth Program

United States Senate Youth logo

Students are urged to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program, which is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.

This year’s program will take place entirely online during the week of March 15. Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity will gather for an intensive study of government and those who lead it. In addition, each selected delegate receives a $10,000 scholarship.

The overall mission of the program, which was established in 1962, is to help instill knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

There are numerous deadlines in applying for the program, the first of which is Dec. 14. Additional program information, including the student application, can be found on the U.S. Senate Youth Program page.

For questions, contact Stefanie Wager at 515-725-7842 or stefanie.wager@iowa.gov.

Top of page

Nominate a Presidential Scholar by Oct. 30

Nominate a Presidential Scholar graphic with flag logo

The Iowa Department of Education is seeking nominations for outstanding high school seniors for the 2020-21 U.S. Presidential Scholars selection cycle. We encourage you to nominate students who, while demonstrating outstanding scholarship, might not otherwise be nominated through the current SAT/ACT, arts or Career and Technical Education (CTE) recognition processes.

If you have an outstanding high school senior deserving of consideration, submit a nomination through the Department’s online Presidential Scholar Nomination Form by Oct. 30.

Specific information to be included in each nomination is described on the Department’s online General Component Presidential Scholar Nomination form, or the CTE Component Presidential Scholar Nomination form. Nominations must be submitted no later than Oct. 30.

For questions regarding the nomination process, contact Deborah Darge at deborah.darge@iowa.gov or 515-242-6176. Read more about the Presidential Scholars Program.

Read more

Virtual office hours to support administrators overseeing preschool programs

Virtual meeting

The Iowa Department of Education recognizes preschool programs are different than K-12 programs. Preschool programs follow an approved set of program standards, use the Iowa Early Learning Standards, assess children with authentic observations in Teaching Strategies GOLD, and provide a child and family’s first experience with formal education. These unique features require a specialized understanding of early childhood programming, which may be new learning for some. 

Mary Breyfogle, an education program consultant at the Iowa Department of Education and former principal working with preschool programming, will hold virtual office hours through this zoom link from 3-5 p.m. every second Thursday of the month starting Oct. 12. No specific agenda will be presented, just a time set aside to answer questions and deepen understanding of the aspects that make preschool unique.

Top of page

Preschool and K-12 Desk Audits

Audit graphic

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the procedures for the 2019-20 Preschool and K-12 Desk Audit were adjusted. The Iowa Department of Education closed out the 2019-20 Preschool and K-12 Desk Audits as is and ported forward the current answers into the 2020-21 Desk Audit. The 2020-21 Preschool and K-12 Desk Audit will open on Sept. 15 and close on Dec. 15. No new items will be added to the 2020-21 desk audit. For questions, contact your Department of Education School Improvement Consultant

Top of page

State contract for myIGDIs universal screening early literacy assessment for preschool

Preschool girl looking at books in library.

The Iowa Department of Education is bringing myIGDIs to preschool in Iowa at no cost. As an optional screening tool, myIGDIs for preschool literacy complements the required GOLD assessment. Screening with myIGDIs is part of a healthy Multi-Tiered System of Supports system supporting a robust universal tier of instruction.

Districts that have previously used myIGDIs through the Area Education Agency contract may screen in the fall window (through Nov. 14). New users interested in myIGDIs will have opportunities to attend an informational webinar and discuss assessment for the winter window or sooner. Requirements to assess with myIGDIs include participation in a preschool program that includes identifiers such as district ID, building ID, and student ID. myIGDIs is typically administered via two Bluetooth-enabled iPads in person. 

Complete this interest survey to get started.

For more information, contact Jennifer Adkins at 515-954-5652 or jennifer.adkins@iowa.gov.

Top of page

Students join state board equity committee

Equity committee logo, multi-colored people sitting around circular table.

Seven students from across the state have been named to join the State Board of Education’s equity committee. They are:

  • Andy Montalvo-Martínez, 12th grade, Des Moines Public Schools
  • Klaudia Hernandez, 12th grade, Marshalltown Community School District
  • Makenzie Dahlstrom, 11th grade, Pekin School District
  • Mariam Bastawros, 12th grade, Gilbert Community School
  • Rahma Elsheikh, 12th grade, Cedar Rapids Community School District
  • Ronesha McClellan, 11th grade, Dubuque Community School District
  • Rylee Boulden, 11th grade, Waterloo Community School District

“The state board’s equity committee wants to ensure that every voice is heard,” said state board member Kimberly Wayne. “What better way than to bring students into the fold?”

The students will join seven adults on the committee, whose mission is to ensure equity in education.

Read more

Top of page

Kryton and CAPS come together to create a divided solution for schools

Children eating lunch in school cafeteria with clear dividers separating them.

The COVID19 pandemic has made schools innovate new ways for students to be safe when they returned to school this fall.  Earlier this summer Cedar Falls School District STEM Coordinator Kenton Swartley committed to having the school’s robotics team that he leads, design and manufacture 46 polycarbonate divider panels for elementary school classrooms. In late August an additional 200 pieces were ordered to be delivered by the end of August.

The substantial increase created a challenge for the group to meet that deadline and needed help to meet that demand. The original design for the base supports for the dividers was being fabricated using 3-D printers with plastic filament would take nine days to complete.  When the volume quadrupled the project then was handed to the CF CAPS Robotics & Engineering (R&E) team to meet the four-day deadline.

CF CAPS R&E, a profession-based learning program that focuses on the development of skills and interest in STEM careers, discovered that it would take approximately 2-3 weeks to meet the August 31 deadline using the additive manufacturing method. The team knew that timeframe did not fit what the school district was needing.  CAPS Associates Savoy Hiesterman and Brody Bruns approached Kevin Harberts, President/ CEO of Kryton Engineered Metals, on how his company could partner with CAPS on the project to support the local elementary schools. Kryton Engineered Metals is the host site for CAPS R&E at their facility in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park.

Read more

Top of page

Work-Based Learning Perkins V performance indicator component in Iowa

People sitting in a circle listening to presenter during a work place meeting.

Information is now available on both the Perkins V and Work-Based Learning websites for school districts covering the Perkins V work-based learning performance indicator. Short, on-demand video recordings along with written materials are available to break down the components on coding, reporting, and resources to guide and support school districts.

Educators and administrators interested in learning more to start a work-based learning program will have the opportunity to attend a free webinar hosted by University of Northern Iowa (UNI) on Wednesday, Nov. 4, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Register and attend to review or learn important components of a work-based learning program. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions from UNI instructor and work-based learning expert, Mindi Heitland.

Top of page

Connect with the ICN at our Virtual Cybersecurity Roadshow

ICN Cybersecurity Virtual Roadshow 2020 graphic

Iowa Communications Network’s (ICN) cybersecurity team is back with a Virtual Cybersecurity Roadshow on Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 1-3 p.m. Now is the time to make cybersecurity a priority, and we hope you can attend. This is a free virtual event geared towards ICN's authorized users.

For more information visit our website.

Top of page

Students selected for Statewide Broadband Council

SYBAC logo

Ten Iowa high school students have been selected to serve on Iowa Communications Network (ICN) Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council (SYBAC). The council is a unique opportunity for motivated high school students to research and discuss broadband and Internet topics, learn about Iowa technology companies, and discover technology careers.

The following students were selected to ICN’s SYBAC for the 2020-21 school year:

  • Rida Azam, Gilbert High School
  • Sam Doud, Earlham High School
  • Connor Fogarty, Valley High School, West Des Moines
  • Hannah Groos, Norwalk High School
  • Hailey Grotluschen, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (HMS) High School
  • JoAnn Hacker, Abraham Lincoln High School, Council Bluffs
  • Chase McAndrews, Clarinda High School
  • Lucas Pierce, Nashua-Plainfield High School
  • Henry Shires, Valley High School, West Des Moines
  • Justin Wells, Fremont-Mills High School

To keep updated on the student initiatives visit the Iowa Communications Network SYBAC webpage

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