January Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 10, Issue 6                                                                                                                        January 2021


Inside this issue


Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Dennis Harden
 Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Paula Nissen
Acting Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


Alison Jepsen
Executive Officer, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation

2020 Condition of Community Colleges Report now available

2020 Condition Report

The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (division) released its Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges 2020 report at the State Board of Education meeting on Jan. 28. The report provides a comprehensive overview, including academic year and trend data on enrollment, credit and noncredit programs, joint enrollment, adult education, online course delivery, student success, human resources, finances and more. 

Report highlights include:

  • 127,013: The number of students enrolled in community college credit courses, down 1.3 percent from 128,624 the year before.
  • 51,800: The number of students who enrolled in college courses while in high school (known as joint enrollment), up 2.4 percent from 50,587 the year before. Jointly enrolled high school students account for 40.8 percent of total community college enrollees and 25.6 percent of total credit hours.
  • 69,614: The number of students enrolled in online credit courses, which represents a record high. This is an 11 percent increase from 62,731 the previous year. Online noncredit enrollment increased 15.5 percent to 14,123 students, up from 12,234 students in the year prior.
  • 23.7%: The percent of community college enrollment from racial and ethnic minority groups, which represents a record high.
  • 37.9%: The percent of all Career and Technical Education awards granted that are in a Health Science program of study.
  • 16,413: The number of credit awards earned (associate degrees, certificates and diplomas), down 5.5 percent from 17,377 the previous year.
  • 35,540: The number of noncredit program awards earned by 32,138 noncredit students. The majority of these awards (76.8 percent) were industry-awarded credentials designed to lead to or enhance employment opportunities.

The full report, as well as disaggregated data tables and interactive data visualization tools, are available on the Department’s website.

Please contact Paula Nissen, Lead Education Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (paula.nissen2@iowa.gov or (515) 418-8273) or Vlad Bassis, Lead Education Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (vladimir.bassis@iowa.gov or (515) 281-3671) with comments or questions.

Iowa Distance Education Adult Literacy (IDEAL) initiative supports 100% adult education online learning

Online Adult Ed

A working group of Iowa community college leaders have collaborated to create the Iowa Distance Education Adult Literacy (IDEAL) initiative to support adult education students so they may gain the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to acquire a high school credential; receive postsecondary education and training and achieve living-wage employment, all via an accessible online platform. This initiative meets the rapidly growing demand for asynchronous, online learning opportunities for adult education and literacy students. The collaborative effort between this working group and a team of distance education experts, program administrators and instructors has resulted in the development of the following recommendations:

  • A single learning management system for all providers
    • A shared platform, Canvas, will be accessible statewide
  • A series of online courses aligned with AEL standards
    • Evidence- and project-based practices will be available in math, reading/writing, social studies, science and career essentials
  • Courses to expand instruction for in-demand workforce training and employment transition
    • Workplace courses where where adult learners gain career awareness and interview skills
  • Sequenced professional development for instructors
    • Targeted training will address specific needs of adult learners and cultivate engagement in distance education classrooms
  • Increased access to services and technology to ensure equity and inclusion for participants served
    • The Governor’s 2020 Emergency Education Relief fund will provide adult learners with access to devices such as computers, tablets and hotspots

The move to a unified online platform makes adult education programs more accessible than ever, and supports rapid progress and completion for adult learners so they may achieve college and career readiness performance levels and move on to high school equivalency exams, postsecondary education, employment and careers. Adult learners also benefit from flexible programming that helps them persist, real-time feedback on course completion and new opportunities to build digital literacy. 

The working group will continue through Winter 2022 to build this initiative by curating course content, optimizing the online platform, releasing GEER 3 funds to providers, developing online student registration and orientation, enhancing online courses with interactive courseware and building training for instructors.

For any questions about IDEAL and the working group, please contact Alex Harris, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (alex.harris@iowa.gov or (515 281-3640) or Elizabeth Johnson, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (elizabeth.johnson2@iowa.gov or (515) 281-3753).

2021 Iowa Adult Education Virtual Conference open for registration

Virtual Conference

The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Literacy Council are proud to announce the 2021 Iowa Adult Education Virtual Conference. The two day virtual conference will be an opportunity to learn about innovative practices in adult education. Sessions will include topics such as: Educating Adult Refugees and Immigrants, Explore Google for Education Free Applied Digital Skills, Developing Workflow and Process for IELCE Programs and Canvas tutorials. 

Join us February, 2- 3, 2021 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM 

Register Here.

Please contact Elizabeth Johnson, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (elizabeth.johnson2@iowa.gov or (515) 281-3753) with any questions.

ACTE National & Iowa's Annual Hybrid Work-based Learning Conference 2021 open for registration

WBL and ACTE Conference

The Association for Career and Technical Education's National and Iowa's Annual Hybrid Work-based Learning Conference 2021 will take place on-site and online April 29-30, 2021; a fully virtual conference option is available. The conference is an opportunity for participants to learn about best practices in work-based learning form across the county. 

Register here. 

The call for proposals closes February 5. Submit proposals here.

Please contact Kristy Volesky, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, (kristy.volesky@iowa.gov or at (515) 281-3615) with comments or questions.

Iowa Consortium for Correctional Higher Education works toward better outcomes for incarcerated students

Corrections Education

The new Iowa Consortium for Correctional Higher Education has been formed as a collaborative organization of institutions of higher education, the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC), Iowa Department of Education (Department) and the Iowa Board of Regents (BOR) that recognizes and supports the rehabilitative power of postsecondary instruction for returning citizens. Developed as part of the deliverables with the Ascendium grant's “Optimizing Delivery Systems for Higher Education in Prison,” the Consortium works to provide high quality programs and services to this student population in order to create the best circumstances for their successful reentry and restore their personal dignity and economic opportunities.

The Consortium shares information, increases articulation of students among participating colleges and universities, urges legislators to continue state and federal financial support, identifies and/or develops funding sources, cultivates constituency relations and develops common procedures for institutionalized students. It also serves as a liaison with the Iowa DOC director of correctional education and as a policy advisement board to coordinate higher education offerings. 

Governance is provided by a steering committee composed of one representative from each college or university offering programs in Iowa DOC institutions; one representative from the DOC; one representative of the BOR and one representative of the Department that will meet on a bimonthly basis. Support for the Consortium will continue through the grant for the next two years as election of officers and subcommittees are formed to address technology and professional development for educational services in correctional settings. 

For more information about the Iowa Consortium for Correctional Higher Education, please contact Alex Harris, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (alex.harris@iowa.gov or (515 281-3640).

Iowa Health Sciences Workforce Outcomes Report outlines in-demand health science careers


In July 2018, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) partnered with the Division, Iowa Hospital Association (IHA), Iowa Health Care Association (IHCA) and various health care service providers, educators and community partners to build the engaging and informative Opportunities in Health Sciences: Iowa Career Pathways materials to highlight the wide range of high-paying, in-demand careers in Iowa’s growing health science industry. 

The Iowa Health Science Work-Based Learning Toolkit was completed and released in August 2019 to serve as the culmination of the thorough process to identify work-based learning solutions addressing the growing need for a skilled workforce in health science, improved coordination across partnerships and regions and the need for employers and educators to understand the value of these investments. 

In December 2020, the Iowa Health Sciences Workforce Outcomes Report, using licensing data, was produced by the Division. Staff worked with IDPH, DIA and multiple health-related boards to further explore any direct or indirect, positive or negative correlations and/or causations that might exist between the employment status of Iowa’s health science professionals and their pursuit, attainment and retention of any required or industry-preferred certifications or licenses to practice within the State of Iowa. 

The intended audience for this report is the Iowa Department of Public Health and other public agency partners or stakeholders and is not intended for public use. An executive summary and more generalized review of findings is currently being prepared and should be made available in the near future for public consumption. A series of interactive dashboards will also be available once they have been reviewed and approved by partners. The findings, methodology, and recommendations herein are meant to help guide and inform potential statewide approaches to address the growing skilled workforce shortages in health science in Iowa through various public and private methods by using select occupations piloted in this initial study.

Please contact Paula Nissen, Lead Education Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (paula.nissen2@iowa.gov or (515) 418-8273) or Vlad Bassis, Lead Education Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (vladimir.bassis@iowa.gov or (515) 281-3671) with comments or questions.

Accessing online postsecondary courses through Senior Year Plus programs

Senior Year Plus

The Iowa Department of Education has received inquiries regarding student use of online postsecondary coursework to meet high school graduation requirements delivered through concurrent enrollment and the postsecondary course enrollment options (PSEO) program. The Department offers the following guidance to school districts and accredited nonpublic schools contracting directly with a community college when handling student enrollments into online postsecondary coursework through these Senior Year Plus (SYP) programs.

Eligible students may access online postsecondary coursework and be awarded credit (high school and college) under the same general provisions outlined in statute and administrative rule for concurrent enrollment and PSEO programs. The mode of course delivery, such as online, may not be used as a means of limiting participation or the conferral of credit within these SYP programs.

Contact Jen Rathje, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education (jennifer.rathje@iowa.gov or 515-326-5389) with comments or questions.

Business and financial services career pathways resource now available

Career Pathway - Business and Finance

The Department of Education, in support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, partnered with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Iowa Business Council (IBC), Iowa Business Education Association (IBEA), Iowa Bankers Association (IBA) and the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) to develop promotional materials to highlight a wide range of exciting and fulfilling business and financial services careers in Iowa. A brief employer survey was launched in August 2020, a series of five virtual employer roundtables were held in October 2020 and a closing employer survey was offered in November 2020 to gather direct input from the many different types of industries and employers with a growing need for skilled workers to fill essential business and financial services roles in Iowa, regardless of location, industry or type of business. The finished Opportunities in Business & Financial Services: Iowa Career Pathways resource rolled out in late December 2020 and can be found at SectorPartnerships.educateiowa.gov. Similar resources have been completed for other industries in Iowa, such as advanced manufacturing, building trades and information technology; all can be found on the Department's website. Plans for 2021 include an update of a previous project for the energy and utilities industry and a new product for the agriculture, food, and natural resources industry.

Please contact Joe Collins, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (joe.collins@iowa.gov or (515) 725-0646) with comments or questions.

Iowa IT Apprenticeship Advisory Council meets for the first time


The newly formed Iowa IT Apprenticeship Advisory Council met for the first time on January 19th to help guide and inform the Department in the design, development and launch of new Iowa Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, or IRAPs. This group of business and industry advisors bring a wealth of knowledge, energy and insight with them regarding the needs and potential solutions to address Iowa’s growing skilled tech workforce requirements. The Department was approved to offer this new type of flexible and customizable apprenticeship program by the United States Department of Labor, one of only 27 such entities across the nation referred to as a Standards Recognition Entity, or SRE. The Council will meet monthly until February and then move to a quarterly frequency, with special working groups meeting more frequently to focus on specific topics like youth, adult and virtual-based apprenticeship strategies. Resources and a website are currently being developed and will be made available soon at IRAP.educateiowa.gov.

Please contact Joe Collins, Iowa Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) Coordinator, Bureau of Community Colleges (joe.collins@iowa.gov or (515) 725-0646) with comments or questions.

Iowa Intermediary Network announces upcoming virtual events

Intermediary Network

Register now for upcoming free statewide events connecting industry professionals from across the state to career and technical standards. These events are a great way to enhance student learning in your classroom and introduce students to different career possibilities in Iowa. Register to attend live or to automatically receive the recording after the event has occurred. 

Upcoming Events:

  • Picture Perfect Plate Wars (Culinary)
  • Plumbing Pathway Panel and Tour (Applied Sciences)
  • Control Your Inventory: Make $$$! (Accounting)
  • IT: Emerging Technologies (Information Solutions)
  • Co-ops: Ag for All (Agriculture)
  • Seeking a Solution - Research Careers in Healthcare (Health Sciences)
  • Iowa Manufacturing: Visionary Leaders (Applied Sciences)
  • Carpentry Pathway Panel and Tour (Applied Sciences)
  • Responder Ride Along (Human Services)
  • Game Plans that Matter: Strategic Marketing (Marketing)
  • Labor and Deliver: Bringing Babies into the World (Health Sciences)

Did you miss the statewide events held in the fall of 2020? All of those events are available to download for free. Visit the Intermediary's digital resources page to see additional events and opportunities.

Please contact Kristy Volesky, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, (kristy.volesky@iowa.gov or at (515) 281-3615) with comments or questions.

More equity webinars added - update your calendars

Equity Series Logo

It’s again time to update your calendars for the Iowa Department of Education’s webinar series Social Justice and Equity in Education. All webinars run from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Preregistration is necessary. Upcoming topics include:

Feb. 4, 3 p.m., Youth Voice, Education, and What Actually Works

Feb. 18, 3 p.m., Creating Restorative Schools and Classrooms

Read more and register for these webinars.

If you missed one of the previous webinars, you can watch them on YouTube.      


Jeff Fletcher appointed to U.S. Department of Education's Quality Indicator Project

Jeff Fletcher

Dr. Jeffrey Fletcher, education consultant for the Bureau of Career and Technical Education, has been appointed to serve on the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education’s (OCTAE) Quality Indicator Project. Fletcher’s involvement with the project will help to inform the development of nationwide technical assistance materials that will be used to strengthen the validity, reliability and accuracy of the new secondary quality indicators introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

The Quality Indicator Project is “ a nationwide initiative to build State capacity to implement the Perkins V quality indicators. Project work will inform development of technical assistance materials that States may access online via the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.Recommendations from Quality Indicator Workgroups comprised of State and local-level CTE directors and staff at the secondary and postsecondary levels will support development of the technical assistance materials.”

For more information about the Quality Indicator Project, please contact Jeff Fletcher (jeffrey.fletcher@iowa.gov or (515) 321-7309). 

Division welcomes new Bureau of Community Colleges chief

Amy Gieseke

The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation is pleased to announce Amy Gieseke will join the team as the bureau chief for community colleges on Friday, January 29. 

Amy has an Ed.D. from Northeastern University and a masters in public policy and management from the University of Southern Maine. She comes to the department from Simpson College where she was Dean of Continuing, Graduate and Online Programs. Amy has more than 15 years’ experience in higher education administration, including online, adult, and continuing education at Simpson and within the University of Maine System. We welcome Amy to the department and our system of community colleges.