School Leader Update Fall 2021

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

Fall 2021

A new school year beckons

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

At the start of every school year there is optimism about what lies ahead. It is difficult to put into words just how much I am looking forward to this year because of all the opportunities to work together to prepare future ready students. 

I am so appreciative of the community of support, respect and determination across our educational landscape. We have collaborated more, forged new partnerships and worked together to find new ways to support the overall wellbeing of our students and sustain academic progress. With supports in place to help all students flourish academically, socially and emotionally, the new year truly brings new opportunities to grow.

New Iowa eTranscript under development

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A unique partnership between the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Board of Regents and Iowa State University is making the Iowa eTranscript Gateway – a much-anticipated innovation – a reality.

The Iowa eTranscript Gateway interfaces with Iowa high schools’ Student Information Systems (SIS) to gather the data needed to produce a transcript for a student and securely transmit it electronically to anywhere in the world, either as a PDF or, for those colleges and universities that prefer, a data stream that can be imported directly into the college admissions office's SIS. The eTranscript is standardized, meaning the same pieces of information are included for every student regardless of their school’s SIS or grading system.

This innovative tool offers many benefits to high schools and postsecondary institutions, including improved data security, quality and cost savings. Visit the website for more information or to sign up to take part in testing.

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Transfer in Iowa assists students with college transfers

Transfer in Iowa logo

Iowa’s regent universities offer the Transfer in Iowa website to assist students who are navigating the college transfer process and planning 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. To accommodate this big step, the website was designed with easy links to answer the question “How will my credits transfer?” Students can also use the website to learn about individual program articulation agreements between various institutions.  

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

School districts and academic counselors should encourage the use of Transfer in Iowa by all students who are  interested in attending college.

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Save the date and register for early childhood institute

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Learn about early childhood research and initiatives, take advantage of the resources of supporting agencies, and hear from national experts and each other at the Early Learning Fall Institute.

The Institute is open to all professionals who work with infants and children, from birth to 8 years old, including staff and consultants from Early ACCESS, Area Education Agencies, Statewide Voluntary Preschool Programs, Early Childhood Special Education programs, and Shared Visions programs. School administrators, elementary teachers, and other early care educators and providers should also consider attending.

All institute sessions will be held during daytime hours. Manny Scott and Lisa Murphy will be the keynote speakers. Registration materials will be available this summer. 

Additional information will be available throughout the summer at Iowa AEYC. Contact Marianne Rodrigues at  with questions.

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Register for Iowa BEST

Save the date graphic

Registration is under way for the Iowa BEST: Behavioral, Equitable, Social-Emotional, Trauma-Informed Health in Schools summit to be held Nov. 2-3 in Des Moines.

The summit is designed to highlight our collective need to bolster support and care across our educational system, and to build our shared capacity to get there. Attend to receive valuable information, resources and practical solutions around social-emotional-behavioral health.

There will be three focus areas:

  1. Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health (SEBH): provides strategies and evidence-based practices around SEBH for all learners and stakeholders in a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) framework.
  2. Family and Student Voice: provides rich learning to improve and sustain family and community engagement to benefit all learners birth to 21, and engage student voice within an MTSS framework
  3. Accelerating Learning: provides strategies and evidence-based practices around accelerating learning and closing achievement gaps for all learners in an MTSS framework.

The summit is co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education and the University of Iowa College of Education.

Register at no cost now. Contact with questions.

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Students: Apply for Senate Youth Program

Graphic of U.S. Youth Senate Program

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.

The 60th Annual US Senate Youth Program will be held in Washington, D.C., from March 5-12. Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity will gather for an intensive week-long 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 Oct. 1.

The United States Senate Youth Program coordinator for Iowa is Rosanne Malek. Contact her at 515-281-3199 or  Additional program information, including the student application, can be found on the U.S. Senate Youth Program page.

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Senior Year Plus guide now available

Adult speaking with a student

The Iowa Department of Education has released an updated Senior Year Plus Guide for Educators and Educational Administrators to assist in supporting Iowa school districts, accredited nonpublic schools and postsecondary institutions with the implementation of the state’s Senior Year Plus programs.

This comprehensive guide is designed to assist educators, counselors, advisors and administrators in understanding the requirements and expectations of the Senior Year Plus programs. The guide contains program descriptions, requirements, timelines and a frequently asked questions section, including other useful resources. The Senior Year Plus guide is available on the Department’s website.

Contact Jen Rathje at or 515-326-5389 with comments or questions.

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Some recommendations for Teach Iowa applicant tracking system

Teach Iowa logo

In preparation for the upcoming months that tend to be busy with hiring, all employers who are using the free statewide Teach Iowa applicant tracking system should note the following recommendations:

  • If you are aware that you have an upcoming transition in human resource administrative duties, ensure that the current manager adds the appropriate point of contact and access for your school district.
  • If you have forgotten your username and/or password, use the "having trouble logging in?" link on the login page. When you enter the email address associated with this email, the system will send you an Account Recovery email. 
  • Utilize the "Teach Iowa Training Resources" menu option for training resources. We highly recommend reviewing the appropriate training at your earliest convenience.

As a reminder of the upcoming training with Q & A opportunities, you do not need to register; you can simply click on the training links that were sent to the points of contacts via email from

  • Aug. 31, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
  • Sept. 2, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

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Preparing for fall 2021 myIGDIs Administration

Preschooler reading

myIGDIs early literacy screening is available for state-funded preschools 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 and ensures a robust universal tier of instruction. The fall window opens Aug. 15 and ends Nov. 14.

Complete this interest survey to get started under the state contract. Districts that administered myIGDIs under the state contract during the 2020-21 school year do not need to complete this survey. To add seats for districts/programs that already have seats under the state contract or to update district contact information, contact Heather Miller ( 

Attending a student rostering webinar live is strongly encouraged for all districts that will administer myIGDIs during the 2021-22 school year. The final live webinar will be Aug. 3 from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Register here

For more information, contact Jennifer Adkins at 515-954-5652 or or review the monthly newsletter on the Iowa-specific myIGDIs website.

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Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) upcoming training opportunities

Students listen to a teacher

On Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m., there will be a webinar highlighting the changes, additions and deletions to data elements, along with some helpful reminders regarding student reporting for the 2021-22 school year.

New User Training:  Cedar Connect/Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI)/Certified Enrollment New User Training will be offered Tuesday, Aug. 31 and Wednesday, Sept. 1, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  If you have new staff working with SRI collections in Cedar Connect, new business managers working on Certified Enrollment or staff who need refreshers, have them attend one of these in–person sessions.   Registration is required.  Due to physical distancing, seating will be limited to 40 persons per session. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Certified Enrollment / Supplementary Weighting: On Thursday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m., this webinar will walk users through the Certified Enrollment application and provide tips to make sure all students get counted.

Upcoming dates and deadlines for Student Reporting in Iowa:

Aug. 16:  Cedar Connect open for snapshots and validation cleanup

Aug. 25:  Non-fall Supplementary Weighting and Graduate Verification application certification

Sept. 1:  SRI and Certified Enrollment test sites open

Sept. 28:  SRI and Certified Enrollment test sites close – all test data deleted

Oct. 1:  Count Day; SRI and Certified Enrollment production sites open

Oct. 15:  Certified Enrollment certification

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New CTE Program Notification

CTE logo

Districts that plan to start a new career and technical education (CTE) program should contact the Bureau of Career and Technical Education by completing the New Program Notification Form Iowa CTE New Program Notification (  This form will be used to help guide secondary school districts with the successful launch of new CTE programs.  After completing the form, the primary school district contact will receive an email containing resources that will help get the program off to a great start.  The appropriate Department service area consultant will also contact the district for help in answering any remaining questions that the district may have. 

Questions regarding the New Program Notification may contact Dennis Harden, bureau chief, Career and Technical Education at

Get Back to School Wellness with these free activities

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  1. Register for the Healthiest State Annual Walk: Join Iowans for 30 minutes of walking on Wednesday, Oct. 6. The first 64 schools to register a walk will be entered into the Mascot Challenge for a chance to win $1,000 for a student wellness project. Register a walk!
  2. Sign up as a 5-2-1-0 Registered Site: Schools are key in improving the environment where students live, learn and play. Register your school to gain access to 5-2-1-0 resources. 5-2-1-0 Registered Schools will be eligible to apply for a Healthiest State Annual Award. Sign up your school!
  3. Celebrate Healthiest State Month: Throughout October, schools, early care programs, and other organizations celebrate 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! Each week focuses on a different 5-2-1-0 habit. Download a free toolkit to get started! Learn more.

For more information, contact Christine Crow (

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P-EBT update

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Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) is available this summer to children who were eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) during school year 2020-21. This includes students who are determined to be newly eligible for NSLP free or reduced-price meals during the covered summer period. No-cost school meals provided in 2020-21 through the Summer Food Service Program do not qualify students for P-EBT benefits.

The Iowa Department of Education submitted summer P-EBT eligibility data to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in July using the June 2021 School Reporting in Iowa (SRI) data submission. A second eligibility file will be provided by the Department to DHS in late August using newly eligible data provided by schools.

Students may become newly eligible for NSLP free and reduced-price meals during the summer by completing an Iowa Free and Reduced Price Meal Application between the last day of SY2020-21 and Aug. 13 and determined to be eligible; or, receiving a DHS Free Lunch Notice Letter; or, being directly certified during this timeframe. Schools should ensure that Iowa Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications are made available to students enrolled in your school. Applications received on or before Aug. 13 should be processed and, if determined eligible, entered into the Student Information System by Aug. 20. The Department will obtain the student data from the school’s Student Information System after the close of business on Aug. 20 ; no action is required from schools for this to occur. Nonpublic schools not participating in SRI or FAST will be contacted for an alternative data submission option.

P-EBT information for schools is available on the Department’s P-EBT webpage. Parents and guardians may call 833-631-2508 or visit the Iowa Department of Human Services website.

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GOLD Assessment required in preschools

Preschool children learning

As a reminder, Iowa Code 279.60 requires the use of the GOLD Assessment in preschool programs. The Iowa Department of Education will now be using the GOLD Assessment for preschool age children as an accountability measure for activities in the Differentiated Accountability System and state level reporting. All programs subscribing to GOLD under the Iowa Umbrella Agreement are now required to annually complete the Spring Checkpoint beginning in the 2021-22 program year. This includes children who receive special education services in preschool programs.

It is recommended programs continue to locally administer and report the Fall and Winter Checkpoints, as recommended by the assessment publisher. This practice also supports the use of formative assessment data as well as various reporting functions within the GOLD Assessment System. 

Note: All three checkpoint periods must continue to be completed in Shared Visions preschool programs. Likewise, some programs may have locally determined requirements for the administration of GOLD based on local boards, funding sources, etc. 

Questions may be sent to

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