Winter 2022 School Leader Update

School Leader Update

Winter 2022

Focusing on what matters most

Director Ann Lebo

As we think about our changing educational landscape and all of the moving parts, it is so important to focus on what matters most — that every student has an opportunity to succeed and teachers feel supported as they help students find their path forward.

Last week I had the honor of recognizing some of our talented and dedicated teachers during the 2022 Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon. These teachers represent all parts of the state — rural and urban, big and small. They teach different subjects — math, science, history, social studies, English, physics and music. 

But what stood out to me was not their differences, but their collective focus.

Save the date for upcoming education leadership conference

Save the Date

You’ll want to save the date for the June 6-9 Iowa Education Conference held in Des Moines.

The Iowa Education Conference (IEC) 2022 is designed to support school leadership teams, educators and their organizational partners to prepare all learners for their future at every step of their educational journey.

Formerly the Special Education Symposium and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) June Institute, the IEC seeks to align statewide efforts to support Iowa’s school districts, area education agencies (AEAs) and partnering agencies and organizations in the provision of leadership, instructional services and other supports to promote the success of all Iowa learners.

Content strands across the event include college and career readiness, early childhood, leadership, literacy, mathematics and social-emotional-behavioral health. Each day has a different focus as shown below.

Iowa Learning Academy scheduling graphic

IEC 2022 seeks to:

  • Strengthen leadership teams;
  • Support implementation of multi-tiered system of supports;
  • Address evidence-based universal and targeted content needs across literacy, mathematics and social-emotional-behavior health for all learners;
  • Build educator knowledge and skills in literacy, mathematics and social-emotional-behavioral health for all learners;
  • Increase knowledge of family and community engagement best practices;
  • Improve understanding of best practices in early childhood, including early intervention, early childhood special education and preschool;
  • Provide information to attendees about current law and requirements in early intervention, special education and ESSA Title programs; and
  • Connect teams with current evidence-based practices in college and career readiness, including computer science.

School administrators, building leadership teams, Early ACCESS providers and service coordinators, educators and providers from early childhood to high school, AEA professionals and higher education faculty supporting pre-service educators and providers will all benefit from the conference.

Registration will get under way in early spring. We will put out a notice when registration is open.

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Teacher and paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship grants

Teacher and students at table with laptop.

To grow Iowa’s teacher and paraeducator talent pipeline and support expansion of Registered Apprenticeship in high schools, the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Workforce Development are seeking applications for teacher and paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship grants.

Up to $9 million in federal relief funding through the American Rescue Plan of 2021, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds has been allocated to fund competitive grants for public school districts partnering with an eligible community college or four-year college or university under the following Registered Apprenticeship models:

High-School-to-Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship:
A Registered Apprenticeship model designed to help high school students begin a career as a paraeducator while earning credit toward an associate degree. This includes currently employed paraeducators who are not high school students.

Paraeducator-to-Teacher Registered Apprenticeship:
A Registered Apprenticeship model designed to help paraeducators continue to work while earning credit toward a bachelor’s degree and teaching license.

Application deadline is March 31; more information is available about the funding and application process.

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Iowa health careers Registered Apprenticeship program

Student working with microscope in a lab.

To provide high school students with the opportunity to explore health-care careers while getting paid and to address the health-care workforce shortage, Iowa Workforce Development is seeking applications for Iowa Health Careers Registered Apprenticeship Grants.

Federal funding through the federal American Rescue Plan Act has been reserved to award a minimum of five competitive grants to support the establishment of a new, or expansion of an existing, high school-based Registered Apprenticeship program modeled on the Patient Care Registered Apprenticeship Program launched last year at the Career Academy of Pella. The program takes advantage of virtual reality and real-world work experience with a local nursing facility and hospital.

Funding priorities include partnerships comprised of, at a minimum, a school district or accredited nonpublic school, a hospital and nursing facility, and a Related Training Instruction provider such as a community college or other qualified training provider, in a community or region collaborating to establish, expand or enhance a Registered Apprenticeship program that prepares Iowa high school apprentices for careers in health care will be considered.

The application deadline is March 1. More information can be found on the website.

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Check out new guidance on Perkins eligibility for platforms

Guidance, Assistance, Support sign

Guidance concerning the eligible use of Perkins funds for the purchase of career information system (CIS) platforms has been released by the Department.

The guidance states that a school district/community college cannot use federal Perkins funds for a CIS if it is state mandated, if the purchase is used by non-CTE students or if they have already been paying for it with other funds such as local, state or other federal funds.

Questions may be addressed to Amy Vybiral (Perkins), Jane Bradley (Regional Planning Partnerships) or Dennis Harden


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National School Breakfast Week is March 7- 11

National School Breakfast Week logo

To encourage families to take advantage of a healthy school breakfast, Iowa schools will celebrate National School Breakfast Week during March 7-11.

Iowa schools offer nutritious school breakfasts to ensure students are fueled for learning every school day. This year, USDA has issued a nationwide waiver allowing all children to receive school breakfast and lunch for free, so it is an ideal opportunity for families to give school breakfast a try.

The School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) theme for this week is “Take Off with School Breakfast” which aims to remind the entire school community how breakfast provides a healthy and energizing start to the day for students. Studies show that students who eat breakfast are more likely to:

  • Reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math
  • Score higher on standardized tests
  • Have better concentration and memory
  • Be more alert
  • Maintain a healthy weight

SNA has promotional resources and ideas for schools to celebrate at  National School Breakfast Week.

For more information, contact or


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Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Monitoring

Teacher reading book with young student

Just a reminder that with the changes in Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Monitoring requirements that started Fall of 2019, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team now determines the scale or scales that are monitored as well as the frequency of monitoring if greater than once a month. The scales identified to be monitored must be indicated in the Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (EL AA) online system. As of December 28, 2021, there were 1,066 students out of 1,764 who had no scales indicated in the EL AA online system.

Requirements include screening on all required scales, monitoring on a minimum of one scale at least once per month.

District Alternate Assessment Contacts have access to the Early Literacy Alternate Assessment online system to monitor at the district level.

For more information, contact Jennifer Denne at or 515-326-5332.

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2022 Conditions for Learning Survey

Teacher addressing student in classroom

The 2022 Conditions for Learning Student Survey will take place from April 1-29. Surveys for staff, parents and families of students will be available during the same period. More information will be shared with district and building administrators about how to administer the survey.

Future Conditions for Learning Survey dates are as follows:

  • April 3-28, 2023
  • April 1-30, 2024
  • April 1-30, 2025

Questions about the survey may be sent to

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Nominate a Teacher of the Year for 2023

Teacher of the Year Logo

Sara Russell of Pleasant Valley was recently honored as the 2022 Iowa Teacher of the Year at the Outstanding Iowa Educator’s luncheon in Des Moines. Would you like to join us at the awards luncheon next year as we honor a teacher from your district or community?

The Iowa Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education by traveling the state and the nation promoting educators, educational practices and serving as a liaison to our schools, professional organizations and institutions of higher education.

The nomination process for the 2023 Teacher of the Year is now open and will close on March 1. Nominations are accepted from students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, community members and associations. Self-nominations and nomination from family members are not accepted. The nomination form can be found at Iowa Teacher of the Year 2023.

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Here’s a novel way to fill a Spanish teacher position

Group photo of Visiting Teachers from Spain.

Need a Spanish teacher for the 2022-23 school year? Check out the Iowa Exchange Visiting Teachers from Spain Program.

The program enables Spanish teachers to have the opportunity to teach in an accredited school in the United States under a visa for up to three years. The program provides local school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the opportunity to fill vacant Spanish and dual language teaching positions.

A dual purpose of the exchange program is to promote cultural and educational exchange between citizens of the United States and those of other countries. The program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the U.S. and then return to home countries to share their experiences.

Local institutions are responsible for ensuring that exchange visitors and their host schools abide by the strict program rules and requirements established by the U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security. Teachers are hired in accordance with all other local policies in terms of salary scale, licensure, and local system requirements.

The Iowa Department of Education will be taking applications for the 2022-23 school year until March 25. Go to the Visiting Teachers from Spain webpage to find information about the program and the application.

For more information, contact Isbelia Arzola at or 515-326-5962.

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Updated computer science instruction requirements released

Children learning computer coding.

The Department has released updated computer science instruction requirements, effective January 24, 2022. House File (HF) 2629 amends existing law, creating several new requirements for kindergarten to 12th grade computer science instruction.

The purpose of this guidance is to summarize what is required, optional and permitted for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools related to computer science instruction. This guidance includes updated technical definitions, requirements for districts and accredited nonpublic schools, required instruction and frequently asked questions. 

For more information, contact Justin Lewis at or 515-669-7007.

Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide update released

High school students working on computer

The Iowa Department of Education has released an update to the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide.

The updated Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide outlines each work-based learning experience with a definition, components of a quality experience and provides a link for individuals to find additional supportive resources.

The updated version includes clarified definitions and descriptions of the work-based learning continuum and essential elements of work-based learning as well as new sections about integration strategies and individual career and academic plans. 

For more information, contact Kristy Volesky at or 515-971-0669.

Guidance for CTSOs, concurrent enrollment released

Students working on CTE project

The Iowa Department of Education has released new guidance to support school districts and community colleges with the implementation of Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) and its impact on concurrent enrollment programs.

The Guidance Impacting Career and Technical Student Organizations and the Senior Year Plus Concurrent Enrollment Program includes information about how school districts and community colleges can work together to provide comprehensive, quality CTE programs and CTSO chapters. 

Contact Chris Dzurick at or 515-419-4792.

Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy courses

Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy Logo


The March 2022 session of the Iowa College & Career Readiness Academy includes a new course:


The class provides professional development for individuals who work on issues at the intersection of systems-involved youth and education.

This session runs from March 14 to May 8. Other courses beginning in March include:






See the Academy webpage for course descriptions and additional information. Classes may be taken for licensure renewal or grad credit, or for no credit (free). Contact Megan Sibbel with any questions.

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