Cell Phones and School Locker Rooms

Concerns about cell phones and locker rooms came up at a parent meeting at the beginning of the school year. Student handbooks for City HS (p. 6) and NWJH (p.19) have identical language prohibiting the use of cell phones in locker rooms:

Cell phones with cameras and other portable Handheld Technology Devices capable of storing and/or transmitting and/or receiving images are banned from use for any purpose in locker rooms and restrooms at ALL times. Students may be disciplined for any use of Handheld Technology Devices in school locker rooms or restrooms.

West HS (p.24) has nearly identical language:

Cell phones with cameras and other portable technology devices capable of storing and/or transmitting and/or receiving images are banned from use for any purpose in locker rooms and restrooms at all times. students may be disciplined for any use of technology devices in school locker rooms or restrooms.

Interestingly, SEJH and NCJH handbooks don’t seem to directly address cell phones and locker rooms. Here’s the NCJH handbook language on cell phones (p. 7) [note: the most recent handbook linked on the NCJH webpage is the 2015-16 version]:

Students are not permitted to use cell phones without teacher or administrator permission at any time between 8:00 AM and 3:10 PM. Cell phones must be shut off during this time period. We ask that parents not contact their students via their cell phones during the school day. This creates a disruption to the learning environment and may result in a school consequence for the student. North Central will not be responsible for lost or stolen phones.

Here’s the SEJH handbook language on cell phones (p. 14):


Students are allowed to use electronic devices before and after school and during their lunch period. All other times during the school day students should refrain from using their devices unless granted permission by a South East staff member. Staff will have the right to determine cell phone and electronic device policies and procedures that are appropriate for their classrooms. All students will abide by classroom policies. If there is inappropriate or unauthorized use, the device may be confiscated by staff, and may be held until a parent can retrieve the device. Any student who photographs someone else without their permission will be subject to disciplinary consequences and may have their phone confiscated by staff. Any student who videotapes a fight/disruption, or actively encourages inappropriate behaviors will be subject to disciplinary consequences up to suspension from school.

I haven’t thought through how similar student handbooks should generally be, but it seems to me that there should be a uniform and explicit districtwide policy prohibiting any use of cell phones in school locker rooms and restrooms.

Of course, policy is just the beginning. As one parent asked at the meeting, “can you enforce it?”

Is anyone else concerned about cell phones in locker rooms or at school generally? Are these policies enforceable and being adequately enforced at all secondary schools?

One-stop Shopping for the 2016 ICCSD School Board Special Election


Tom Yates created a vacancy on the ICCSD School Board when he resigned on Friday, May 13, 2016. The District has posted notice of the vacancy and a vacancy timeline, which includes important dates for filling the vacancy by appointment or special election.

[Appointment process information moved to the end of the post.]

UPDATE: The vacancy will be filled by special election to be held Tuesday, July 19th.

Due to the short time frame for a special election, I am setting up this post to use as a collection point for information about the possible July 2016 school board special election. I will continue to add information here as it becomes available. If you see that I have missed something, as surely I will, please suggest additional links in the comments or by Twitter.


Follow @jcauditor on Twitter for updates throughout election day. Turnout by precinct will be posted here for turnout through 9 am, 11 am, 3 pm, and 6 pm. Results will be posted here starting after polls close at 8 pm on election day, as returns are become available. Preliminary results in spreadsheet form are here.

  • As of the end of early voting–Monday, July 18th–the Johnson County Auditor reports 1,457 ballots requested, 1,391 returned. If you still have yours, return it to the Auditor’s Office tomorrow; it’s too late to get it postmarked. There were 737 absentee ballots cast in the September 8, 2015 regular school board election, with a total of 7,297 voters (10.5% voter turnout).
  • 9 am voter turnout, at 389, down approximately 250 from ICCSD regular school board election in September 2015. [0.58% of registered voters have voted so far this morning.]
  • 11 am voter turnout, at 935, down approximately 350 from ICCSD regular school board election in September 2015. [1.40% of registered voters have voted so far this morning.]
  • 3 pm voter turnout, at 1999, down approximately 900 from ICCSD regular school board election in September 2015. [3 % of registered voters have voted so far today. IC08 (Helen Lemme) has a 7.26 % voter turnout so far today, with other precincts turnout between 1.48 % at IC06 (Mark Twain) to 4.08 % at IC09 (Hills).]
  • 6 pm voter turnout, at 3318, down approximately 1700 votes from the ICCSD regular school board election in September 2015. [4.98 % of registered voters have voted so far today.]

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: Paul Roesler is the new school board member. 8.64% of registered voters turned out to cast votes in this election, falling short of the 10.5% turnout in the regular school board election in September 2015. Claussen picked up two additional votes when the Absentee Board considered provisional ballots on Thursday. These votes are reflected in updated numbers below (numbers that changed since Tuesday in red):

Results2016 updated


Results will be official with the canvass on Tuesday, July 26th. John Deeth crunches the numbers here.

Continue reading

Implications of an Assessment Delay [updated]

The big assessment news yesterday is that the Iowa Legislature has finally taken action on statewide assessment through SF2323 (education appropriations bill). Whether or not the Senate concurs with the House amendment to suspend the rules adopted by the State Board of Education, both houses have agreed to language that would delay new assessments by one year, to the school year beginning July 1, 2017 (instead of the school year beginning July 1, 2016).

The most obvious question is what’s the test for the 2016-17 school year, but the subparagraph contains a number of other assessment changes that will be delayed as well (assuming no veto by the Governor).

Here’s the relevant portion of current Iowa Code section 256.7(21):

b. A set of core academic indicators in mathematics and reading in grades four, eight, and eleven, a set of core academic indicators in science in grades eight and eleven, and another set of core indicators that includes but is not limited to graduation rate, postsecondary education, and successful employment in Iowa.

(1) Annually, the department shall report state data for each indicator in the condition of education report. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall specify that the approved district-wide assessment of student progress administered for purposes of the core academic indicators shall be the assessment utilized by school districts statewide in the school year beginning July 1, 2011, or a successor assessment administered by the same assessment provider.

(2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for the school year beginning July 1, 2016, and each succeeding school year, the rules shall provide that all students enrolled in school districts in grades three through eleven shall be administered an assessment during the last quarter of the school year that at a minimum assesses the core academic indicators identified in this paragraph “b”; is aligned with the Iowa common core standards in both content and rigor; accurately describes student achievement and growth for purposes of the school, the school district, and state accountability systems; and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of student progress toward college or career readiness.

The delay will also delay a change in state law requirements to test math and reading in grades 3-11 instead of grades 4, 8, and 11 (note federal law requires testing in grades 3-8 and 11).

It will also delay a change in state law requirements to test science in grades 3-11, instead of grades 8 and 11 (note federal law requires testing at least once in each of three grade spans).

It will also delay the requirement for statewide assessments to be administered in last quarter of the school year. And it will delay the additional alignment requirements.

Although it has received little attention, the Assessment Task Force made recommendations last month for ACT Aspire science to be used as the statewide science assessment starting in 2016-17, in grades 5, 8, and 10. [Smarter Balanced assessments do not include a science assessment.] These recommendations seem to be rendered, at least temporarily, obsolete by the delay, which should leave us assessing under the requirements of subparagraph (1) which references, in a roundabout way, the Iowa Assessments or successor assessment by the Iowa Testing Programs.

So, again assuming no veto, what’s the statewide assessment for the 2016-17 school year? It probably depends upon whether the Iowa Assessments are still an option (if anyone knows the answer, please share). My guess is, if the Iowa Assessments are an option, they would be the preferred option for a number of reasons, for example, relatively low costs and schools already know how to administer the tests and interpret the results.

If not, it would seem that the Next Generation of Iowa Assessments would be the only option that satisfies subparagraph (1). Question: if the Next Generation Iowa Assessments are administered statewide in the 2016-17 school year, how does that affect political support for administering the Smarter Balanced assessments/ACT Aspire science assessments in 2017-18?

Update: Matt Townsley shared with me an from Iowa Test Programs dated April 14th, confirming that the Iowa Assessments will be available for the 2016-17 school year:

Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) will continue to offer the Iowa Assessments in the 2016-17 school year.  We plan to support fall, midyear and spring testing and to maintain the current price of $4.25/student if schools opt to partner with ITP.   This price includes paper-based assessments in reading, mathematics, science, English, social studies, computation and other skills-based areas.  Online testing in all areas also remains an option.

Update on Smarter Balanced Assessments in Iowa [updated]

In November 2015, the Iowa State Board of Education adopted rules [IAC 281–12.8(1)(h)] to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments as the statewide assessments for Iowa beginning with the 2016-17 school year. In January 2016, the Administrative Rules Review Committee, through a unanimous vote, put a session delay on the Smarter Balanced assessments rules. A session delay means that the new rules did not go into effect in January, and instead, if the Legislature takes no action, will go into effect at the adjournment of the legislative session.

However, the Iowa Legislature appears to be taking action. Earlier this week, the Iowa Senate passed a one year delay of implementation of new statewide assessments in the education appropriations bill (SF2323 Division I, Section 6). [Note: Division I, Sections 12 and 13 of this bill contain provisions to delay the 3rd grade reading retention and summer school requirements one year, to May 1, 2018.]

This bill, SF2323, is now awaiting action in the Iowa House, where an amendment (H-8257) has been filed by Rep. Vander Linden (R-Mahaska) that, in addition to the one year delay, would nullify the rules adopted by the State Board of Education to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments. Nullification, or the legislative veto, does not require the signature of the Governor.

I am guessing that prospects for a delay of implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessments are good. The Iowa Legislature has not appropriated funding for the Smarter Balanced assessments and none of the amendments currently on file change Division I, Section 6 of SF2323.

Prospects for passage of H-8257 nullifying the rules are less clear. However, it does appear that the Smarter Balanced assessments are lacking strong support in the Iowa Senate, where twenty-four Senators co-sponsored SF 2040, a bill that would have struck 256.7(21)(b)(2) and (3) from the Iowa Code, which are the subparagraphs that create additional requirements for the statewide assessments and the assessment task force.

Stay tuned.

Update: SF2323 was debated tonight. H-8257 was amended by H-8272. H-8272 would suspend the rules adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments [IAC 281–12.8(1)(h)] until July 1, 2017. The amendment to the amendment was adopted by voice vote, then the amendment, as amended, was adopted by a voice vote. SF2323 as amended the Iowa House tonight on a vote of 52-41 and is headed back to the Iowa Senate.

In case you missed it, the Assessment Task Force made recommendations for statewide science assessment in March. The full report (minus the introduction) can be found here and should be available on the Assessment Task Force page after the introduction has been added.

If you want more of the history of Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa prior to November 2015, see The Long and Winding Road to the Smarter Balanced Assessments or other posts tagged SmarterBalanced on this blog.

Added: I’ve had a chance to review the Senate floor debate. The delay language was added by amendment S-5145 by Schoenjahn (D-Fayette) and passed on a 50-0 vote. A similar amendment, S-5144 by Bowman (D-Jackson), containing delay language plus rule nullification language, was withdrawn. SF2323 passed the Senate the first time on a 27-23 vote. The Senate adjourned today (Friday, April 22nd) without taking up SF2323 as amended and passed by the House.



ATF: Report and Recommendations on Science

The Assessment Task Force wrapped up our review of statewide science assessment options March 11th, adopting five additional recommendations:

  • ACT Aspire science assessment to be used in the short-term (no longer than the 2019-20 school year), and administered once in each of three grade spans (3-5, 6-8, and 9-12). [One dissenter–not me this time–wrote a dissent, which is included at the end of the rationale section. In short, an objection to using an assessment not aligned to current standards, even for the short-term.]
  • Science assessments to be administered in grades 5, 8, and 10.
  • State to appropriate funds to pay for the statewide science assessments.
  • The Task Force to meet annually to review science assessment options.
  • The DE to pursue additional options for accessing a statewide science assessment aligned with the Iowa Science Standards (NGSS performance expectations). [I was the sole dissenting vote on this recommendation, but did not write a dissent this time. This recommendation seems overly broad, lacking any useful guidance–and potentially very expensive.]

The recommendations for assessing science in only three grade levels and for a state appropriation will require legislative action. For those tracking costs, ACT Aspire provided estimated costs for the science assessment only (rather than the complete ACT Aspire) of $8.00 per student (computer-based administration) or $13.00 per student (paper-and-pencil) plus an additional $1.20 for student score reports.

The ACT Aspire science assessment was the only currently operational assessment submitted for Task Force review. ACT Aspire does not offer an assessment for grade 11, so it isn’t clear what science assessment would be used for that grade level if the Legislature fails to act. The ACT exam is one, obvious option, but that would be expensive to add on top of administering the Smarter Balanced assessments to grade 11 students.

The Task Force report was presented to the State Board of Education yesterday, and is now available on the Assessment Task Force page. The introduction to the Task Force report, which was part of the report when approved by the Task Force, was omitted. I am still waiting to hear back, but hope the DE will be publishing an amended version of the report with the Introduction soon.

Update: The report has been removed from the Task Force page and will be reposted with the Introduction.

2016 Education Committee Assignments

House Education Committee

There is one change in House Education Committee membership. Tom Moore (R-Cass) has replaced Norlin Mommsen (R-Clinton). Tom Moore won a special election in December to fill the seat formerly held by Jack Drake.

  • Jorgensen (R-Woodbury), Chair
  • Gassman (R-Winnebago), Vice Chair
  • Ruff (D-Clayton), Ranking Member
  • Abdul-Samad (D-Polk)
  • Brown-Powers (D-Black Hawk)
  • Byrnes (R-Mitchell)
  • Cohoon (D-Des Moines)
  • Dolecheck (R-Ringgold)
  • Forristall (R-Pottawattamie)
  • Fry (R-Clarke)
  • Gaines (D-Polk)
  • Hanson (D-Jefferson)
  • Hanusa (R-Pottawattamie)
  • Highfill (R-Polk)
  • Koester (R-Polk)
  • Mascher (D-Johnson)
  • Moore, T. (R-Cass)
  • Salmon (R-Black Hawk)
  • Sieck (R-Mills)
  • Staed (D-Linn)
  • Stanerson (R-Linn)
  • Steckman (D-Cerro Gordo)
  • Winckler (D-Scott)

Iowa Senate

Senate Education Committee

There have been no changes in Senate Education Committee membership.

  • Quirmbach (D-Story), Chair
  • Schoenjahn (D-Fayette), Vice Chair
  • Sinclair (R-Wayne), Ranking Member
  • Behn (R-Boone)
  • Bowman (D-Jackson)
  • Dvorsky (D-Johnson)
  • Hart (D-Clinton)
  • Hogg (D-Linn)
  • Johnson (R-Osceola)
  • Kinney (D-Johnson)
  • Kraayenbrink (R-Webster)
  • Mathis (D-Linn)
  • Schultz (R-Crawford)
  • Wilhelm (D-Howard)
  • Zaun (R-Polk)

Update on Rules to Adopt SBAC in Iowa [updated]

In November 2015, the State Board of Education adopted rules to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments as the statewide assessment for Iowa beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. Today the Administrative Rules Review Committee apparently put a session delay on implementation of those rules [ARC 2312C]. ADDED: Find the minutes of the discussion here.

A session delay is one of the powers the Administrative Rules Review Committee may exercise over agency rulemaking:

The session delay. The ARRC may delay the effective date of a rule until the adjournment of the next session of the General Assembly. The committee refers the delayed rule to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. The rule is then forwarded to the appropriate standing committee for study and possible legislative action {§17A.8(10)}.

This means that the new rules will not be effective January 13, 2016. What action the Legislature will take, if any, to rescind or block these rules remains to be seen as Rep. Jorgensen, chair of the House Education Committee, appears to be supportive of the Smarter Balanced assessments. Still, this is an interesting turn of events.

Also of interest, given that the Governor’s office has been supportive of the Smarter Balanced assessments, is another power of the Iowa Legislature:

The legislative veto. Under the Iowa Constitution the General Assembly has an independent power to rescind any administrative rule The process known as nullification is identical to the enactment of a bill, requiring an absolute majority vote in each chamber, except that it does not require the signature of the Governor (Iowa Constitution, Art. III, section 40).

Update: I hear the vote was 10-0. Members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee are:

  • Rep. Pettengill, Chair (R-Benton)
  • Sen. Horn, Vice Chair (D-Linn)
  • Sen. Chelgren (R-Wapello)
  • Sen. Costello (R-Mills)
  • Sen. Courtney (D-Des Moines)
  • Sen. Jochum [President of the Iowa Senate](D-Dubuque)
  • Rep. Heddens (D-Story)
  • Rep. Jones (R-Clay)
  • Rep. Olson (D-Polk)
  • Rep. Vander Linden (R-Mahaska)