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].

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)

Smarter Balanced Assessments 39

I had no idea that Legislative Services did this sort of thing, but here’s a thirty-four minute Fiscal One-On-One interview with DE Deputy Director Dave Tilly on Smarter Balanced Assessments:


Topics include statewide technology readiness, data security, costs, assessment funding sources, and science assessment.

The DE is planning the following actions for implementing the Smarter Balanced Assessments in Iowa.

  • Technology audit
  • Request for Proposal
  • Professional development and communications activities

Look for these to get started once the rules process is completed with a final review of the rules by the Administrative Rules Review Committee in January 2016.

ATF: Science Assessment Work Update

The Assessment Task Force met on Tuesday to continue work on recommendations for a statewide science assessment.

Among other work, two important recommendations were adopted by the Task Force, which will guide our current work.

  1. The Task Force will recommend a short-term assessment that will be used no longer than the 2019-20 school year.
  2. The Task Force will recommend that the science assessment be administered once in each of the three grade bands (grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) in the short-term.

Implementation of the second recommendation will require legislative action, as Iowa Code currently requires that science assessments be administered to students in grades three through eleven, beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

Iowa School Report Cards

The latest version of the attendance center rankings, rebranded as Iowa School Report Card, was released this morning.

The version released earlier this year showed only two metrics (proficiency and growth), if I recall correctly. Results were displayed in a graph format, with all schools plotted on the same graph. There were certainly problems with the web tool, however, once a school was located it was easy to see how it compared to all other schools in the state.

This latest version incorporates six to eight measures and assigns an overall rating to each school. The measures are proficiency, closing achievement gap, college and career ready growth, college and career readiness (middle and high school only), graduation rate (high school only), annual expected growth, attendance, and staff retention.

Schools are searched and displayed independently, with information about statewide averages. Additional information can be found on subgroup performance by choosing options in the Educational Measures menu. There is a lot of information here, but I’d like to see an easier way to compare specific buildings to each other. I think I’d also like to see a way to search for demographically similar buildings to compare to one another.

This, from page 8 of the Technical Guide, caught my eye:

The report card relies heavily on the Iowa Assessment results across several metrics used in the ratings. Proficiency, growth, college readiness and closing the achievement gaps measures all are generated from Iowa Assessment results. While each of these metrics focuses on answering a different question about performance, there is inherent risk in relying on one tool for many measures. To provide balance other measures such as attendance, graduation rate and staff retention are also included in the system. Additional measures such as parental and community activities and involvement will be included when they are available. Any reporting system can be criticized for potential pitfalls or disagreement about the methods used. These must be taken into context, but these alone do not invalidate the results.

An important consideration in building any type of performance rating or improvement system is the overall cost. Cost can be quantified in multiple ways. For example, there [is] the cost to implement new assessment[s] or the time it would take for students to take a new assessment which might be used in the report card. There are other types of cost such as the time it take for school district personnel to collect and report new data or measures to be included. Existing measures and collection mechanisms were used to meet the requirement of creating a report card for all Iowa schools. The purpose was to contain overall costs and decrease the burden of collection and reporting for Iowa school personnel. (Emphasis added.)

Note that costs will go up as we transition to new assessments and there will be ongoing concerns with using a single assessment for so many purposes.

Find FAQs here and the quick guide here.

Here’s how ICCSD schools are currently rated (Tate could not be rated, Alexander Elementary not included because it just opened):


  • Borlaug Elementary
  • Lincoln Elementary
  • Shimek Elementary


  • North Central Junior High School


  • Hills Elementary
  • Hoover Elementary
  • Lemme Elementary
  • Longfellow Elementary
  • Van Allen Elementary
  • Northwest Junior High School
  • West High School


  • Coralville Central Elementary
  • Garner Elementary
  • Horn Elementary
  • Penn Elementary
  • Wickham Elementary
  • Southeast Junior High School
  • City High School

Needs Improvement

  • Grant Wood Elementary
  • Horace Mann Elementary
  • Lucas Elementary
  • Weber Elementary


  • Kirkwood Elementary
  • Twain Elementary


Are these ratings useful? Here’s one answer from Des Moines Schools Superintendent Tom Ahart.

ADDED: And another answer from Scott McLeod, Iowa school poverty and report card rankings.

ADDED: Press-Citizen: Civil rights leaders criticize Iowa’s new school measure [See also comments on lack of minority representation on education committees.]

SSA Reference Numbers

I occasionally find myself trying to find dollar figures for SSA, as SSA is frequently reported in percentages that can’t easily be compared to other budget item spending. For future reference, here are dollar figures for various SSA percentages for FY 2017 from the Legislative Services Agency by way of @IAHouseGOP:

ADDED: Per student calculation based on 2015-16 K-12 enrollment of 480,062 and rounded to the nearest dollar amount.

  • 1%        — $40.9 million     [$85 per student]
  • 2%        — $83.1 million     [$173 per student]
  • 2.45%* — $102.1 million  [$213 per student]
  • 3%        — $125 million      [$260 per student]
  • 4%        — $168.1 million   [$350 per student]

*SSA percentage suggested by Governor Branstad last year. He has since backed away from this number.

Home School Students and Third Grade Reading Rules

Here is the latest guidance from the DE on universal screening assessments, required by the third grade reading and retention laws, and students enrolled in home school assistance programs (HSAP) and dual-enrollment students.

In short, the DE is now saying that districts should offer the universal screening assessments and services, but should not compel HSAP or dual-enrollment students to participate in the universal screening assessments or services.