House Ed Reform Bill

The House Education Committee’s amendments to Governor Branstad’s education reform bill are available online now (now known as HF 2380).

Here’s the short version of this blog post: Mandatory third-grade retention (beginning July 1, 2016) is in.  An end to seniority-based layoffs is in.  Home rule authority is in.  Changes to charter schools are in.  Expansion of the Iowa Core and creation of a model curriculum are in.  More assessments for students, and more evaluations for teachers and administrators are in.  Changes to teacher preparation programs and parent engagement networks are out.

Here’s the long version of what made the cut:

Creates a competency-based instruction task force to study competency-based instruction standards and options.

Adds music and other fine arts, applied arts, foreign languages, physical education, and entrepreneurship education to the Iowa Core.

Directs the Director of the Department of Education (DE) to create and disseminate a model curriculum.  The model curriculum shall identify a developmentally appropriate scope and sequence of instruction applicable to the core content standards, instructional material resources, and teaching and assessment strategies.

Establishes a core curriculum framework and core content standards advisory council made up of members appointed by the director.

Directs the development of a statewide teacher evaluation system and a statewide administrator evaluation system that school districts, charter schools, and accredited nonpublic schools shall use.  Establishes annual teacher evaluations and annual administrator evaluations.  Directs a statewide educator evaluation system task force to submit findings, recommendations, and a proposal for statewide teacher and administrator evaluation systems by October 15, 2012.

Establishes a teacher performance, compensation, and career development task force to develop recommendations for a new teacher compensation system.  Members of the task force to be appointed by the director.  The task force is directed to submit findings and recommendations by October 15, 2012.

Establishes an innovation acceleration program to provide competitive grants.

Online learning pupils are counted as 0.3 of one pupil (same as homeschool students participating in a district Home School Assistance Program).

Grants the director the authority to grant exemptions for innovative curriculum projects if the director determines the project will adequately meet the educational needs and interests of the pupils and be broadly consistent with the intent of the educational program.  The director will report exemptions granted annually.

Directs the director to maintain an internet posting of education job openings which shall be submitted by school districts, area education agencies, charter schools, and accredited nonpublic schools.

Grants additional funding for students participating in Project Lead the Way (not listed by name but the program fits this description listed in the bill: a class that ” . . . uses an activities-based, project-based, and problems-based learning approach and that is offered through a partnership with a nationally recognized provider of rigorous and innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum for schools, which provider is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code . . . “).

Establishes a school instructional time task force to study whether time should be added to the school day and/or the school year.  Members to be appointed by the director.

Directs the state board to identify and approve multiple statewide assessment measures for accountability reporting.

Directs the DE to establish a new accountability system by July 1, 2014.  The accountability system shall, at a minimum, define and measure student achievement, student growth, student achievement gaps, college and career readiness, student well-being, parent satisfaction, school staff working conditions, school fiscal responsibility, and graduation and attendance rates.  College and career readiness exams will be required (this does not appear to be ACT for all).

Requires the use of high school end-of-course assessments (for subject areas included under the core content standards) as part of graduation requirements.

Directs the DE to establish and implement a value-added assessment system by January 31, 2013.

Directs school districts to administer a kindergarten readiness assessment.  Requires college and career readiness exams for 11th graders and specifies counseling/intervention strategies to be provided depending upon the results.  The results become part of the student’s official education record.

Maintains awards for National Board Certification, including an annual award of $2,500.

Directs the state board to adopt rules to establish a statewide plan for professional development.  The statewide plan shall be designed to make every reasonable effort to utilize best practices, current technologies, and social media, and shall be implemented by the area education agencies.  Directs the director to approve, amend and approve, or reject the professional development plans submitted by area education agency boards.  It appears that ten percent of the professional development supplement (both to the districts and AEAs) will be diverted to the DE for purposes of implementing a statewide professional development plan [the statewide school district portion of this diversion of funding would amount to $1.9 million to $2.7 million (depending on whether it affects just the general PD supplement or general plus Core Curriculum PD supplement)].

Appears to end seniority based layoffs, instead requiring consideration of the teacher’s effectiveness and the teacher’s licensure and endorsements and the needs of the district.  If teachers considered for layoff are substantially equal on these points, then hiring dates may be considered.

Revises the charter school law including: expanding the kinds of entities eligible to submit charter school applications; requiring charter schools to comply with the core curriculum, core content standards, and assessments; setting rules for the formation of the charter school board; requiring charter schools to apply for permission to expand; and allows charter schools to lease, build, or purchase space.

Establishes a literacy plan similar to the Senate bill plan except with mandatory third-grade retention (subject to a few good cause exemptions) beginning July 1, 2016.

Grants home rule authority to school district boards of directors.

Establishes an interim study committee relating to online learning and programming for school districts and related educational issues.


5 thoughts on “House Ed Reform Bill

  1. Chris

    Karen, what does the home rule provision actually mean? If anything, the bill seems to be making further incursions on the autonomy of local school boards…

  2. Karen W Post author

    Chris, it is a curious addition to a bill that otherwise concentrates control at the state level. My best guess is that home rule is a long-standing legislative priority that found its way into the bill even though it doesn’t appear to make much sense. Perhaps some programs that have no clear authority (magnet schools?) might be helped by home rule even as other decision-making is restricted.

    My prediction is that the Senate will pass the Senate bill and the House will pass the House bill and that the home rule provision will not survive the conference committee process.

  3. Chris

    Thanks for the link. I read through the “home rule” parts and am still puzzled as to what powers they would give the school boards that the boards don’t have already. Maybe my next email to my legislators will be asking for some insight into what those sections are actually changing.

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