State School Board Retreat

The Iowa State Board of Education is meeting today and tomorrow.  The agenda is available here but be forewarned that clicking on the tabs will download pdf files (rather than opening them in a new browser window).

Here is what the State Board is reading (all available at Tab B):

  • How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better – McKinsey & Company
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – An American Agenda for Education Reform – Marc S. Tucker
  • High Reliability Organizations in Education – Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel)

Legislative update:  Tab C is a 59 page update on all school related legislation this session.  The legislative summary is annotated and some of the notes are interesting, such as these comments regarding students assessments:

The General Assembly requires the State Board to adopt rules that make the Iowa Assessment the only assessment that a school district can use for its district-wide assessment of student progress.  The State Board would have to request of the General Assembly any change in assessment instrument.

The General Assembly seeks to remove from the State Board the authority to make judgments about which assessment instruments best serve students and school accountability, and to move those judgments into the political realm.

The DE is proposing adopting Smarter Balanced Assessments in the place of the Iowa Assessments.  Perhaps “political realm” isn’t meant to be disparaging here, but this places the decision about assessments with (theoretically) accountable elected officials rather than with appointed members of the State Board, appointed director of the DE, and unelected/not appointed employees of the DE.

See also comments regarding the teacher and administrator evaluations provision blamed for the failure of Iowa’s NCLB waiver application:

The recommendations must go back to the General Assembly, rather than the State Board, thereby placing teacher and administrator evaluations in the political realm.

Legislators need to hear from us on these issues.

There will also be an update on the State Board’s priorities:

  • online learning
  • competency-based education
  • reducing the achievement gap

Apparently literacy doesn’t rate a spot in the top three.