Legislative Update 2/17

HSB4, now weighing in at 71 pages, has been amended by the House Education Committee and renumbered as HF215.

It is expected to be debated on the floor of the House on Wednesday, February 20th.

Division I: Iowa Learning Online Initiative–Fees and Appropriations.  Grants the DE the power to establish fees to cover the administrative costs of the program (which include professional development costs) and an appropriation to create up to three full time equivalent positions within the DE to administer the program.

Division II: Training and Employment of Teachers.  Teach Iowa marketing and public outreach initiative to motivate students to choose teaching careers in Iowa and “[t]o inform the public of the value of the teaching profession and the importance of Iowa’s education system to the future of Iowa.”  [Don’t Iowans famously value education already?]  An appropriation to create up to three full-time equivalent positions within the DE.

Online state job posting system that shall be used by school districts, charter schools, area education agencies, and the DE and may be used by accredited nonpublic schools.

Teach Iowa student teaching pilot project to pilot a one-year student teaching experience and an appropriation to create up to two full-time equivalent positions within the DE.

Teach Iowa scholar program to provide grants of up to $4,000 per year, not to exceed $20,000 over five years, for qualifying teachers choosing to teach in Iowa.

Division III: Assessments–Iowa Certificate of Distinction Program.  Amends Iowa Code Section 256.7(21)(b), which prevented the state board of education from replacing the Iowa Assessments with the Smarter Balanced Assessments without further legislative action, to permit “a successor assessment administered by the same assessment provider.”  [Does this allow the Smarter Balanced Assessments to be adopted without further legislative action as long as the Iowa Testing Program administers them?  These assessments are untested, and will cost more time and money to administer–there should be a full public debate by legislators about adopting them.]  The Director of the DE is empowered to choose a spring test date for accountability tests [note some districts currently choose to administer the Iowa Assessments during the fall].  The accountability assessments shall be aligned with the Iowa Core [note that the Iowa Assessments are aligned to the Iowa Core], shall accurately describe student achievement and growth, and measure student progress toward college or career readiness [I believe Iowa Assessments can provide this information also, at least for college readiness].

Establishes and Iowa Certificate of Distinction Program and an Iowa Certificate of Distinction Program Council to advise and make recommendations.  [A better name than Promise Seals, in my opinion.]  The program is supposed to be optional but Regents Universities and private colleges will be encouraged to consider the certificate of distinction in admissions decisions, community colleges will be encouraged to exempt certificate of distinction holders from further placement assessments, and employers will be encouraged to establish hiring preferences for certificate of distinction holders.

Division IV: Teacher and Administrator Development System.  The state board is empowered to adopt rules establishing a statewide system of teacher evaluation and performance review requirements and evaluation requirements for administrators.  The Director of the DE is empowered to “develop core knowledge and skill criteria for the evaluation and advancement of teachers, and for teacher career development” and to “develop and implement a coaching and support system for teachers aligned with the Iowa teacher career paths, leadership, and compensation framework.”  A school board shall provide for performance reviews that contain “a balanced use of student outcome measures, comprised of objective, reliable measures of student growth, classroom observation, and student surveys.”  [Does anyone still think we should pursue an NCLB waiver at any cost?  That’s a lot of power vested in the state board and the director.]  Council on Educator Development established.  An appropriation to create up to three full-time equivalent positions within the DE.

Division V: Iowa Teacher Career and Compensation Matters.  Proposed teacher career pathways and compensation changes.  Peer review in years two and three of the teacher evaluation cycle would be replaced with a review focused on the professional development plan.  Establish supplemental assistance for identified high-needs schools for extended learning time programs, hiring additional staff, providing additional professional development, or increasing salaries of teachers.

The DE shall establish a performance index to be used as one measure to rank and classify schools into performance categories [see this post for more–seriously, does anyone still think pursuing an NCLB waiver is worth the cost?]

Pilot program for extended learning opportunities for students in need [more time in school for children not doing well in school].

Division VI: Competency-Based Instruction Task Force.  The Task Force is to develop a plan and a proposed timeline for statewide implementation of CBE.

Division VII: Extended Learning Time Pilot Project Model–Appropriation.

All in all, a breathtaking centralization of power in the State Board of Education and the Director of the DE, driven in part by the desire to win a waiver from NCLB requirements, and not a single provision aimed squarely at improving early reading instruction.



3 thoughts on “Legislative Update 2/17

  1. Chris Liebig

    Ugh. The only good educational news from the legislature is no news.

    And three new state bureaucrats to “market” the teaching profession? Top-heavy bureaucracy is the problem, not the solution.

    All hail unelected (and unelectable) Education Czar Jason Glass!

  2. Christy

    Thanks for this summary. I agree with Chris–Jason Glass, the Board of Ed, and the governor’s office are putting a lot of power in Glass in particular. I know this sounds silly but I would be less suspect if Mr. Glass had been a student in an Iowa K-12 district; had taught in Iowa; had gone through any of the higher ed institutions in Iowa; or even lived here for any extent of time. I feel like these reforms are coming from outside (often for-profit) entities and don’t reflect the well-informed and best-interest-of-the-student reforms of past administrations. I’m all for innovation but some of these ideas seem to be targeting non-existent problems while other problems (for example, early childhood intervention/education and effective reading instruction support) seem to be missing entirely.

    1. Karen W Post author

      Christy–thanks for commenting. I agree with your assessment about targeting non-existent problems. I can’t understand why, if we are so worried about reading proficiency, that we aren’t doing more to specifically target reading instruction and figuring out how to best support teachers in delivering effective instruction. It seems like wishful thinking to offer higher salaries and a marketing campaign and school rankings and just hope that the reading thing works itself out as a result.

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