Legislative Update 3/4 [updated]

We now have an education reform bill in the Iowa Senate.  It appears the Senate Education Committee has decided not to work on the Governor’s proposed bill (SSB 1058) and has introduced a proposed Committee on Education bill instead, numbered SSB 1228.

A few of the things missing from the House version: requiring use of student outcomes for teacher evaluations, the school performance index and classification ranking system (that would assign letter grades to schools), Smarter Balanced Assessments, and allowing home school parents to teach their own children how to drive.  Teacher career pathways are in, in a modified form and are not optional, and minimum salaries are set higher.

Division I: Instructional Hours.  Changing the school year from 180 days to 1080 hours of instruction and setting September 1st as the due date for competent private instruction forms to be filed.

Division II: Iowa Online Initiative–Fees.  Allows the DE to establish fees to cover the costs of administering the Iowa Online Initiative.

Division III: Training and Employment of Teachers.  Establishing an 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.

Establishes a teach Iowa scholar program to provide grants to eligible teacher applicants (including teachers employed by charter schools, area education agencies, and accredited nonpublic schools) not to exceed $4,000 per year, and $20,000 per recipient.

Division IV: Teacher and Administrator Matters.  Directing the Director of the DE to review and revise Iowa standards for school administrators, with significant input from Iowa administrators, that are aligned with nationally accepted standards.

Directing the Director of the DE to develop and implement a coaching and support system for teachers aligned with the teacher career pathways and compensation framework.  This version retains teacher peer group reviews–and adds details about the process–but does not appear to allow consideration of student outcomes (i.e. standardized test scores).

Division V: Iowa Teacher Career and Compensation Matters.  Creating a teacher leadership supplement and requiring each school district and area education agency to develop a plan for the teacher career path program.  The plan shall provide that beginning prekindergarten through grade three teachers shall be mentored by a skilled teacher and the plan for mentoring these teachers shall incorporate any recommendations offered by the Iowa reading research center [hope they know what they are doing].

Creates an Iowa teacher career path and sets minimum salaries.  Beginning teacher (participating in the beginning teacher mentoring and induction program), minimum salary of $35, 000.  Career teacher (has completed the beginning teacher mentoring and induction program), minimum salary of $37,000.  Career II teacher (career teacher plus a performance review), minimum salary of $42,000; shall be contracted for an additional five days, shall spend approximately 25% of contract time on non-instructional duties (such as mentoring beginning and career teachers or supervising student teachers), and shall receive an additional $8,000 annually if they engage in peer coaching for at least five hours per week.  Advanced teacher (recommended by a review panel as possessing superior teaching skills), minimum salary of $50,500; shall be contracted for an additional ten days, shall spend at least fifty percent of contract time on non-instructional duties (such as mentoring other teachers, supervising student teachers, planning professional development, organizing peer review groups, and selecting course materials), and may also earn an additional $8,000 annually for engaging in peer coaching.

Each school district must employ at least one career II teacher in each elementary school, one career teacher for each subject area–English, math, science, and social studies–taught in grades seven through twelve, and employ at least one advanced teacher for every three career II teachers employed [I will be waiting for someone else to do the math on this].

Establishing state supplemental assistance for teachers in high-need schools.

Permitting school districts to develop and implement an alternative teacher career path, leadership, and compensation framework upon DE approval and laying out minimum guidelines (including minimum salaries/stipends) that the alternative system must meet.  [Is this based on the Governor’s proposed model/mentor/lead teacher career pathways?]

Each district shall implement teacher career paths, leadership roles, and compensation by July 1, 2016.  School districts are encouraged to utilize teachers emeritus.

Establishes a commission on educator leadership and compensation.

Division VI: Miscellaneous Provisions.  Adds the state board of regents as collaborators in the establishment of an Iowa reading research center, and directs the center to include in annual reports recommendations for assessing early elementary school teachers for leadership roles; for specific training and professional development for mentor and lead teachers; for assessment tools to identify struggling readers and evidence-based measures to respond to their needs; and, for resources, guides, and, informational materials to promote early literacy.

Establishes a competency-based education grant program to help fund pilot and demonstration projects in not more than ten school districts annually (repealed June 30, 2019).

Establishes a schools in need of assistance poverty grant program to fund pilot projects to meet the needs of students not proficient in math or reading.  Pilot projects may include longer school days or school years, summer school, or intensive reading and math programs for non-proficient students (repealed June 30, 2018).

Establishes a world language education pilot project involving UNI and up to three school districts.  The DE shall establish a world language education administrative team to work with the DE and UNI to establish standards, assessments of foreign language competencies, and develop curricula.  The team shall report findings and recommendations to the Iowa Legislature by December 19, 2014.

Establish uses of preschool foundation aid funding such as professional development and purchase of instructional equipment.

Establish a supplementary funding for schools in need of assistance participating in the pilot project described above.

Directs the Board of Educational Examiners to recommend licensing criteria to the Iowa Legislature prior to issuing licenses to non-traditionally prepared teacher candidates.

Prohibiting the use of nicotine products (excluding smoking cessation products) by anyone on school grounds.

Requiring the administration of the teaching strategies gold early childhood assessment to every preK and kindergarten student enrolled in a school district and striking a requirement to administer DIBELS assessment.

Repealing the repeal of the Iowa Early Intervention Block Grant Program (which would otherwise end July 1, 2013).

Directing the DE to implement recommendations of the competency-based education task force.

Establishing a school district reporting requirement task force consisting of five members appointed by the director of the DE to compile a list of reports school districts are required to submit to the DE biennially or more frequently and provide written justification for continuing, modifying, or eliminating the requirement.  Report to be submitted to the state board of education and the Iowa Legislature by December 2, 2013.  The state board shall review the report and report to the Iowa Legislature which changes could be made through the administrative rules process and which would require statutory changes.

Directs a study to be made of the feasibility of establishing professional development schools for preservice teacher candidates in collaboration with school districts and the feasibility of requiring a school year-long student teaching experience.  Study committee findings and recommendation to be reported by December 2, 2013.

Division VII: State School Foundation Program.  Setting allowable growth at four percent.

Update: KCRG is reporting that the Senate Democrats do not currently have enough votes to pass legislation on party-line votes due to illness of Sen. Tom Courtney.


3 thoughts on “Legislative Update 3/4 [updated]

  1. Christy

    Thanks for your great updates, Karen. I am working with a group of teacher educators to try to get professional development schools (PDS) funded here in the state. Clarke and Grandview currently have viable models; Clarke’s program is at least ten years old and going strong. [http://www.clarke.edu/page.aspx?id=1774] I’m glad to see that the Senate is interested in funding the PDS program. It makes a lot more sense than the one-year student teaching pushed out of the governor’s office and the Dept of Ed. If we can get districts on board to help better prepare and mentor teachers-to-be, we’d save a lot on mentor programs; retention of teachers; and we’d just get teachers better prepared to hit the ground running. Our teachers do a great job but often have a steep learning curve.

    Thanks again for keeping the updates going. One to watch: House Study Bill 196, the governor’s anti-bullying law changes, authored by the School Administrators of Iowa. The subcommittee was to meet today about it but postponed until Tuesday. There seems to be some real concern about a “license to bully” clause, using a reasonable person standard to determine whether the bullying is actually a First Amendment free speech issue and therefore protected.

    1. Karen W Post author

      Thanks for the link to Clarke’s PDS program. I confess that after spending several hours trying to read through the bill, that I wondered what the professional development schools were but I was too tired to try to figure it out. They look interesting–are they a good substitute for, or better than, the laboratory schools, in your opinion? Or are they really different things?

      1. Christy

        Good question. I am far from an expert on this but I think the big difference is that the students studying to be teachers (or “candidates” so as not to mix up with the classroom students) are in local schools for most of the day. They get instruction about teaching strategies from college profs or master teachers (hired as adjuncts?) then the candidates spend time in classrooms seeing those strategies in action and, eventually, apply those strategies under the tutelage of the classroom teachers. I like (and see a place for) lab schools, as well as for magnet and charter schools, but PDS programs are truly building a professional link. The candidates are in the thick of it, all day, with a variety of teachers, learning from them and (hopefully) teaching them new and innovative strategies, too.

        From what I understand, the connection between the districts/schools and the teacher prep programs with PDS is strong. And, as we all know in education, we need to figure out a way to stop blaming one another for gaps in teaching and learning (high school teachers blame middle school teachers if students can’t read; middle school teachers blame elementary teachers if students can’t add; everyone blames parents and everyone blames teacher prep programs for failing to prepare teachers). I see the PDS model as helping break down the us/them ideology, enabling our great teachers to help prepare our teaching candidates…which will best serve our students. I can direct you to some better resources and I know the folks at Clarke have a lot to be proud of; I’m sure they can shed light on this if it goes forward.

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