Restoring Iowa as the Leader in Education

That is the theme of the draft of the State Board 2014 Legislative Agenda released by the DE as part of the materials prepared for the November 20 meeting of the State Board (presumably it was approved, but the minutes have not yet been posted on the DE website).

The priorities are familiar ones:

  • Improving Teacher and Leader Preparation
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Online Learning and Other Technological Advances
  • Reducing Achievement Gaps
  • Assessment

Shane Vander Hart over at Iowans for Local Control is weeks ahead of me in posting comments about the agenda; see his comments here.

Regarding assessment, I agree with Shane that all signs point to the DE/State Board wanting to move forward in adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessments (see language encouraging the assessment task force “to support reliable testing systems that use the latest technology.”)

It seems that hard feelings remain over the provision in SF2284 that requires legislative action to change the accountability assessments, so I can’t help noticing that the agenda describes the state board as having “these responsibilities and more in helping to enact the laws that the legislative process approves each year.” (Emphasis added.)

I also question the support for a requirement that all students take at least one correspondence course class online before graduation. It isn’t at all clear that this would benefit all or even most Iowa students at this time. Consider the San Jose State online course pilot project with Udacity, which was suspended earlier this year “because of high failure rates” during the spring pilot session, in which high school students accounted for half of the enrollment in the courses. Pass rates improved during the summer session when only fifteen percent of enrolled students were high school students and college graduates accounted for half of the enrollment. The San Jose Mercury News reported on one high school’s experience with having students enrolled in the pilot project courses at San Jose State’s online college course experiment reveals hidden costs.

MOOCs, and why they don’t work, are currently a hot topic of discussion at Kitchen Table Math. If you are looking for some holiday week reading, this KTM post has links to related, recent posts on MOOCs and flipped classrooms just above the comments.