Proposed Rules and the Iowa Code

As expected, the State Board of Education reviewed a notice of intended action for proposed rules, meant to implement Iowa Code 256.7(21), last week.

The complete text of the proposed rules:

ITEM 1. Amend subrule 281—12.8(1) by adding the following new paragraph “h”:

h. Designation of “at least one districtwide assessment.”

(1) For purposes of Iowa code section 256.7, at least one of the districtwide assessments used to measure student progress in core academic indicators in reading and math shall be the assessment developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”).

(2) The department shall select a vendor to administer SBAC through a request-for-proposal process.

(3) The assessment task force shall review SBAC administration and make a recommendation pursuant to Iowa code section 256.7, subsection 21, paragraph b, subparagraph 3, on or before June 30, 2020.

I have two initial thoughts. One is that the proposed rules appear to be in direct conflict with the Iowa Code subsection they are meant to implement. See subparagraph (1) which reads as follows:

(1) Annually, the department shall report state data for each indicator in the condition of education report. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall specify that the approved district-wide assessment of student progress administered for purposes of the core academic indicators shall be the assessment utilized by school districts statewide in the school year beginning July 1, 2011, or a successor assessment administered by the same assessment provider.

The other is that the proposed rules, which are presumably meant to provide guidance, are incomplete with regard to other requirements specified in subparagraph (2), in that they don’t specify a required science assessment, don’t specify the grade levels required to be assessed, don’t specify timing of the assessment administration (last quarter of the school year), and don’t specify an effective date (the school year beginning July 1, 2016).

It may be of interest to revisit discussion that the State Board had, or didn’t have, regarding costs, technology readiness, and implementation experiences in other states. Some of my observations from the August meeting can be found here or here.


If you are so inclined, please take the time to comment. In my experience, rules are sometimes changed–or even withdrawn to be rewritten and renoticed–in response to comments. In addition, the comments will at least be summarized and presented to the board (and thus the public) when the rules are in front of the board for adoption and filing. Finally, consider the following from a document posted on the Iowa Legislature’s website outlining the elements of the rulemaking process:

In a rulemaking preceding [sic] the public is not entitled to a decision based on the evidence in the record, but the public can demand that the agency create a record, based on its decision. Any interested person {meaning literally anybody} may request that the agency prepare: “A concise statement of the principal reasons for and against the rule it adopted, incorporating therein the reasons for overruling considerations urged against the rule.” This provision requires a synopsis of the most important arguments for and against the proposal. The request may be made at any time during the rulemaking, up to 30 days after the final adoption. The statement must be completed with 35 days of the request. [Emphasis in the original changed to bold.]

The comment period is open until November 3rd at 4:30 pm, which is also the date set for the public hearing, which will be held in the State Board Room of the Grimes Building from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Find details for submitting comments (from the first page of the notice of intended action) below or try your luck with the new administrative rules site (though as of right now, the proposed rules are not yet posted). Find the LSA Fiscal Update News Article here.

Comments on the proposed amendments should be directed to Phil Wise, Administrative Rules Co-Coordinator, Iowa Department of Education, Second Floor, Grimes State Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319- 0146; telephone (515) 281-4835; e-mail ; or fax (515)242-5988.

If you end up commenting and are inclined to share what you said, please leave a comment.