Category Archives: instructional time

“Our children are worth it.”

Mary Ellen Miller, member of the Iowa State Board of Education, keeps defending the decision to move forward with adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments by saying, “Our children are worth it.

I have not heard a single critic of the Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa say that our children aren’t worth it. The issue isn’t the inherent worth of Iowa’s school children, the issue is whether the Smarter Balanced assessments are worth it, whatever “it” is. And “it” is whatever districts will need to cut from their budgets to pay for the additional costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Heads up, ICCSD school board candidates. Here’s what Chief Academic Officer Becky Furlong had to say about how adoption of the Smarter Balanced assessments could affect the district:

However, she said the Smarter Balanced tests could have a major impact on ICCSD.

Furlong said the new exams cost more than the current Iowa Assessments, and that the district might struggle with a lack of bandwidth to administer them. She said students who aren’t familiar with online tests also might be at a disadvantage.

“There are some legitimate concerns,” she said.

Furlong said she hopes the Department of Education will provide adequate time, funding and professional development to districts to successfully implement the new tests.

Of course, the DE doesn’t appropriate money for schools, that’s up to the Iowa Legislature. And while Miller may be of the opinion that it would be “easy” for the Legislature to find the money, the 2015 legislative session suggests otherwise.

School Start Dates [updated]

The DE has released a five-page document providing guidance to districts on school state date waivers.

Applications for the 2015-2016 school year are due no later than March 15. For future school years, the waiver application will be due by November 1, with decision-notification no later than January 15.

A school district (or accredited nonpublic school or independently accredited school)  seeking a waiver bears the burden of proving that compliance with the start date law would have a significant negative educational impact and this document offers guidance on the type of evidence the director may consider.

The most important guidance is the list of reasons for a waiver that will not be considered to constitute a significant negative educational impact:

  • claimed adverse effect based on personal anecdotes, opinion pieces, or advocacy position papers (the director will consider whether scientifically based research or other peer-reviewed research supports the claim and will consider valid and reliable measures of local academic achievement and/or learning environment that demonstrate negative educational impact);
  • adverse effect that can be resolved or remedied through other means;
  • extra-curricular scheduling (schedules will adjust to accommodate start dates);
  • PSEO or local college calendars (students are not prohibited from attending college courses prior to the allowed K-12 start date);
  • completion of first semester before winter break (move to an hours-based calendar and fit the semester’s worth of hours in before the break);
  • professional development for teachers (allowed to take place before the instructional start date);
  • snow days (did we mention hours-based calendars?);
  • bus scheduling (revise your schedules/contracts); or
  • other rationales not related to academic achievement, instruction and/or learning environment.

I’m not sure what local district officials had planned for their waiver application, but I would be surprised to see any waivers granted. And I’m not the only one:

Of course, there is plenty of time for the Iowa Legislature to take action on this issue. HF 13, which would eliminate the start date limitation altogether has bipartisan support. The Senate Education Committee has a similar proposed bill, HSB 1058, which would also eliminate the start date limitation but adds language indicating that the determination of the start date be “based on the best educational interests of the students.” The subcommittee for this bill is a bit larger than usual, with five members: Bowman (D-Jackson), Hart (D-Clinton), Wilhelm (D-Howard), Sinclair (R-Wayne), and Johnson (R-Osceola). Note that Senator Johnson represents Okoboji and the Okoboji Tourism Committee has already registered against this bill, as well as HF 13.

Yet another bill addressing the school start date issue was filed yesterday in the Iowa Senate and referred to the education committee. SF 47 by Feenstra (R-Sioux) takes a different approach. It would set August 15 as the earliest permissible start date and June 15 as the latest permissible end date. Schools maintaining a year-round three semester school calendar would be exempted from this requirement and the penalty provision for impermissibly early starts. This bill would also eliminate DE authority to issue start date waivers.

Iowa City schools held the first day of classes for the 2014-2015 school year on August 19 and have proposed the same start date for the 2015-2016 school year (but almost certainly start on August 31 instead). Apparently other schools started earlier, but the August 15 date would be closer to actual start dates schools have been using than the September 1 date.

The Okoboji Tourism Committee, the Travel Federation of Iowa, and the Iowa State Fair have already registered against SF 47.

Update: there has been some interest on Twitter about the early start date penalty. Iowa Code 257.17 calls for a 1/180th reduction in state aid payments for each day of school held before the earliest permissible start date unless the school or district has been granted a start date waiver.

Legislative Update 1/18

There are currently twenty bills in the House Education Committee:

  • HF 5 by Fisher (R-Tama) relating to adding the position of principal to the category of operational functions that receive supplementary weighting. [Subcommittee: Dolecheck (R-Ringgold), Fry (R-Clarke), and Ruff (D-Clayton).]
  • HF 12 by Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Story) relating to the establishment of an academic coaching endorsement (to coach students and work with other practitioners to improve student academic performance and progress) by the BOEE. [Subcommittee: Koester (R-Polk), Abdul-Samad (D-Polk), and Mommsen (R-Clinton).]
  • HF 13 by Jorgensen (R-Woodbury) and twelve co-sponsors eliminating the school start date limitation and related waiver and penalty provisions. [Subcommittee: Forristall (R-Pottawattamie), Stanerson (R-Linn), and Winckler (D-Scott).] The Iowa Catholic Conference, School Administrators of Iowa, and the Iowa Association of School Boards are registered in favor of the bill. The Iowa Lodging Association, the Iowa Restaurant Association, the Association of Iowa Fairs, the Okoboji Tourism Committee, and the Travel Federation of Iowa are registered against the bill.
  • HF 36 by Hunter (D-Polk) establishing a worker shortage loan forgiveness program.
  • HSB 7 proposed by the BOEE making a statutory correction regarding the employment of the executive director of the BOEE. [Subcommittee: Gassman (R-Winnebago), Brown-Powers (D-Black hawk), and Salmon (R-Black Hawk).]
  • HSB 8 proposed by the BOEE relating to timelines for investigating complaints and determining probable cause. [Subcommittee: Gassman (R-Winnebago), Highfill (R-Polk), and Staed (D-Linn).] The Iowa State Education Association is registered against this bill.
  • HSB 9 proposed by the DE relating to licensure of childcare programs operated or contracted for by a school district or accredited nonpublic school. This is the prefiled bill that would leave DHS the sole agency authorized to license childcare programs, including before and after school programs. [Subcommittee: Fry (R-Clarke), Mascher (D-Johnson), and Salmon (R-Black Hawk).] The Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa and YMCA State Alliance are registered in favor of this bill.
  • HSB 10 proposed by the College Student Aid Commission relating to the duties of the college student aid commission. [Subcommittee: Forristall (R-Pottawattamie), Stanerson (R-Linn), and Winckler (D-Scott).]
  • HSB 11 proposed by the DE relating to the duties and authority of the state board of education and the DE, a prefiled bill blogged about in more detail here. [Subcommittee: Hanusa (R-Pottawattamie), Gassman (R-Winnebago), and Ruff (D-Clayton).]
  • HSB 12 proposed by the DE relating to eligibility requirements for the gap tuition assistance program. [Subcommittee: Byrnes (R-Mitchell), Gaines (D-Polk), and Mommsen (R-Clinton).]
  • HSB 13 proposed by the DE establishing an Iowa principal leadership institute advisory council. [Subcommittee: Dolecheck (R-Ringgold), Mommsen (R-Clinton), and Staed (D-Linn).]
  • HSB 14 proposed House Committee on Education bill relating to interstate reciprocity agreements enter into, administered, or recognized by the college student aid commission. [Subcommittee: Stanerson (R-Linn), Salmon (R-Black Hawk), and Winckler (D-Scott).]
  • HSB 15 proposed House Committee on Education bill relating to the limitation on the annual amount of an Iowa tuition grant paid to a qualified student, removing the $5,000 cap. [Subcommittee: Stanerson (R-Linn), Brown-Powers (D-Black Hawk), and Dolecheck (R-Ringgold).]
  • HSB 16 proposed by the DE making districts receiving teacher leadership supplemental aid payments ineligible to also receive payments under the beginning teacher mentoring and induction program. [Subcommittee: Dolecheck (R-Ringgold), Highfill (R-Polk), and Steckman (D-Cerro Gordo).] The Iowa State Education Association is registered against this bill.
  • HSB 17 proposed House Committee on Education bill relating to transitional coaching authorizations issued by the BOEE. [Subcommittee: Gassman (R-Winnebago), Byrnes (R-Mitchell), and Hanson D-Jefferson).]
  • HSB 18 proposed by the DE relating to payment of costs for educational services for children residing in certain psychiatric hospitals or institutions. Among other provisions, this bill would appear to relieve the district of residence of the responsibility to pay tuition for children placed in psychiatric hospitals or institutions voluntarily by parents. [Subcommittee: Fry (R-Clarke), Cohoon (D-Des Moines), and Koester (R-Polk).]
  • HSB 19 proposed House Committee on Education bill requesting a legislative interim committee to evaluate use of SAVE funds, consider proposals for additional or alternative uses of SAVE funds, and consider and extension of the repeal date (423F.6 currently sets the repeal date for December 31, 2029). [Subcommittee: Highfill (R-Polk), Hanson (D-Jefferson), and Jones (R-Clay).]
  • HSB 36 proposed by the BOEE relating to information the BOEE is required to review regarding applicants for license renewal. [Subcommittee: Mommsen (R-Clinton), Abdul-Samad (D-Polk), and Koester (R-Polk).]
  • HSB 38 proposed House Committee on Education bill relating to certain costs under the statewide preschool program. [Subcommittee: Koester (R-Polk), Hanusa (R-Pottawattamie), and Mascher (D-Johnson).]
  • HSB 39 proposed by the Governor. This is the “Bully Free Iowa Act of 2015”. [Subcommittee: Stanerson (R-Linn), Byrnes (R-Mitchell), and Mascher (D-Johnson).]

There are currently five bills in the Senate Education Committee, three of which were prefiled by Johnson and blogged about in more detail here:

  • SF 4 by Johnson (R-Osceola) relating to open enrollment of students in online learning programs. [Subcomittee: Dvorsky (D-Johnson), Johnson (R-Osceola), and Quirmbach (D-Story).] The Iowa State Education Association is registered against this bill.
  • SF 5 by Johnson (R-Osceola) authorizing the executive director of the BOEE to waive subject assessment requirements for teacher licensure. [Subcomittee: Dvorsky (D-Johnson), Johnson (R-Osceola), and Quirmbach (D-Story).]
  • SF 6 by Johnson (R-Osceola) relating to dropout prevention programs and funding. [Subcommittee: Quirmbach (D-Story), Hogg (D-Linn), and Johnson (R-Osceola).]
  • SF 16 by Zaun (R-Polk) repealing the Iowa Core Curriculum. [Subcomittee: Dvorsky (D-Johnson), Quirmbach (D-Story), and Zaun (R-Polk).] The School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa State Education Association, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and the Iowa Chamber Alliance are registered against this bill.
  • SF 17 by Sodders (D-Marshall), upon quick inspection this bill looks to be identical to HF 5, though they are not currently listed as related bills. [Subcommittee: Bowman (D-Jackson), Schoenjahn (D-Fayette), and Sinclair (R-Wayne).]

Defining Over-testing

Michael Petrelli, at Flypaper, writes approvingly of the Ohio State Superintendent’s recommendation to limit testing time to two percent of instructional time, and test preparation to one percent of instructional time.* He seems to suggest that this is reasonable and therefore, by definition, not over-testing.

This strikes me as an argument similar to arguments that spending for testing–or any other program at issue–only represents X% of the budget, as a reason for doing it. It is good to know how much time and money is being spent, and may even be useful to know how it fits into the big picture, but that only gives us a sense of the cost piece of the cost-benefit analysis, not the benefit piece.

So, off the top of my head this afternoon, I would suggest that the use of tests that serve no educational purpose for the students might be, by definition, over-testing. The use of tests with poor reliability might be, by definition, over-testing. The use of tests that are longer than necessary to acquire results adequate for the stated educational purpose might be, by definition, over-testing. And this could be true even if the tests themselves fit within the “reasonable” two percent of instructional time.

*In Iowa (based on a 1080 hour school year), this would amount to 21.6 hours for testing and another 10.8 hours for test preparation, for a total of 32.4 hours per year. [Note: students on a fifteen minute lunch schedule have 45 hours per year for lunch.] The graphic below depicts assessments, many of them standardized, that Iowa students may be expected to take throughout their K-12 careers.

System of Assessment

Legislative Update 1/7

The 2015 legislative session starts in five days and the DE has prefiled two more proposed bills.

The first would end the DE’s involvement in oversight of child care programs and before and after school programs operated or contracted by school districts or accredited nonpublic schools. This bill would leave DHS as the sole state agency responsible for licensing these programs.

The second is a technical corrections and efficiencies bill. This bill would make changes to the program for attending school out of the state [282.8](for Iowa students for whom schools across the state line are closer than the public school of residence), whole grade sharing agreements [282.10], open enrollment [282.18], and budget adjustment [257.14].

This bill would repeal the teacher exchange program [256.7(15), 279.55-279.57], pilot projects to improve instructional programs [256.19], and the requirement that local school boards, if they participate in local, regional, and national organizations, annually report to the local community and the DE the amount the board pays in annual dues, the amount of fees paid and revenue or dividend payments received for services the board receives from the organization, and the products or services the school district received inclusive with membership in the organization [279.38A].

The bill would also strike the following duties of the director of the DE: to print in book form all school laws every four years [256.9(26)] and distribute annually any amendments or changes in the school laws as prescribed in subsection 26 [256.9(27)]; to develop a model written publications code including reasonable provisions for the regulation of the time, place, and manner of student expression [256.9(36)]; to administer the teacher exchange program [256.9(40)]; to submit an annual report to the general assembly by January 1 regarding activities, findings, and student progress under the Iowa Core Curriculum [256.9(54)] (question: is this the annual condition of education report?); and, to report to the general assembly annually about the necessity of waiving any statutory obligations for school districts due to a disaster [256.9(59)].

The bill would also strike the requirement for the DE to annually report statewide progress on student achievement scores in mathematics and reading at the fourth and eighth grade levels on a district-by-district basis, evaluator training program, and changes and improvements in evaluation of teachers under the Iowa teaching standards [284.12]. 284.12 would be further amended to change the requirement for the DE, in developing administrative rules for consideration by the state board, to consult with specified persons to instead consult with stakeholders who might reasonably be affected by the proposed rule.

It might be more efficient to remove reporting requirements, but that doesn’t seem to be a move towards maintaining or improving government transparency. It makes sense to end requirements to provide print copies if the DE will still be required to make electronic copies of the same materials available. And, if the reporting requirement results in annual reports that there is nothing to report (maybe there aren’t many disasters that require waivers, for example) or the reported information is also reported in another required report, it might make sense to repeal the reporting requirement. But if these changes are meant to allow the DE and local school boards to operate with less transparency, I am not in favor of that. If anyone better understands these changes, please explain in a comment.

According to my Twitter feed, anti-bullying legislation and school start dates, plus supplemental state aid are the big education issues. We will see if assessment and broadband upgrades for schools rate a mention in Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State address on Tuesday, January 13 at 10:00 am.

Also learned on Twitter today:

 

School Start Dates

I was in a local classroom this week that was noticeably–though not yet unbearably–hot by 10:30 am, and quite frankly, I’m not sure how much is being accomplished in classrooms without air conditioning around the district.

So this might be a week that the tourism industry may have more sympathy on the school start date issue than usual.  But it is a long time until the upcoming legislative session, where school start date rules are likely to be an issue again after the State Board of Education failed to move forward on proposed rule changes that would have limited school start date waivers.

Heat notwithstanding, I still come down in favor of local control of school start dates.

Schools serve communities and the school calendar ought to reflect the rhythms of the community.  It makes sense to have calendars that match up with local colleges (especially as more kids use the PSEO option), athletic,and other school activity calendars, and local events.

Proposed School Start Date Rules

The Iowa Department of Education has issued a Notice of Intended Action to adopt changes to Chapter 12.  The rules changes are needed, in part, to implement the code change from instructional days to instructional hours or days.  They are also part of the promised crack down on early school start dates.

All but eight of 348 school districts received were granted requests to start school in August during the past school year.  Radio Iowa reports that thirty percent of school districts will be affected by the proposed rules.

The proposed rules appear to allow school districts to request a waiver to start the school year up to seven days–or eleven days, if September 1st falls on a Monday or Tuesday–early by passing a resolution declaring the existence of a significant negative impact.  For districts seeking to start earlier than that, the district must demonstrate significant negative educational impact by satisfying a majority of the following criteria:

  • “A start date of 7 days or less than the statutory start date is not feasible;” [Missing the word earlier here to describe the relationship between the seven days and the statutory start date?  How high a bar is “not feasible’?]
  • Academic achievement will be negatively impacted in the school district as measured by test scores and as supported by scientifically based research;
  • The statutory start date would harm academic achievement despite the use of hours rather than days for counting instructional time;
  • Taxpayer interests would be significantly harmed by the statutory start date because actual budget savings could be produced by an earlier start date;
  • The statutory start date will present a hardship to the district staff such that quality staff would be difficult to attract and retain, resulting in a negative effect on student achievement;
  • The statutory start date conflicts with extracurricular, community, or educational opportunities, resulting in a negative effect on student academic achievement;
  • The statutory start date prevents completion of the first semester prior to winter break, resulting in a negative effect on student academic achievement.

In other words, the interests of Iowa’s tourism industry outweigh pretty much every other interest–student, family, school administration, or community.

The Iowa Association of School Boards has the full text of the Notice of Intended Action.  A public hearing on the proposed rules will be held at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, September 10 (which is also School Election Day–Todd Dorman at The Gazette reminds us to take an interest).  Written comments can be submitted on or before 4:30 pm of the same day.  See the Notice of Intended Action for details.

School Start Dates [updated]

School start dates are back in the news.  Radio Iowa reports “Branstad’s Department of Education to crack down on early school start dates.”  More from Radio Iowa:

Administrators argue an early August start date allows for longer holiday breaks and lets schools in college towns synchronize their school schedule with the college. Branstad appears unmoved.

“All the studies and statistics I’ve seen show that having an earlier start date has not improved academic achievement,” Branstad says. “In fact, academic achievement has gone down in Iowa compared to other states like Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and a lot of other states in other parts of the country that have a much later start date.”

Last year, the Instructional Time Task Force was unable to reach a consensus about the start date issue although a majority favored local control of the start date.

A rules change could be in effect as early as the 2014-15 school year and would affect most Iowa school districts; The Gazette reports that ” in the past school year all but eight of Iowa’s 348 public schools were granted requests to begin classes in August.”

Update: The Gazette reports area administrator reactions.

HF 215 Conference Committee Report [updated]

Update: see note on supplemental state aid under Division II.

The conference committee report on HF 215 on education reform was filed today.  The House concurred with the conference committee report [voice vote] and then passed HF 215 as amended passed [95-0].  The Senate adopted the conference committee report by voice vote and passed HF 215 as amended [40-10].

The short summary: schools are getting 2% allowable growth plus a one time 2% payment for FY14 and 4% allowable growth for FY15.  The Certificate of Distinction program is out.  Smarter Balanced Assessments are out for now (see Division V for details).  Teacher career paths, leadership and compensation system changes are in, as are school grading/performance rankings.  Student outcome measures are in but defined specifically and broadly to include more than standardized test scores.  Changes to home school reporting requirements, allowing home school parents to teach driver education courses and authorizing independent private school accreditation are in.

Division I: School District Funding.  Allowable growth is set at 2% for FY14 and 4% for FY15.  Adds a new section 257.16B School district property tax replacement payments which has the state funding 100% of allowable growth from FY14 on.  Adds a 2% school district funding supplement for FY14.

Division II: School District Funding Terminology.  Replacing allowable growth with supplemental state aid.  Updated to add: Unlike allowable growth, supplemental state aid will be 100% funded by the state.

Division III: Iowa Learning Online Initiative–Fees and Appropriations.  Mandates that the DE establish fees payable by school districts and accredited nonpublic schools, such fees to be used to administer this section with administration including professional development for teachers to participate in the initiative.  Appropriating one million five hundred thousand dollars in each of FY15 and FY16 for not more than three FTE positions.

Division IV: Training and Employment of Teachers.  Directs the DE to provide for the operation of 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 student teaching pilot project that shall provide teacher candidates with a one-year student teaching experience.  Establishes a teach Iowa scholar program open to both Iowa residents (get priority) and nonresidents.  Applicants must be in the top twenty-five percent of their graduating class and must be preparing to teach in STEM, ESL, special education, or hard-to-staff subjects as identified by the DE.  Teach Iowa scholar grants shall not exceed $4000 per year or a total of $20,000 over a five-year period.

Division V: Assessments.  Moving from required assessments for grades four, eight, and eleven to end of year assessments for grades three through eleven is postponed from the 2014-15 school year to the 2016-17 school year and language requiring the assessment be developed by a consortium in which Iowa is a participant have been removed from the bill [Smarter Balanced Assessments are not being adopted at this time].  The director shall establish an assessment task force to review and make recommendations for a statewide assessment of student progress and the task force shall consider the costs to school districts and the state in providing and administering the assessment and the technical support necessary to implement the assessments.  Task force recommendations are due January 1, 2015 and the task force shall include teachers, school administrators, business leaders, representatives of state agencies, and members of the general public.

Division VI: Council on Educator Development.  Establishes a council on educator development to conduct a study and make recommendations regarding a statewide teacher evaluation system and performance review requirements and a statewide administrator evaluation system.  In developing recommendations for any evaluation system the council shall consider, in addition to other items, the fair and balanced use of student outcome measures comprised of multiple, reliable indicators of student growth and learning that are appropriate to the curriculum and the students being taught.  The measures may include gauges of higher order skills such as student research papers, science investigations, technology products, and art projects; teacher-defined objectives for individual student growth; student learning objectives; district, school, or teacher-created assessments; and high-quality standardized tests.  The council shall provide for wide distribution of a preliminary draft of recommendations to teachers, administrators, and school boards by October 1, 2015 and provide a mechanism and opportunity for the submission of feedback that shall be reviewed by the council prior to making final recommendations, which are due by November 15, 2016.

Division VII: Iowa Teacher Career and Compensation Matters.  Establishes a teacher leadership supplement beginning in FY15.  The teacher leadership funds shall be used to increase payment for a teacher assigned a leadership role pursuant to a framework or an approved comparable system; to increase the percentage of teachers assigned leadership roles; to increase the minimum teacher starting salary to $33,500; to cover the costs for time mentor and lead teachers are not providing classroom instruction; to cover the costs of initial or career teachers observing or co-teaching with teaches assigned leadership roles; for professional development associated with career pathways leadership; and for other approved costs associated with a framework or approved comparable system.  Establishes state supplemental assistance for high-need schools.  Appropriates fifty million dollars each year for FY15, FY16, and FY17 for teacher leadership supplemental aid payments.  Appropriates ten million dollars for FY15 and each subsequent fiscal year for supplemental assistance for high-need schools.  Establishes a framework for Iowa teacher career paths, leadership roles, and compensation with option to seek approval for a comparable system of career paths and compensation for teachers that contains differentiated, multiple leadership roles.  AEA-employed teachers can be part of the framework or the approved comparable system.

  • Initial teacher.  At least $33,500 salary and shall complete a teacher residency during first year of employment that includes intensive supervision or mentoring by a mentor or lead teacher; collaboration time to observe and learn from model, mentor, and lead teachers; five additional contract days beyond career teachers to be used to strengthen instructional leadership.
  • Career teacher.  Successful completion of initial teacher mentoring and induction program and has demonstrated competencies of a career teacher.
  • Model teacher.  Meets requirements of career teacher, demonstrates competencies of a model teacher, has participated in a rigorous review process, and has been recommended for a one-year model teacher assignment by a site-based review council.  Five additional contract days beyond career teachers and an annual salary supplement of at least $2000.  Districts shall designate at least ten percent of its teachers as model teachers.
  • Mentor teacher.  Demonstrates competencies and superior teaching skills of a mentor teacher and has been recommended for a one-year mentor teacher assignment by a site-based review council.  A teaching load of not more than 75% student instruction.  Ten additional contract days beyond career teachers and an annual salary supplement of at least $5000.  Districts shall designate at least ten percent of its teachers as mentor teachers.
  • Lead teacher.  Recommended for a one-year lead teacher assignment by a site-based review council based on an assertion that the teacher possesses superior teaching skills and the ability to lead adult learners.  Lead teacher roles may include the planning and delivery of professional development to improve instructional strategies; facilitation of instructional leadership teams within the building, district, or other districts; mentoring other teachers; and participation in the evaluation of student teachers.  A teaching load of not more than 50% student instruction.  Fifteen additional contract days and an annual salary supplement of at least $10,000.  Districts shall designate at least five percent of its teachers as lead teachers.

National board certified teachers who meet the requirements of section 256.44 shall continue to receive the specified award in addition to compensation set out in this section. Establishes a commission on educator leadership and compensation.  Comparable system means either an instructional coach model or a system of career paths and compensation that contains differentiated, multiple leadership roles approved by the DE.

The instructional coach and curriculum and professional development model includes at a minimum: beginning teacher level, career teacher level, instructional coach level (ten additional contract days beyond career teacher and $5000 to $7000 annual stipend), curriculum and professional development leader level (fifteen additional contract days beyond model teacher and $10,000 to $12,000 annual stipend), and model teacher level (five additional contract days beyond career teacher and an annual salary supplement of at least $2000).  Goal to assign at least one instructional coach per attendance center or per every five hundred students enrolled in an attendance center and assignment of at least ten percent of its teachers as model teachers.

Directs the DE to develop criteria and a process for school districts to use to establish specific performance goals and to evaluate the performance of each attendance center operated by the district to arrive at an overall school performance grade and report card for each attendance center which shall be posted on the DE’s internet site.  Criteria shall include student academic growth, parent involvement, student attendance, employee turnover, and community activities and involvement.  The DE shall develop an achievement score that calculates aggregate growth as well as aggregate proficiency which when combined with other academic indicators results in an overall school performance grade for each attendance center.  The performance grade may also be used as one measure to rank and classify schools into six performance categories.  Other academic indicators shall include graduation rates, attendance rates, and college-readiness rates and may include post-graduation data, suspension and expulsion rates, levels of student engagement, parent satisfaction, parent engagement, and staff working conditions.  DE findings and recommendations due July 1, 2014.

Division VIII: Competency-based Instruction Task Force.  Establishes a competency-based education grant program to award grants to not more than ten school districts annually for developing, implementing, and evaluating competency-based education pilot and demonstration projects.  Final report including any recommendations due by January 15, 2019.

Division IX: Instructional Hours.  School calendars shall include not less than 180 days or 1080 hours of instruction.

Division X: Private Instruction Exemption.  Reporting requirements made optional for persons providing private instruction under section 299A.3 Private instruction by nonlicensed person.

Division XI: Independent Accreditation of Nonpublic Schools.  Permitting nonpublic schools to be accredited by approved independent accrediting agencies instead of the state board.

Division XII: Independent Private Instruction.  Establishes independent private instruction defined as not accredited, enrolling not more than four unrelated students, not charging tuition or fees, providing private or religious-based instruction, providing instruction in mathematics, reading and language arts, science, and social studies.

Division XIII: Driver Education By Teaching Parent.  Allows home school parents to provide driver education instruction to their home schooled children if they meet certain requirements but without being required to meet physical classroom requirements and extra vehicle safety equipment requirements.

Division XIV: Miscellaneous Provisions.  Directs the director to develop and implement a coaching and support system for teachers aligned with the framework and approved comparable systems and a coaching and support system for administrators.  Establishing approved uses of preschool foundation aid funding.  Iowa Early Intervention Block Grant Program repeal date extended five years to July 1, 2018.  Making preschool and kindergarten assessment changes.

Establishing a school district reporting requirement task force to review a list of reports school districts are required to submit to the DE and to produce written justification for continuing, modifying, or eliminating the requirement.  Report due by December 2, 2013.  State board to review the written justifications and submit findings and recommendations by February 3, 2014.

Directing the DE to develop a proposed model for an extended learning time pilot project, due December 16, 2013.

Time in School 3

The Iowa Department of Education has pre-filed a bill to change the minimum school year from 180 days (at 5.5 hours of instructional time per day or 990 hours) to 1080 hours of instructional time.  [Note that this works out to 180 days at six hours of instruction per day or an additional sixteen days of school at 5.5 hours of instruction per day.]

The bill would also redefine instructional time to exclude parent-teacher conferences.

Senator Johnson (R-Osceola) has also pre-filed a bill to create parent empowerment petitions to allow fifty percent of parents at certain schools to ask the district to implement one of four school intervention models: turnaround, charter, closure, or transformation.