Category Archives: reform

Collective Bargaining

It’s been a doozy of a week for education, with Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education on Tuesday and Governor Branstad signing SF 166, setting SSA at 1.11% (with only $40 million or $73 per student of new money), on Wednesday, and now moving on to bills to change collective bargaining for public employees in Iowa (Chapter 20).

Based on my Twitter feed, the collective bargaining bills are the hot topic at legislative forums this weekend (see Twitter #saveiaworkers, #ialegis, #iaedfuture). This tweet, apparently relaying a comment made by Rep. Rogers at one of today’s forums, caught my attention.

Comments like this are hard for the audience to verify if the alleged supporters aren’t speaking publicly, but, for what it is worth, we can check lobbyist registration information on the bills.

Chapter 20 bills are HSB84, now numbered as HF291, and SF213.

The Iowa Association of School Boards is registered as undecided on HSB84, HF291, and SF213 (click these links to see all lobbyist registrations on each bill). Despite being registered on 74 other bills, School Administrators of Iowa has not registered a position on any of these three bills. The Urban Education Network of Iowa and the Rural School Advocates of Iowa are also not registered on any of the Chapter 20 bills as of today.

Added: Sweeping changes predicted for public schools if collective bargaining bill passes (Press-Citizen)

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Legislative Update 1/28

The House debated HF 80 (successor to HSB 58) setting percent growth of SSA at 1.25, and HF 81 (successor to HSB 57) setting the categorical state of percent growth 10 1.25 last night. After several hours of debate HF 80 as amended and HF 81 each passed on a vote of 56-42.

Representative Jorgensen opened the debate on HF 80 by acknowledging that our supplemental state aid money went, in part, to fund teacher leadership compensation programs instead:

I’ve heard a number of times, if we didn’t spend money on the education reform we would have more money for SSA. If we didn’t do the property tax reform we would have more money for SSA. That is true. But if you are going to succeed in any venture you must be willing to invest strategically into the future. If something is not working you must change it; if the competition is changing you must also change. Refusing to change will assure only one thing. Failure. Continuing to prioritize funding into a system that has seen declining enrollments and stagnant achievement results will result in future failure. That is why our investment with Education Reform AND property tax reform is so important. If we don’t spur economic development through improving our education system and lowering our tax rates we will only continue to see enrollment declines and stagnant achievement results. But that takes money and that–and for the short term creates hurt and sacrifice in other areas. But the future benefit is worth it.

[Note: the DE reports that statewide public school enrollment is up for the third year in a row, and expected to keep going up (page vii and page 3 of the 2014 Condition of Education Report).]

An amendment to HF 80, H-1002, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty-one co-sponsors to set SSA for FY 2016 at six percent. It failed on a vote of 43-56. An amendment to HF 81, H-1003, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty co-sponsors to set the categorical state of percent growth to six. It failed on a vote of 42-56.

Director Buck’s Tenure Starts With a Bang

I just posted a few days ago that I expected Director Buck’s tenure to be more of the same, largely continuing in the same vein as Director Glass.  So, I’m a little surprised that he chose to get started with a controversial appointment, appointing StudentsFirst Iowa State Director Patty Link to the Council on Educator Development.

The Council on Educator Development was created in Division VI of HF 215, the major education reform bill from the 2013 legislative session.  From this blog’s coverage:

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.

Patty Link is described as serving as the parent representative on the Council.  However, Patty Link is also registered as a lobbyist for StudentsFirst since June 13, 2013.  (What’s with the California address and phone number–doesn’t she live in the Des Moines area?)  So, it is completely unsurprising that objections are being raised about her appointment.

Why does it matter?  So far, efforts to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores have been successfully resisted in Iowa.  There have been good questions raised about the validity and appropriateness of using student test scores for that purpose.  But here’s the StudentsFirst view on the matter:

StudentsFirst has consistently called on states to require meaningful teacher and principal evaluations based on multiple measures that are focused on student outcomes.

HT: Scott McLeod.  He has more on this over at Dangerously Irrelevant.

Flying Under the StudentsFirst Radar?

I came across a link to a relatively new Iowa education blog today in my Twitterfeed: The Iowa School Bell.

Despite all the local interest in the upcoming school election, it seems our facilities planning and school closure drama have failed to garner any interest from Iowa StudentsFirst.

That may not be the case in other parts of the state.  The Iowa School Bell reports that Iowa StudentsFirst may have taken an interest in the Des Moines school election.

HF 215 Signed

Governor Branstad signed HF 215 today.  From the press release:

“The 2013 education reform bill promises to provide all Iowa schools with the support they need to significantly raise student achievement,” said Branstad. “Change is never easy. But it was particularly painful that we had to acknowledge that Iowa slipped over the past two decades from a national leader in education to the middle of the pack.”

Radio Iowa has coverage of the signing, including audio of the signing ceremony.

The Gazette has coverage of the event here, and the DE here.

And just for fun, a post from Iowa .Gif-t Shop, and one from Scott McLeod: what were they thinking at the signing ceremony?

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.