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July 2016 School Leader Update (TEST PAGE)

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The power of summer professional learning

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise

Anyone who thinks educators take the summer “off” clearly has not met an Iowa teacher or administrator. While the pace and schedule shift, the intensity and focus remain. Iowa’s teachers and school leaders use their summers to network, plan, and improve.

In one week in June I attended the Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance annual meeting; the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education Summit; the Iowa Catholic School Administrators Conference; and the Iowa Science Standards Summer Institute for high school teachers. While the atmosphere was summer casual, participants at each event focused on learning from national experts in their field as well as from colleagues from across Iowa.

Teachers and administrators at these events were clearly passionate about their field. They used their time not only to collaborate and learn, but also to think big about goals and objectives for their profession. I gained insight about the issues that are important to their organizations.

In addition to role-alike and subject-specific networking, I’ve also observed Iowa educators collaborating across traditional lines of grades and disciplines. Benton Community School District and West Branch Community School District each hosted events focused on TLC implementation. And Des Moines Public Schools hosted a technology conference for teachers across the district.

Benton took an “ed camp” approach in which participants generated ideas for sessions at the beginning of the day and then voted with their feet by moving into rooms with topics that matched their interests. For me, this included sessions on overcoming challenges with instructional coaching at the secondary level, teacher transitions into and out of leadership roles, and integrating non-coaching roles into a local TLC plan. This “voice and choice” approach is becoming a driving force in professional development in Iowa and was on full display at the Benton Ed Camp.

Teacher leaders led the development of the TLC event in West Branch. They experienced substantial learning and growth in their first year of TLC implementation and took the initiative to share their lessons learned with districts about to enter the system.

In Des Moines, TechCon 2016 was a high-energy event (with a middle school DJ playing tunes between sessions!) designed to provide ideas and inspiration to teachers and administrators on a variety of education technology topics. I had the privilege of listening to eight “Trailblazers” describe how they personalized learning through the effective integration of technology in their classrooms.

One of the most interesting professional learning experiences I observed in June crossed not only grades and subjects but also professional sectors. For the past 10 years, Vermeer Corporation (a Pella-based, global agricultural and industrial equipment company) has hosted teachers for three-week internships. The teacher intern program models the experience we want for our students: a tangible integration of education and real-world experience. When teachers have the opportunity to see the knowledge and skills they teach in action, they gain a new level of authenticity and can speak to the application of standards they teach in a work setting. They are also positioned to speak from experience about other critical skills, like problem-solving and interpersonal communication. I visited with seven teachers who shared with me what they learned – which ranged from project planning to learning styles strategies – and how they planned to integrate these ideas into their classrooms.

Finally, for many Iowa teachers, summer doesn’t mean three months without students. In Mason City, I observed dedicated teachers working hard to meet the literacy needs of their students as part of the Iowa Reading Research Center’s Intensive Summer Reading Pilot Program. I was impressed by the level of student engagement. I had great conversations with kids about the stories they were reading, which included James Naismith’s creation of basketball and fun instructions on how to build a bird bath. If Mason City is similar to the other 40-plus districts piloting the summer reading program, I’m confident we will identify key components for the design and delivery of effective summer reading programs.

My great hope after seeing so many powerful learning opportunities in action is that teachers and school leaders will build upon these experiences as they enter the school year. We know from research that the most effective professional development is ongoing and job-embedded. I’m confident that the participants I met will find ways to ensure their summer learning was not a one-time experience, but a jumping off point for a year of learning and growth.

Licensure service streamlined for summer months

Licensure consultants at the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) will not be available to accept phone calls until after 10 a.m. during the summer months.

Receiving phone calls after 10 a.m. will allow transactions to be processed in a timely manner and will best serve Iowa educators. Hundreds of application requests are received each day in the summer, making it the busiest time for the BoEE. Your patience and understanding during this
time is appreciated.

Also be aware that the BoEE will no longer be printing and mailing licenses as of July 1. The most accurate version of any educator’s license is the website view.

For questions, contact Joanne Tubbs at

Redesigned CTE aligns education to employer demands

Governor Branstad signed into law House File 2392 which aims to raise the quality of secondary career and technical education (CTE) programs in the state and sets a new vision for high school students in Iowa to graduate college or career ready. Signed on May 26, the bill contains two divisions: Division I focuses on career and academic plans and Division II on making high quality career and technical education more accessible and equitable across the state.

The Board of Education approved rules regarding standards for career guidance systems on June 9. An application process is being developed for system vendors to seek inclusion on an approved list from which school districts may choose.

Regional listening sessions will be held starting this summer to seek input from educators and administrators in the development of the proposed rules for the career and technical education programs outlined in Division II. Status updates will be periodically provided on the Iowa Department of Education website and in future editions of the School Leader Update.

For questions or comments, contact Pradeep Kotamraju at or 515-281-4716.

Register Now for InterConNEXT 2016

Iowa Communications Network’s InterConNEXT 2016 will connect industry partners and ICN customers in showcasing the benefits of new fast, flexible ICN service offerings.

Join us for an engaging and connected experience where strong product solutions will be shared.

ICN users won’t want to miss the opportunity to receive one of 10 free cyber security consultations given away at InterConNEXT 2016.

There is no cost to attend, but space is limited. To register, click here.

Tuesday, Aug. 2; 9 to noon
FFA Enrichment Center 1055 SW Prairie Trail Parkway Ankeny, Iowa
Who Should Attend:
IT Professionals in K-12 Education or Higher Education, Healthcare, Government, Public Safety Technology Contacts, K-12 Leaders, Administrators, Principals, Higher Education Professionals, 1:1 Schools' District Representatives, Healthcare Administrators, Chief Information Officers, Telecom Partners,
Policy Leaders

Assessment field test need K-3 teachers

Kindergarten through third grade teachers and their administrators are invited to assist with a field test of learning progres-sions, addressing five domains of learning and development. The domains include physical well-being and motor development; social and emotional development; approaches toward learning; language and literacy development; and cognitive development and general knowledge.

The field test runs from fall 2016 through March 2017, and is part of a national consortium addressing kindergarten-through- third-grade formative assessment. Participating teachers will use different progressions (depending on grade level) with 10 students in their classroom. Teaching and learning can be improved using new formative assessment tools to personalize instruction for students.

Participants will receive training and ongoing support in using assessment materials, have opportunities to provide feedback, engage in conversations with other teachers, and receive incentives. To register and learn more, click here.

For questions, contact:
Jennifer Adkins at or
Kimberly Villotti at or
Colleen Anderson at

IDEA compliance determinations

The Iowa Department of Education will make annual determinations for each school district and area education agency to en-sure compliance with and implementation of IDEA Part B and Part C requirements, in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Determination letters will be emailed to district superintendents and area education agency special education directors during the month of July.

IDEA Part B Data Profiles for districts and area education agencies are available on EdInsight and redacted versions are posted to the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

IDEA Part C Data Profiles for area education agencies are also posted on the Iowa Department of Education's website.

For information about part B, contact Meredith MacQuigg at or 515-494-5610.

For information about Part C, contact Kate Small at or 515-281-5437.

Fees for Iowa Learning Online begins this fall

Iowa Learning Online (ILO) will transition to a fee-based funding model beginning this fall semester. Course fees are being implemented following the end of scale-up appropriation, 2014 curriculum expansion and unprecedented program growth. The Department of Education will charge an enrollment fee of $250 per student, per semester course.

Districts or schools will not be charged for students withdrawing from a course within the first four weeks. Billing will occur after the ILO withdrawal date each semester.

ILO continues to be a full-service online course provider. Iowa-licensed teachers utilizing core-aligned curriculum and the new Canvas course management system create a more robust and intuitive student learning experience.

Enrollment is open now for fall courses that begin Aug. 23 through Dec. 16. For more information, visit the ILO website or contact ILO Director Gwen Nagel at 515-419-3275 or

Legal Lessons

We've having a heat wave (and other legal issues)

So far this summer is shaping up to be a hot one, but I am not complaining. It’s a nice change from winter cold and spring rain. The month of June was more seasonably warm than usual. We took full advantage of the weather by cooling off in the pool and with other fun water activities. It’s a nice change of pace from working on homework.

We sent our oldest, Sophia, off to summer camp for a full week. She was more than ready to go and when we dropped her off she was ready for us to leave her there for a full week. It was so quiet with only one kiddo in the house with no one to argue with. We enjoyed having our youngest to ourselves. It is really nice to get one-on-one time with each of your kids.

When Sophia returned, she had tons of camp stories and songs to share, but only after she hung onto me for dear life when I picked her up. I think she missed us. When we got home, Liam was ready to greet his big sister with a hug and a kiss – it was so sweet – they actually do like each other. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are.

Now, in this HOT July edition of Legal Lessons, I bring you school assembly guidance, information on chronic absenteeism, and Guidance Issued on Equity for Students in Career and Technical Education.

School Assembly Guidance

Throughout the year, many schools bring in outside speakers to talk with students about various issues that impact students to include appropriate use of social media, drinking and driving, drug use, etc. While these can be great educational experiences for your student, it is also important to make sure that the provider is meeting all of your expectations. Here are guidelines for planning assemblies for your students:

  • Establish and/or revise policies/procedures for determining when and how to contract with an outside provider conducting a student assembly or activity.
  • Research your provider; a quick Google search can provide valuable information.
  • Analyze the program to assess possible violation of the district discrimination/equity policies and procedures.
  • Vet all assembly materials/handouts prior to the assembly.
  • Evaluate outcomes following any assembly to determine the effectiveness of the assembly’s desired learning.
  • Establish processes for assessment of the effect or outcome of student assemblies (e.g., surveys).
  • Ensure message is age/content appropriate.
  • If the assembly may be emotional for students, develop and implement a plan to have district counselors, trained Area Education Agency (AEA) personnel, or other trusted mental health staff available to students who need support.
  • Conduct assemblies earlier in the day to ensure students have access to staff to discuss the message and intent of the assembly prior to dismissal of the school day.
  • Clarify for all constituents (students, staff, parents, guardians, community members) the difference between after-school or evening programs and school-sponsored activities.
  • Develop goals or outcomes for school-wide assemblies. Outcomes should align with Iowa Core or American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Standards (e.g., respect alternative points of view; recognize, accept, respect and appreciate individual differences).

Chronic Absenteeism

In June, the U.S. Department of Education issued an article on chronic absenteeism. The article notes that chronic absentee-ism is missing 20 or more days of school in a typical 180-day year. It also notes that this is a problem that exists across the country. We are no stranger to this issue here in Iowa. There are a lot of issues that feed into this problem, which in turn can lead to achievement gaps, among other things. Here in Iowa, the Governor is trying to address chronic absenteeism with the appointment of a new Chronic Absenteeism Council. There will certainly be more to come on this issue so keep your eyes and ears peeled for more.

Chronic Absenteeism: The First-Order Challenge Facing Our Nation's Schools

Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds announce Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council

Guidance Issued on Equity for Students in Career and Technical Education

Also in June, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education released joint Guidance on Equity for Students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The guidance is in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter that outlines that all students, regardless of their sex or gender, must have equal access to the full range of CTE programs offered. The guidance does not add requirements to existing laws, but serves to provide information and examples to inform recipients about how the U.S. Department of Education evaluates whether entities are comply-ing with legal obligations. Here is the news release and the letter below.

News Release

Dear Colleague Letter

For more information on Title IX and other OCR guidance, check OCR’s Reading Room. For other equity issues, contact Margaret Jensen-Connet at or 515-281-3769.

Students with Disabilities

For questions regarding students with disabilities, contact Thomas Mayes at 515-242-5614 or

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on January 21, 2017 at 4:38am.