IOWA: “Does your student want to serve on the Board of Education?”

IOWA: “Does your student want to serve on the Board of Education?”

Applications are being accepted for the student member of the Iowa State Board of Education.

Each year the Governor appoints a student to serve as a nonvoting member of the State Board of Education. The term of the student member starts May 1, 2018, and ends April 30, 2019. The State Board meets at least seven times during that term, with most meetings taking place in the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines. The deadline for submitting an application with all required documents is Feb. 1.

Besides being a full-time, regularly enrolled 10th or 11th grade student in a public high school, the student must meet these requirements:

  • Has a GPA of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale) or 3.75 (5.0 scale).
  • Has attended his/her present high school at least the past two consecutive semesters (or the equivalent thereof).
  • Demonstrates participation in extracurricular and community activities, as well as an interest in serving on the board.

The number of applicants in a year from any one district is limited as follows:

  • If district enrollment for grades 10 through 12 is less than 400 students, there may be no more than one applicant from the district.
  • If district enrollment for grades 10 through 12 is from 400 to 1,199 students, there may be no more than two applicants from the district.
  • If district enrollment for grades 10 through 12 is 1,200 students or more, there may be no more than three applicants from the district.

The application and supporting documents are available for the student member of the State Board of Education webpage.

IOWA: Key to successful teacher leadership is collaboration

IOWA: Key to successful teacher leadership is collaboration

A centerpiece of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) program is collaboration. One of the five state TLC goals is to promote collaboration by developing and supporting opportunities for teachers in schools and school districts statewide to learn from each other.

A common role for a teacher leader is to help create a culture to support shared leadership and collaboration.

Here are some teacher leader roles to support collaboration suggested in “10 Obstacles to Collaboration: the Role of a Teacher Leader” from k12teacherleadership, April 2016.

  • Encourage teachers to share their ideas and practices by building a relationship to decrease the teacher’s resistance to engage in collaboration.
  • Educate teachers about the advantages for collaboration and its simplicity.
  • Clearly communicate the purpose and vision of school-wide collaboration and how it promotes teacher development.
  • Support the school principal and other leaders in implementing collaboration that impacts student learning and professional practice.
  • Advocate for time, space, and resources toward collaborative efforts.
  • Embed professional learning and collaboration into daily practice.
  • Facilitate opportunities of collaboration to ensure that the experience is positive. Furthermore, collect feedback from all teachers to identify ways to continuously improve collaboration.
  • Work with teachers to develop group norms and ensure collaboration is open to diverse perspectives.

A collaborative culture is built in teachers’ willingness to share support and explore together. This type of culture will increase teacher retention, improve student learning, and improve professional learning.

For more information, contact Lora Rasey at or 515-281-6719.

Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success

Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success

Washington — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told a meeting Monday that the country needs to quit trying to push every student to attend a four-year college, and open up apprenticeships and other workplace learning experiences to more students.

“We need to stop forcing kids into believing a traditional four-year degree is the only pathway to success,” DeVos said at the first meeting of the White House Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like … we need to start treating students as individuals … not boxing them in.”

The panel, which was created through an executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, is chaired by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. DeVos and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross serve as vice-chairs. Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a White House adviser, was also on-hand…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.



Will ESSA Reduce States’ Accountability in Special Education? – Education Week

Will ESSA Reduce States’ Accountability in Special Education? – Education Week

Law gives flexibility on subgroup reports

October 24, 2017

As unpopular as No Child Left Behind was by the time it was ushered off the stage in 2015, advocates for students with disabilities could always point to one aspect of the law that they liked: by requiring that test scores of different student groups be reported separately, the law exposed the low academic performance of students in special education and required schools to do something about it.

The replacement for NCLB, the Every Student Succeeds Act, still requires that the academic performance of students with disabilities be reported, along with other student subgroups.

But the law trades federal mandates for state flexibility on what should happen to a school whose students with disabilities are consistently lagging their peers.

States and some lawmakers have cheered the end of what they call federal overreach. But some advocates worry that the accountability goals states have set for themselves won’t move the needle for a group of students who have long struggled with low achievement. At worst, they worry, states can create rules that allow the performance of students with disabilities to again be obscured by the relatively higher test scores of the general student population.

Lower Goals

“A lot of the really crucial decisionmaking got left to the states,” said Ricki Sabia, the senior policy advisor at the National Down Syndrome Congress. “Our concern was with how they would use this discretion.”

Sabia and Candace Cortiella, the founder of the Advocacy Institute, examined drafts of the accountability roadmaps developed by 37 states. All of the states have submitted ESSA plans to the U.S. Department of Education for evaluation; the department has given its stamp of approval to 14 states and the District of Columbia.

A reading of the draft plans illustrates some of Sabia’s and Cortiella’s concerns. In New Mexico’s accountability blueprint, for example, it set a goal for itself to increase the high school graduation rate of students with disabilities to 79 percent in 2022, up from 62 percent in 2016.

At the same time, however, the plan sets a goal to have 50 percent of students with disabilities scoring proficient on the state’sEnglish/language arts and math assessments by 2022. That’s an ambitious goal—less than 7 percent of New Mexican special education students meet that bar now.

But “it is difficult to understand how [students with disabilities] can be expected to graduate at a rate of 79 percent in 4 years while just 50 percent are expected to be proficient in reading and math,” Sabia and Cortiella wrote in a letter intended to support local advocates.

Plan Omissions

Another concern is that the goals for students with disabilities are too low. New York, for example, is aiming for 63 percent of its students with disabilities to graduate with a standard diploma by 2022, up from 55 percent in 2016. New York notes that its end goal for all students, including students with disabilities, is a 95 percent graduation rate. But it also proposes resetting its goals each year.

Educators didn’t like the 100-percent proficiency goal that was embedded in the old law, Sabia said. “But how do you say that some students aren’t going to be proficient? How do you say it’s OK if 5 percent or 10 percent aren’t? That’s what some of these new plans do.”

The education nonprofit Achieve, in its analysis of state plans, found that 26 states and the District of Columbia set the same long-term graduation goal for all subgroups. Twenty-four states set different end point goals for students with disabilities and other subgroups.

Others have pointed not to what’s in the state plans, but what they believe has been left out. Laura Kaloi is a government relations policy consultant with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a group that represents children in special education and their families. COPAA was looking for states to offer specific plans about how to prevent bullying and harassment, discipline that removes children from the classroom, and “aversive behavioral interventions that compromise student health and safety.”

In an examination of the state plans that were submitted this spring, she said, those topics were not addressed.

“We know many, many school districts need work in this area,” Kaloi said.

The plans are light on some details because states were not required by the law to provide them. In March, the Senate overturned some accountability guidelines that were passed during the Obama administration, saying they were too prescriptive and not keeping in the spirit of the law and its focus on state-based accountability. For example, the law requires states to identify a minimum number of students in a particular subgroup that a school would have to enroll in order for that group to be counted in school accountability, known as the N-size. Under the ESSA accountability rules that the Senate threw out, states could select any N-size but had to offer a justification if they chose a number over 30. The Education Department does not require states to provide a justification for its N-size selection.

Some states, such as Ohio, have chosen to provide such justification, however, suggesting that in some cases states are committing to a more rigorous standard.

Ohio is moving from an N-size of 30 down to 15 by the 2019-2020 school year, which means that more schools will potentially be subject to accountability measures. After the change, 86 percent of the state’s schools will have to report on the progress of the special education subgroup, compared to 58 percent that are required to do so now.

Melissa Turner, the senior manager for state policy for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said her organization is also examining the state plans, with an eye to strong accountability for student subgroups, clearly defined policies that explain how states will help struggling groups of students, and greater use of accommodations and the appropriate use of “alternate assessments.”

ESSA places a 1 percent cap on the percentage of all students who can take alternate assessments. That equates to about 10 percent of students with disabilities. Such alternate assessments are intended for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Some groups, such as NCLD, have been concerned that schools have steered students to the alternate assessments in the past, instead of providing the teaching and support that would allow students to take the same tests as their peers in general education.

Positive Implications

Turner mentioned some plans that stand out as potentially positive for students with disabilities. Iowa, for example, has organized its ESSA accountability blueprint around “multitiered systems of support,” which are intended to provide research-backed instruction for all students in academics and in social-emotional development.

Turner also singled out New Hampshire for its plans for personalized learning. “That’s something that we applaud. We think that’s a strong opportunity for states to meet the needs of all kids,” she said.

The organization is concerned, as other groups are, about different goals for different student subgroups. If the overall graduation rate goal is 95 percent, it should be the same for students with disabilities, she said.

“We’re really hoping to see that gap narrow in the long-term goals,” she said.

Inside ESSA Plans: How Do States Want to Handle Testing Opt-Outs?

Inside ESSA Plans: How Do States Want to Handle Testing Opt-Outs?

Parents who opted their children out of state exams in recent years became the focal point of major education debates in the country about the proper roles of testing, the federal government, and achievement gaps. Now, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have a chance to rethink how they handle testing opt-outs.

So how are states responding in their ESSA plans they submitted to the federal government? In short, it’s all over the place, an Education Week review of the ESSA plans shows.

Keep this in mind: ESSA requires that students who opt out of those mandatory state tests must be marked as not proficient on those tests. Those not-proficient scores will in turn, obviously, impact accountability indicators. So while some states highlight this as their approach to handling testing opt-outs, it’s really no more than what the law requires…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.


Here’s Where School Choice Bills Stand as Congress Restarts

Here’s Where School Choice Bills Stand as Congress Restarts

School choice programs the Trump administration wants in next year’s budget haven’t gotten traction, at least with House lawmakers. (We still don’t know yet how the Senate feels.) But those aren’t the only choice plans Congress has the chance to consider. So how are these doing?

We checked in on the progress of a few, relatively high-profile pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill designed to expand school choice in various ways, and to various degrees. Here’s a status report for each.

  • H.R. 610, Choice in Education Act: This bill was introduced by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in January. It would create vouchers using federal funds. It was introduced in the House education committee in January, but lawmakers haven’t acted on it since…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.

IOWA: Last chance to review state’s education improvement plan

IOWA: Last chance to review state’s education improvement plan

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise today announced that the third draft of Iowa’s state plan for meeting the federal Every Student Succeeds Act is available for public review and comment. Iowa’s plan will be finalized and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in September. ESSA is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; the update replaces the No Child Left Behind Act. “Iowa has several collaborative education improvement efforts underway, each with a goal of preparing students for success in high school and beyond, and the Every Student Succeeds Act is an opportunity to connect and build on those efforts,” Wise said. The third draft is a final opportunity for Iowans to review the plan; a snapshot can be found here.

NAACP Releases Report Criticizing Charter Schools, Generates Controversy

NAACP Releases Report Criticizing Charter Schools, Generates Controversy

Yesterday, a twelve-member task force, convened by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), released a report on “Quality Education.” The task force was formed in December 2016 after the NAACP’s October 2016 call for a national moratorium on expanding charter schools until a set of conditions were met.

The charge of the task force was to bring forward “practical recommendations that respond to the urgency of this resolution and the inequities undermining public education.” In order to fulfill their charge, from December 2016 to April 2017, the task force held public hearings in seven cities—New Haven, Memphis, Orlando, Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans, and New York.

The report acknowledged that, from testimonials at the public hearings, they found some positive aspects of charter schools. However, the report ultimately concluded that “even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education in communities that serve all children.”

Criticism of Public Hearings

According to NAACP task report report, the “hearing format [for the public meetings] ensured testimony” from all of the following stakeholders: educators, administrators, school policy experts, charter school leaders, parents, advocates, students, and community leaders. However, some have questioned the authenticity and fairness of these meetings, claiming that they did not include groups and individuals who were charter supporters.

For example, in Tennessee, members of Memphis Lift, a parent-activist organization, voiced disapproval when they were only allowed 12 minutes at the end of a four-hour meeting. Additionally, in Orlando, Minnesota education activist Rashad Anthony Turner was ushered out of the meeting by police after he interrupted a speech by Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President, because opponents of the moratorium were kept waiting.

Task Force Provides Five Recommendations Based on Public Hearings

According to the report, the testimonials illuminated the “perceived” benefits and problems with charter schools. Using those testimonials, the task force created five recommendations, summarized below, that would improve the quality of charter schools.

Recommendation #1: Provide more equitable and adequate funding for schools serving students of color. The task force argued that education funding has been “inadequate and unequal for students of color for hundreds of years.” In order to remedy the problem, the task force recommended that states should implement weighted student formula systems and model them after the systems that Massachusetts and California have pursued. They also recommended that the federal government should “fully enforce” the funding equity provisions within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Recommendation #2: Invest productively in low-performing schools and schools with significant opportunity and achievement gaps. In order to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education, the task force recommends that federal, state, and local policies need to “sufficiently” invest in three things: creating incentives to attract and retain teachers, evolving instruction to be more challenging and inclusive, and providing more wraparound services for students such as health and mental services.

Recommendation #3: Develop and enforce robust charter school accountability measures. There were five parts within this recommendation. They are as follows:

  • Create and enforce a rigorous chartering authorizing and renewal process. The task force recommends that states should only allow districts to serve as authorizers. This is significant since, of the 44 states that allow charter schools, only four—Wyoming, Virginia, Iowa, and Kansas—have district-only charter authorization.
  • Create and enforce a common accountability system.
  • Monitor and require charter schools to admit and retain all students. This recommendation calls for open enrollment procedures, and asserts that charter schools should not be allowed to counsel out, push out, or expel students that they “perceive as academically or behaviorally struggling, or whose parents cannot maintain participation requirements or monetary fees.”
  • Create and monitor transparent disciplinary guidelines that meet students’ ongoing learning needs and prevent push out. The report recommends that charter schools should be required to follow the “same state regulations regarding discipline as public schools,” and use restorative justice practices.
  • Require charter schools to hire certified teachers. Many states allow charter schools to hire uncertified teachers at higher rates than traditional public schools, however Minnesota is not one of them.

Recommendation #4: Require fiscal transparency and equity. The task force recommends that all charter schools be held to the “same level of fiscal transparency and scrutiny as other public schools.”

Recommendation #5: Eliminate for-profit charter schools. This recommendation not only states that all for-profit charter schools should be eliminated, but that all for-profit management companies that run nonprofit charter schools should be eliminated as well. Approximately 13 percent of U.S. charter schools are run by for-profit companies. Additionally, at least 15 states allow virtual schools, with many of them operated by for-profit organizations.

Report Elicits Scrutiny from Education Advocates

In response to the NAACP report, Nina Rees, CEO and President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), issued a statement where she indicated that NAPCS was glad to see the NAACP recognize the value of charter schools and agreed with them that “whoever oversees a public school should take that responsibility seriously, have the highest expectations, and hold educators in the school accountable” for educating students.

However, Rees also asserted that the NAACP’s policy resolution and report failed to “acknowledge that Black parents are demanding more and better public-school options,” citing a nationally representative survey which found that found 82 percent of Black parents favored allowing parents to choose their child’s public school.

She also cited a 2015 CREDO Urban Charter Schools Report, which found that Black public charter school students gained 36 days of learning in math and 26 in reading over their non-charter school peers.

Chris Stewart, based in Minnesota and former director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, asserted that “the NAACP has lost its way,” claiming that they have become an “unwitting tool of teacher unions” due to the union’s significant contributions to the NAACP over the years. He also claimed that the unions are “threatened by the growth and success of non-unionized charter schools.”

District-Charter Collaboration: Hope in a Time of Political Tension

The growing and contentious disagreements between education organizations and advocates regarding the merits of charter versus traditional district schools are not new and will likely continue to dominate the news cycle.

However, in recent years, a growing number of districts and charter schools have put aside their political differences and worked together in order to do what’s best for students. Our next two blog posts will examine the cities where some of those collaborative relationships are taking place, as well as provide history on district-charter collaboration in Minnesota.


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IA Dept. of Ed Seeks Public Input on ESSA Plan

IA Dept. of Ed Seeks Public Input on ESSA Plan

The Iowa Department of Education is soliciting feedback on the second draft of its plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Ryan Wise, director of the state department, said the plan is a step toward implementing ESSA that input is needed “so we land on a final plan that is right for the state.”

ESSA is a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act and is a re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the key piece of federal legislation that governs public schools.

A third draft of Iowa’s plan is anticipated in August. The new draft uses a template from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a release.

The plan must be submitted to the federal government by Sept. 18. Feedback on the draft will be taken through July 18.

Find a copy of the plan at Email comments to or by mail to Iowa Department of Education, Attn: Deputy Director David Tilly/ESSA Feedback, Grimes State Office Building, 400 East 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0146.

Source:– Assistant Managing Editor Scott Stewart 

REPORT: State Legislatures Opting in to Opting Out

REPORT: State Legislatures Opting in to Opting Out

By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee
ACT Research and Policy

Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.

When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)

Participation Rate Requirements

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.

Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.

Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.

Email for more information. © 2016 by ACT, Inc. All rights reserved. MS489

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