Iowa Ed Reform Bill Advancing Literacy, Online Learning, and Competency-based Education

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Iowa SF 2284 emerged from conference committee in the House 87-9 and the Senate 31-15 on May 8. The bill is now awaiting delivery to Republican Gov. Terry Branstand. The bill, as passed out of conference committee, would:   

  • Allow students to earn academic credit by demonstrating proficiency in a subject rather than completing a course and create a competency-based learning task force to provide guidance to districts.

  • Require that not less than 36 hours in the school calendar, held outside of the school day, be set aside to allow practitioners to collaborate with each other to deliver successful educational programs.

  • Require districts to provide for an annual review of each teacher and administrator’s performance. The first and second year of teacher reviews would be conducted by a peer group of teachers.

  • Create a teacher evaluation task force that would develop a statewide teacher evaluation system. It would also create a teaching standards and criteria review task force and a teacher performance, compensation, and career development task force.

  • Regarding controversial efforts by two Iowa school districts to partner with private companies to offer entirely online education programs, the bill allows the partnerships to advance but only through the 2014-15 school year and caps the number of students who may participate at 18 one-hundredths of one percent of the statewide enrollment of all pupils. It would limit the number of pupils participating in open enrollment for purposes of receiving primarily online course instruction to no more than one percent of a sending district’s enrollment.

  • Require the Board of Regents to implement a continuous improvement plan for courses built on the results of the institution’s student outcomes assessment program.

  • Allow the Board of Regents to establish or contract to establish programs designed to increase college readiness and awareness in potential first-generation college students and underrepresented populations.

  • Outline new efforts schools must undertake to monitor students’ reading skills in the early grades and ensure they are making adequate progress with intensive instruction.

  • Establish the cross-agency assessment instrument planning group to study and select one standard assessment instrument for implementation by all school districts.

  • Establish the school instructional time task force to study the minimum requirements of the school day and school year.

  • Provide that districts that collaborate with a community college to provide college-level classes that are offered through a partnership with a nationally recognized provider of rigorous STEM curriculum are eligible for additional weighting.

  • Allow community colleges to require an initial assessment for student participation in concurrent enrollment for career and technical students who do not meet concurrent enrollment eligibility requirements.

Earlier versions of reform mandated end-of-course exams that would factor into high-school graduation; ACT or career-readiness testing for high-school juniors, pre-kindergarten testing; and various other tests that would have been used to measure teacher performance and compare Iowa students’ performance against students from other countries, according to the Des Moines Register. Earlier versions would have defined virtual class to include an AP course and required students to be counseled on AP and other college-level classes based on test scores.

 

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