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About the Iowa Department of Education

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Through leadership and service to the state education system, the Iowa Department of Education (Department) works to ensure all learners are prepared for their future at every step of their educational journey. The Department provides oversight to the state education system that includes PK-12 public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies, community colleges, and teacher preparation programs. Under the leadership of the Iowa Department of Education Director and in partnership with the State Board of Education, Department team members, in collaboration with a wide range of community partners, support schools and districts as they prepare students for college and career training and ensure they receive the support needed to succeed.

Vision and Mission


Iowa learners experience high levels of success and develop the capacity to continually grow as successful, healthy, and productive citizens in a global community.


Creating excellence in education through leadership and service.

Organization and Structure

The Department employs approximately 220. While the state libraries, vocational rehabilitation, and public television are affiliated with the Department, they operate as independent entities with independent boards.

Director of the Iowa Department of Education

The Department director is appointed by the Governor to serve a four-year term, subject to confirmation by the Iowa Senate. The director's role is to provide leadership for the department as it carries out the policies and programs prescribed by state law and the State Board of Education; and to ensure department personnel are providing the necessary oversight and support for all schools, educators and students to meet their academic goals. The department director also serves as the executive officer of the State Board of Education, a nonvoting role.

"Director Chad Aldis"Director Chad Aldis

Governor Reynolds has appointed Chad Aldis, a native Iowan and former student of Camanche, East Central (now Easton Valley), and Clinton Community School Districts, to lead the Iowa Department of Education as director

For the last 20 years, Aldis’s career has been focused on education reform. His experience encompasses education policy, advocacy, and research, and spans multiple states. Most recently vice president for Ohio policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Aldis led the organization’s efforts to successfully reform Ohio’s high school graduation requirements, state report cards and charter school laws. He partnered regularly with the governor’s office, legislators, and the department of education to strengthen state policy on literacy, school funding, and private school choice.

A fourth-generation Iowan, Aldis was born and raised in eastern Iowa, graduated from Clinton High School in 1990, and was named to the Des Moines Register’s First Team Academic All State. He began his college career at the University of Northern Iowa before transferring to the University of Mississippi where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He also holds a law degree from Florida State University.


The Department was created by the 35th General Assembly in 1913 and was originally called the Department of Public Instruction. The current name was adopted in 1986.

In its early years, the Department was charged with working with the many small, isolated school buildings to build a formal system of public education that included organized districts with defined duties and boundaries, as well as specific qualifications for teachers. While the state department was established to provide oversight, local schools maintained the authority to set many of the rules and requirements for their own students. This system of "local responsibility" - based on the belief that local residents have the greatest interest in assuring their children's success - continues today. As Iowa progressed over the decades with greater diversity in business, industry, and population, the public education system evolved to reflect and encompass those changes. In the mid 1960s, a system of 15 public, two-year community colleges was established to provide more students the opportunity for continued education and training beyond high school. In the mid-1970s, the system of AEAs was developed to provide regional support for local schools and their teachers. Originally, the community colleges and the AEAs shared the same service area boundaries. In recent years, several AEAs have merged to provide greater efficiency in regions with declining populations.

Related story: A walk through Iowa’s one-room schoolhouses

Iowa Education System