Director Wise: ESSA is steering us forward thoughtfully
Editor’s note: Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise welcomed participants this morning attending the three-day 2019 ESSA June Institute for Schools. Below are excerpts from his welcome.
As we state in our statewide Every Student Succeeds Act plan, we have incredible strength in our system to achieve and sustain our commitment to ensuring access, equity and excellence for our students. We have established an effective infrastructure that draws upon expertise from across our state to establish research and evidence-based practices embedded in every aspect of what we do in education.
We maintain a robust development, delivery, and support system needed to increase student results by providing evidence-based professional learning to educators and leaders statewide, and today is a great example of that delivery and support system in action. This collaborative infrastructure demonstrates our collective commitment to ensuring:
- Supports for students to access and learn the Iowa Academic Standards, and thrive within an equitable and well-rounded education;
- Supports for Educators to work in systems that promote excellence in both teaching and learning; and
- Supports for Schools to have greater flexibility and positive outcomes through Iowa’s Unified Differentiated Accountability and Support System.
I’d also like to thank each of our school participants for all the hard work you’ve put in this year learning and developing your action plans. I have had the opportunity to visit two schools this spring that were designated for comprehensive support and I was incredibly impressed with both the approach and the effort they brought to the improvement process.
The Every Student Succeeds Act represents a seismic shift in the federal approach to accountability and support for schools. We have already started to see the benefits of the increased flexibility afforded to states, giving schools the opportunity to develop high-quality plans that will meet their unique needs.
What I most appreciate about ESSA is that it empowers us as a state to build upon the accomplishments of the last seven years. As a state education system, we have:
- Developed a comprehensive early literacy initiative to ensure all students read proficiently by the end of third grade.
- Created a statewide teacher leadership system that elevates the teaching profession and taps the expertise of teachers to improve classroom instruction and improve student achievement.
- Implemented an ongoing review of Iowa’s academic standards to ensure Iowans have input into what students should know and be able to do as they progress toward graduation.
- Launched the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which will build Iowa’s talent pipeline by ensuring citizens have access to education and training required for productive jobs and careers both now and in the future.
- Revitalized Career and Technical Education to ensure equitable access to high-quality programs as well as work-based learning opportunities.
- Focused on increasing interest and achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.
- Redesigned Iowa’s school accountability system to provide support to schools where and when they most need it.
What also hasn’t changed is our unrelenting focus on ensuring we meet the needs of all students. As Director of the Department of Education, I see a key part of my role as shining a light on our vision that ALL learners in Iowa are safe, healthy, engaged, and prepared.