Iowa aims to make sure students are ‘future ready’
I am inspired by the Iowa Department of Education’s vision: Iowa learners experience high levels of success and develop the capacity to continually grow as successful, healthy, and productive citizens in a global community. I am also encouraged by the many statewide initiatives, brought to life at the school-level, which will ensure this vision is realized. From early literacy to teacher leadership to high-quality career and technical education, Iowa’s education system is focused on the right efforts.
As we continue to implement these initiatives, educators are also eager to continue to develop their own learning and to provide additional opportunities to students. In this spirit, Governor Reynolds is holding the 2018 Future Ready Iowa Summit on April 3 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This event creates the opportunity for educators, business leaders, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and students to collaborate on how we can continue to strengthen Iowa’s education and workforce. In particular, the event will focus on expanding work-based learning and computer science instruction. I hope you will consider participating in this important event.
In addition to the upcoming Summit, other important efforts are under way to ensure Iowa students are future ready. On Jan. 29, Governor Reynolds signed Executive Order 1, establishing the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning. The Clearinghouse will be a joint project between the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEA) Learning Online. The Clearinghouse will facilitate distance K-12 school-business partnerships and create an inventory of established and newly created work-based learning opportunities.
I’m enthusiastic about the Clearinghouse, which will be developed this coming year and officially launch in the summer of 2019, because it will ensure greater equity in access to high-quality work-based learning experiences for all Iowa students. In addition, the Clearinghouse builds upon a strong foundation. This project is a direct outcome of the Future Ready Iowa recommendations and is positioned to leverage existing approaches and projects developed through the work-based learning intermediary networks and STEM BEST.
While Iowa grows work-based learning opportunities, the state continues to advance efforts to expand access to computer science education. In January, I had the pleasure of convening the Computer Science Standards Review Team. This team, which includes both educators and computer science professionals, will seek public feedback and ultimately offer recommended standards to the State Board of Education for consideration this summer. Stay tuned for opportunities to contribute to this important conversation.
Finally, as we continue to develop high-impact work-based learning and computer science opportunities for our students, we must also be mindful of their social and emotional developmental needs. Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a national conference on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). While sometimes tagged as “soft” skills, I find it increasingly apparent how critical it is that our schools take a “whole-child” approach to education. The SEL Competencies shared at the conference focus on ideas like self-awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision-making that will ensure our students are truly future ready.
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