Keeping an eye on the (impressive) big picture
The year’s end provides us time to rest, reflect and plan for the year ahead. With so much going on in the day-to-day bustle of the school year, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
As I reflect on all we do as an education system, I see a clear vision for Iowa: Every learner will be safe, healthy, engaged and prepared. Looking back, I’m encouraged by the strides we’ve made toward this vision:
- Iowa’s education system renewed its focus on school safety.
- Iowa received a new federal grant to help schools prevent and respond to acts of violence.
- The Iowa Department of Education convened a new team to review and recommend statewide standards for physical education and health
- Iowa formed a new Children’s Mental Health System State Board to better address the growing mental health needs of young people across the state.
- The Iowa Department of Education partnered with several state and community partners to support the roll out of the 5-2-1-0 framework, which includes daily goals of five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks.
- The Iowa Department of Education, Iowa’s Area Education Agencies and school districts released a new digital learning plan by bringing together the best practices from around the state.
- Teachers across Iowa continue to focus on ensuring their courses and curriculum are relevant and engaging for all students with innovative approaches like career academies.
- Iowa implemented a student survey, Conditions for Learning, to include student voice in school improvement and to focus on the climate and culture of schools.
- Two new reports showed that Iowa’s teacher leadership program is making an impact on student achievement.
- Iowa has made progress three years in a row in early literacy, as measured by the percentage of K-3 students who met benchmarks on screening assessments.
- The state has made huge strides in computer science education, including adopting new computer science standards, awarding $1 million in funding to build the computer science teacher workforce, and announcing the Computer Science is Elementary project, which will launch six innovative computer science elementary schools.
- Communities across the state hosted Future Ready Iowa Regional Summits to design regional approaches to meet Future Ready Iowa’s goal for 70 percent of its workforce to achieve education or training beyond high school by 2025.
- Iowa continued to lead the nation in high school graduation rate.
- Iowa improved its early learning standards
- A new state assessment will better measure progress on Iowa’s Academic Standards.
- Iowa developed a new system for school accountability and support that meets the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
- A new state seal of biliteracy became available for schools to recognize students who demonstrate proficiency in two or more world languages.
- Iowa teams released recommendations on reducing the need for remedial, or developmental coursework and a new report showed fewer Iowa high school graduates are taking remedial coursework during their first year at Iowa’s community colleges and state universities.
- Work-based learning continues to expand in Iowa, including the development of the Work-Based Learning Virtual Clearinghouse.
- A report showed significant growth in college-credit courses for high school students.
- Iowa College Aid has designed the College and Career Readiness Academy to improve effectiveness in preparing all students for education and training beyond high school.
- School districts showed positive growth through the state’s Differentiated Accountability system, through which schools receive support when and where they need it most.
I look forward to the year ahead and to working collaboratively to move Iowa closer to this vision of safe, healthy, engaged and prepared learners. I wish all of you a very happy holiday season. Thank you for all you do!
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