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The History of the Iowa Academic Standards


Model Core

The Iowa Core began with a legislative effort to set consistent expectations for high schools across the state. In 2005, the state legislature passed Senate File 245, which required the Department of Education to develop a set of expectations for high school students. The Department convened work teams of Area Education Agency consultants, Department content consultants, district curriculum directors, and teachers to identify the essential concepts and skills in the content areas of Literacy, Mathematics and Science. (For more information, see May 2006 Model Core Curriculum for Iowa High Schools Report to the State Board). Two years later, additional legislation was passed (Senate File 588 ) that extended the work to include kindergarten through eighth grade and added the content areas of social studies and 21st Century skills. (See April 2008 Iowa Core Curriculum Report to the State Board (2008-04-04))

Iowa Core

In 2008, the governor signed Senate File 2216 into law, which required full implementation of the Iowa Core by all public and accredited nonpublic schools. (See February 2009 Iowa Core Curriculum Report to the State Board (2009-02-11))

As Iowa worked to develop and implement the Iowa Core, a group of states, led by their education chiefs and governors, joined to develop a set of common standards in English/language arts and mathematics. These standards, called the Common Core State Standards, were designed with three principles in mind: the standards had to be based on evidence of college and career readiness, they had to have a focus to give teachers the time to teach and students the time to learn, and they had to maintain local flexibility and teacher judgment.

Drafts of the standards were released in November 2009 and a final draft was issued in June 2010.

In the spring of 2010, the Iowa State Board of Education began studying the Common Core State Standards. The State Board discovered much common ground and few differences between the Common Core standards and the Iowa Core in literacy and mathematics. Also, it had become clear there would be more resources developed and available to support teachers in implementing the Common Core State Standards. As a result, the State Board adopted the Common Core, which, with some information added specifically about essential concepts and skills, became the new content of the Iowa Core in literacy and mathematics.

Executive Order 83. In 2014, the governor penned Executive Order 83, which requires the Department to establish a cycle of review for the standards that must include public comment. The intent of this order was to ensure that Iowans, not the federal government, determine the content of Iowa’s standards. This also gives the Department authority to revise the standards to ensure they best meet the learning needs of Iowa’s students.

The first set of standards reviewed and revised was the Science Standards. In 2013, a team of science stakeholders was convened to determine if the set adopted by the State Board in 2007–2008 still met the needs of Iowa’s learning. The answer was a resounding “no,” and the group went on to endorse the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for adoption by Iowa. The State Board made it official, adopting the NGSS and making them the Iowa Core Standards in Science in 2015.

Since 2015, the Department has used this process to review and revise the Iowa Academic Standards. The intent of these reviews has been to provide Iowa teachers and students with high-quality comprehensive standards in each content area.