Only a week into the 2013 legislative session, Gov. Branstad's proposed bill to reform Iowa's education system is already generating discussion. In the 157-page bill, Branstad focuses on changing four key areas of the education system: teacher compensation and career development, recruitment of educated professionals to become teachers, the "college and career ready" seal and online learning opportunities.
In 2012, Iowa became the first state in the nation to be rejected for a No Child Left Behind waiver application because, state-wide, the educator evaluations did not meet the required standards.
In updating the evaluations, Branstad hopes to address the eight standards of teaching that have been in place for the past 11 years. These standards are:
- Demonstrates ability to enhance academic performance and support for and implementation of the school district's student goals.
- Demonstrates competence in content knowledge appropriate to the teaching position.
- Demonstrates competence and preparing for instruction.
- Uses strategies to deliver instruction that meets the multiple learning needs of students.
- Uses a variety of methods to monitor student learning.
- Demonstrates competence in classroom management.
- Engages in professional growth.
- Fulfills professional responsibilities established by the school district.
In addition, the bill would allow the Department of Education to develop a framework that evaluates teacher performance on three levels including classroom observation, the teacher's progress and implementation of the teacher's own professional plan.
While the first year of this component, scheduled for Fiscal Year 2014, would only cost $500,000, each concurrent year would cost $3.5 million.
The Iowa Senate discussed allowable growth in its education budget committee Thursday afternoon. The Senate tweeted the discussion live.
"The delay is hurting our local school districts," said Sen. Daryl Beall (R- Fort Dodge). "(Allowable growth) is clearly needed now."
In the last three years, the combined total amount of allowable growth given was 4 percent, the lowest in the 40-year history of allowable growth.
"When we seek to recruit more young teachers, zero percent will scare those teachers off," said Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames).
"We probably won't agree on a number," said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak). "However, there's no argument from either party that we need to pass something on allowable growth."
At the end of discussion, Senate Democrats proposed an allowable growth of 4 percent. Every democrat voted "yes", and every republican voted "no." The 4 percent allowable growth passed the Senate with nine votes "yes" and 23 six "no."