Public input sought on Every Student Succeeds Act

image003Iowa Department of Education leaders will hit the road this fall as part of a statewide tour to gather public input as they develop a plan to meet the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ESSA, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and will be fully implemented starting in the 2017-18 school year, provides a more reasonable balance between the role of states and the federal government in accountability for the success of all children. Under the reauthorized law, the federal government sets expectations, and states determine how schools will reach them.

Nine public input meetings will be held across Iowa from September through November. Each meeting will open with an overview of ESSA and the Department’s goals for developing the state plan.

“We all have a stake in the success of our students and schools, and engaging Iowans will be key to successful implementation of ESSA,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Our goal is to build a system of accountability and support that drives student achievement and makes sense for Iowa. These public input meetings are one important way the Department is listening to what Iowans think student success should look like.”

The Department is also engaging education stakeholders in following ways:

  • Facilitating a state advisory committee representing the K-12 education system and parents. The ESSA Advisory Committee will provide input on pieces of Iowa’s ESSA plan.
  • Consulting representatives of education associations, state legislators, the higher education community, other state agencies and the business community.
  • Incorporating stakeholders’ voices into Department-led work teams that are drafting components of the state plan.

State plans must address academic standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools. Iowa’s state plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education no later than July 2017.

All public input meetings will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Meeting dates and locations are as follows:

Monday, September 26
Meeting location:
Heartland Area Education Agency
Room 107 A/B
6500 Corporate Drive, Johnston

Tuesday, September 27
Meeting location:
Green Hills Area Education Agency
Halverson Center for Education
24997 Highway 92, Council Bluffs

Tuesday, October 11
Meeting location:
Keystone Area Education Agency
Rooms D2-D3
1400 2nd Street NW, Elkader

Thursday, October 20
Meeting location:
Northwest Area Education Agency
1520 Morningside Avenue, Sioux City

Tuesday, October 25
Meeting location:
Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency
Muscatine/Scott Rooms
729 21st Street, Bettendorf

Wednesday, October 26
Meeting location:
Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency
Rooms A, B and C
824 Flindt Drive, Suite 105, Storm Lake

Wednesday, November 2
Meeting location:
Grant Wood Area Education Agency
Winter/Spring/Autumn/Revere/Stone conference rooms
4401 6th Street SW, Cedar Rapids

Monday, November 7
Meeting location:
Great Prairie Area Education Agency
2814 N. Court Street, Ottumwa

Wednesday, November 9
Meeting location:
Area Education Agency 267
Rooms B/C
3712 Cedar Heights Drive, Cedar Falls

For more information on Iowa’s plans to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act, visit the Iowa Department of Education website.

Iowans also can submit questions and feedback by sending an email to

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AEA 267’s new Digital Citizenship website

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-12-19-01-pmAEA 267 has created a new Digital Citizenship website to help support educators with the ever-increasing challenges faced due to technology in the classroom. Creating an online presence, cyberbullying, and how to use social networking responsibly are just a few of the topics addressed.

AEA 267 consultants can help with facilitating conversations, conducting needs assessment, creating plans, and providing professional learning. For more information, contact Cari Teske, AEA 267 Integrated Learning Specialist.

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How should student performance be measured?

kidsWhether you are a parent of a student in one of Iowa’s public school districts or not, you probably remember hearing about the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. No Child Left Behind was intended to bring greater accountability for student learning but was built around the belief that labeling low performing schools and withholding their resources would motivate them to improve their future performance.

While NCLB had good intentions to raise student learning, the rigid law focused more on labeling schools than provide support and resources to hard-working educators to help students achieve at higher rates. Recently, the federal government introduced the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces NCLB and will go into effect with the 2017-18 school year. The new law keeps expectations high for schools, but provides states with more flexibility in deciding how much test scores will factor into low performance and what supports to put into place when goals are not met. This is good news for those who believe that other ways of measuring student learning, beyond just standardized tests, should also play a role in deciding if a school or school district is succeeding. It also gets away from a “shame and blame” mentality of improvement that we know doesn’t work.

In mid-August, I was appointed to a statewide advisory committee by the Iowa Department of Education, to help develop Iowa’s response to ESSA. Our task will be to advise the plan for how Iowa will meet the new requirements in a way that pairs accountability for learning with the supports needed to improve student achievement. I’m joined by other school leaders from around the state including representatives from the Iowa Association of School Boards, School Administrators of Iowa, and the Iowa State Education Association.

As a parent and/or a taxpayer I encourage you to keep an eye on this work. Later this fall, the Iowa Department of Education will announce opportunities for parents and other education stakeholders to have their voices heard regarding how to measure the success of Iowa’s students under ESSA. Those school districts that I work with on a daily basis are working harder than ever at a time when state resources are extremely limited. They welcome your informed input on how they are doing and invite you to be part of the process.

Sam Miller, AEA 267 Chief Administrator

Sam Miller, AEA 267 Chief Administrator

Sam Miller is the Chief Administrator of Area Education Agency 267, which serves over 62,000 students in school districts representing 18 counties in north central and eastern Iowa. He can be reached at

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AEA 267’s Melissa Ford recognized as School Social Worker of the Year

Melissa Ford, AEA 267 School Social Worker

Melissa Ford, AEA 267 School Social Worker

Melissa Ford, AEA 267 School Social Worker was selected by the Iowa School Social Workers Association (ISSWA) as the 2016 Iowa School Social Worker of the Year.  Melissa will be honored at the annual ISSWA Conference in Des Moines on November 11. She will also be recognized at the Midwest School Social Work Conference in Chicago on October 27.

Melissa has been with AEA 267 since 2008 and serves in the Grinnell Community School District. Nominated by several staff members at Grinnell High School, the nomination letters highlighted her work there and in the community with the Poweshiek County Dental Coalition.

Heidi Durbin, Dean of Students at Grinnell CSD summed up the reasons why she recommended Melissa for this prestigious award: “In addition to all the day-to-day responsibilities Melissa performs, it is her willingness to jump in and make things happen and her wealth of knowledge about school and community resources that is unparalleled and makes her most deserving of this award.”

Please join us in congratulating Melissa on this well-deserved honor!

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Sign up for the new Iowa School Alert system

Effective June 30, Iowa School Alerts is changing. In order to continue receiving valuable alerts regarding AEA 267 office closures, you will need to re-subscribe. Keep in mind that although it is a different system, it is still called Iowa School Alerts.

Simply visit the Iowa School Alerts website to subscribe. You may choose email or text alerts from the drop-down menu; however, please note that in order to receive both, you must go in and subscribe separately for each preference.

The agency will continue to post office closures to the front page of our website and also using our alerts line at 866-923-1089, but it is important that you re-subscribe to the new system to receive an alert by email or text message.

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