Senate Education Reform Overview

Overview: Senate Education Reform

The #1 education goal for Senate Democrats during the 2013 session is to continue efforts to increase student achievement, boost teacher quality and develop innovative education reforms.


Key Points

Teacher compensation and career pathways

After the broad education reforms he proposed last year were essentially killed by the Republican Iowa House, this year Governor Branstad’s proposals are mostly limited to on raising teacher pay and creating career pathways to encourage high quality teaching and teacher leaders.  House Republicans have responded by cutting the starting salary, cutting the funding to implement the Governor’s reforms and making them optional.

The Senate Democratic reform proposal is more supportive of Governor Branstad’s ideas.  It supports his call for a minimum starting teacher salary of $35K and REQUIRES all districts to implement a plan to reward great teachers and teacher leaders.  First year teachers begin with a residency year during which they teach 75% of the time and working closely with a teacher mentor during 25% of their time.

The Senate Democratic proposal is different than the Governor in that it offers districts more than a one size fits all approach.  Innovative districts can even create their own model, subject to review.

Funding is another key difference between the Senate Democrats and the Governor.   The Governor calls for a total investment of $145 million when fully implemented in 2017.   That means 215 school districts would receive less additional money than required to implement all aspects of his plan.

The Senate Democratic plan invests an estimated $190 million ($400 per pupil) for teacher compensation and career pathways, $45 million more than governor. Under the Senate Democratic plan, all districts will receive funding to raise minimum teacher salaries to $35,000. The rest of the funding would be used to develop teacher career pathways that fit their local districts.

Senate Democratic Education Reforms not included in either the Governor or Iowa House approaches

The Senate Democrats Education Budget provides $12 million for the first time so local school districts can implement last year’s education reforms around improved reading assistance for our youngest students.  In addition, the Senate continues the class size reduction effort for K-3 students—a key time for learning to read—which is worth $30 million to local schools.  The Governor and House Republicans both failed to fund last year’s reform and to continue the class size reduction funding.

Schools in need of assistance poverty grant.  Low achievement and high poverty schools can apply for state grants for additional funding for each student on free and reduced lunch.  These funds can be used for longer school days, extended school calendar, summer school, and expanded reading and math help.

Four percent allowable growth for FY14 and FY15.




Division I – Instructional Hours

  • Moves from days to hours requirement.


Division II – Iowa Learning Online

  • Iowa Learning Online provides online instruction with Iowa licensed instructors in various academic subjects including those that are hard to fill.  Currently funded with E-Rate federal funds, the program reaches 1,000 students per year.  The proposal is aimed to transition ILO to be self-funded with fees after the third year $1.5 million appropriations.  The department estimates that the proposal will provide services to 2,500 students.


Division III – Training and Employment of Teachers

  • Online State Job Posting System -makes the process for applying for teaching positions more efficient.
  • Teach Iowa Scholar Program
  • Allows both Iowa residents and nonresidents to apply
  • Criteria established by commission includes:
    • Top 25% of their teacher prep program
    • Teacher in high needs/high need geographical areas
    • $4,000 per year grant, not to exceed $20,000


Division IV – Teacher and Administrator Matters

  • Director of DE establish administrator standards (with significant input from administrators)
  • Director develops a coaching and support system for teachers per 284.15, if enacted.  284.15 is comparable systems of career paths and compensation.
  • Local School Boards – Provides for peer reviews of administrators (Amendment Strikes)
  • Peer Review for Teachers – Bill clarifies peer review process/procedures


Division V – Iowa Teacher Career and Compensation Matters

  • Establishes the Teacher Leadership Supplement (Amendment makes funding changes)
  • Amends current code on teacher evaluation – keeps Iowa Teaching Standards and adds career teacher specific standards and criteria
  • Strikes PD goal of adding other day and replaces with goal to implement the PD and leadership roles provided for in this bill.  (same/similar to Gov and House)
  • By 2016 – All school districts shall adopt a model of teacher compensation and career pathways.
  • Schools can choose one of four models, but every model must include key principles found in 284.15 (a):
    • Framework model (Gov’s model)
    • Career Ladder (existing 284.7 with some expansion of teacher levels)
    • Instructional Coaches model
    • Comparable Model – local district developed model meeting minimum requirements
  • Under our plan – districts will get $400/per pupil, which is enough funding for every district to make priority to raise minimum salaries to $35,000 to attract the best and brightest to the field of teaching.
  • Districts shall then adopt a career pathway model; to the extent funds are provided.  No unfunded mandate.
  • Key components of models that are developed and outlined in legislation may include:
  • Initial Teacher/First Year Only – $35,000
    • Includes a residency year for their first year of teaching (75% teach/25% observation/mentoring)
    • Beginning Teacher – $35,000 (was $28K)
    • Career Teacher – $37,000 (was $30K)
    • Career II (new) – $42,000 (was “a goal of at least $5,000 over Career Teacher” – never funded)
      • Additional 5 days
      • 25% of time spent on non-instructional duties (spells out duties)
      • If engages in peer coaching – then $8,000 stipend (under a comparable model proposal)
      • Advanced Teacher – $50,500 (was “at least $13,000” over Career Teacher – never funded)
        • DE make recommendation to GA by 2015 on district to district recognition for advanced teachers and how to teachers transition to the advanced level.
        • Additional 10 days.
        • 50% of time on non-instruction (spells out duties)
        • Peer Coaching comparable model available here
  • State Supplemental Assistance for Teachers in High-Needs Schools (Gov’s language)
  • DE shall establish a criteria and a list of high=need schools.  Factors shall include socioeconomic status of students, percentage of ELL, student academic growth, number of staff attrition, geographic balance.
  • Teachers of all subjects are eligible for assistance if they are in a designated school.
    • All districts that have an approved plan by January 1, 2014, shall be funded (generate funding through the per pupil formula – tell the Legislature how much it’s going to cost for FY15 – and then each additional year DE will tell us how much more it will cost based on the number of new applications approved).  Must seek approval from DE/Compensation Leadership Council.
    • All districts must adopt a model by July 1, 2016 (284.7 is not a default model).    They can submit plan for early adoption before that.
    • Also – need to make clear that districts are only required to do as much as they get state funding for…meaning that they should propose a model they can afford.  First priority is raising minimum salaries to $35,000 – after that – with whatever money you have left over – do as much as you can to meet the basic goals of 284.15 sub a.
      • Per pupil funding will be set at $400 per pupil (Gov’s was $305)


Division VI – Miscellaneous Provisions

  • Reading Research Center – establish in collaboration with state board of regents
  • Reading Center submits annual reports to GA regarding PreK-3 reading work, PD of reading and Prek-3 teachers, assessment tools, resources and information to promote literacy
  • Competency Based Education – subject to appropriation
  • Support for up to 10 districts to support competency-based pathways statewide as we develop competencies, assessments, and professional development to take to scale.
    • Schools in need of assistance poverty grant program (256.27)
    • Subject to appropriation, pilot projects to target low proficiency in reading and math
      • World Language Pilot – exemplify best practices for world class foreign language delivery models
      • Subject to sufficient funds appropriation – Administer with UNI and up to three school districts
        • Preschool Language Expansion
        • Allows preschool funding to be used by community providers for some small expanded uses such as instructional equipment, material and motor skill development equipment.  Also tells districts to use unexpended funds to build capacity in the following year.
          • BOEE cannot issue alternative licensure to new groups of folks, unless Legislature approves.  This section is effective upon enactment.
          • Tobacco/Nicotine Free bill language
          • Early Childhood, Preschool/Kindergarten Assessment Fixes
          • Requires Gold Assessments for preschool and kindergarten.  Makes consistent and comparable.  DE was suggesting two different assessments which is not supported by early childhood field/folks or schools.
            • Early Intervention/Class Size Reduction – maintains program.
            • School Year-Long Student Teaching Field Experience Study (not pilot program)


DIVISON VII – State School Foundation Program (Allowable Growth)

  • FY 14 and FY15 at 4 percent for both regular and categorical allowable growth.


Posted Mar. 7th, 2013 at 2:34 pm by