Topics in the Next Education Reform Plan?

While a fully fleshed out plan is likely a few months away, the Director of the Department of Education has given some insight into what is expected out of the Governor’s office for the upcoming session as it relates to education reform. It will likely be a focused bill and smaller in scope than the 136 page bill that was released to the legislature in the 2012 session.

Some of the ideas will likely make a return from earlier this year, as much of the Governor’s bill was pared down in legislative compromise sessions. But expect to find the following topics on the discussion agenda for next year:

Recruitment scholarship program
This would be a recruitment campaign and scholarship program across the state to entice top-tier students to enter the teaching profession through teacher preparation programs at Iowa colleges. The education reform discussion from the Governor’s office has always included putting the best teachers in front of students. This effort would be an attempt to bring the best students into the field from the beginning.

Define college career readiness and implement tiered diplomas
Iowa is a top contender in the nation for ACT scores, which measure college readiness, but it’s clear we still have work to do. In addition, traditional post-secondary is not the correct path for all high school graduates. A starting point the Governor has identified for making sure students are heading in the correct direction would be to first identify what the direction is by defining what college and career-readiness means.

Secondly, there’s discussion about a potential tiered diploma system, one that would gear students towards college or career. There are no details on this at the moment, so it’s hard to speculate what the program might look like. Hawaii recently moved to a tiered diploma system that is based on what courses students take in math and science. Rhode Island and Michigan, however, recently abandoned plans to move to a tiered diploma system. And New York City, who had a long-standing tiered-diploma system, recently dropped it.

Teacher leadership roles
This is a retreading of some earlier ideas from the Governor. Part of the original education reform proposal in late 2011, it was dropped from the final bill due to much skepticism and a high price tag. There is currently a task force meeting to bring forth a proposal to the legislature. It will likely contain similar elements to the Governor’s original plan, but could be quite different. The original plan involved creating 4 levels of teacher: beginning, career, mentor, and master. The mentor and master teacher would spend time coaching and working to develop other teachers, which means time out of their own classroom, but time spent with other teachers in their classrooms.

Teacher development
Finally, a teacher development will likely be a part of the plan. This would include creating professional development plans and establishing an evaluation proposal that would identify teachers in need of assistance.

Last year’s education reform plan was released in an outline form in October of 2011 and the legislative language arrived in January 2012. Expect a similar time-frame, perhaps a bit earlier due to a bill that will be smaller in scope and more focused.