World-Class Education for Iowa’s Children


This week the Iowa House debated education reform. Iowans expect and deserve a world-class education for their children and the current system is not living up to their standards. This is the first step in a process of achieving true reform for Iowa’s students and families.

Over the past ten years, Iowa’s test scores in reading and math have fallen while other states have risen. From 1992 to 2009, Iowa’s eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scores fell from the top in the nation to average. Additionally, the achievement gap between Iowa students with and without disabilities on the 2009 NAEP is the worst in the nation. Despite Iowa’s above-average scores on the ACT college entrance exam, the percentage of test-takers who met all four ACT benchmarks showing they are ready for college was 30 percent in 2010.

Recent polls have indicated that Iowans demand and support education reform.

By investing in the education of Iowa’s children we are investing in the future of our workforce. During Governor Culver’s last term, the state was spending on education was $2.446 billion ($5,883 per student). In the two years since the House has been controlled by Republicans, we are now spending $2.659 billion ($6,001 per student). This is an increase of $213 million.

We must bring more accountability of taxpayer dollars to parents and taxpayers to ensure each dollar is going directly to Iowa students.

We must ensure Iowa students not only have basic education skills such as math and reading, but that they also have the advanced skills to compete in a globally-competitive economy. To that end, the House bill focused on key principles in reforming Iowa’s education system. They include:
–Providing a path to allow for competency-based learning programs where students progress at their own pace,
meeting proficiency when they are ready.
–Stronger assessments for student achievement, including creating value-added measurements to track a student’s
growth and progress, not just focusing on where they are at any one particular point in time.
–Providing more support to teachers by freeing principles to lead with school administration managers and allowing
principals to annually evaluate teachers, giving them greater support to improve.
–Ensuring high-quality teachers
–Bringing additional innovation to the classroom and the district

This bill was constructed with ideas from both political parties and several Democrat amendments were adopted on the House floor. While some representatives may have different opinions on exactly how we get there, one thing is clear – all members of the House want Iowa students to reach their maximum potential. I believe this legislation will do just that.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (515) 281-3521 or kraig.paulsen@ielegis.state.ia.us

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