The newly-appointed director of Iowa’s Department of Education says while many Iowa students are doing well, more must be done to help lagging students. Judy Jeffrey was appointed last week to take over permanently as director of the Department of Education. She’d been acting director since August.”You know, we are the best in the nation, but for us to preserve that status, we will continue to be the best when every single student in this state is the best that they can be,” she says. Jeffrey says school systems like Iowa’s that are “already exceptional” sometimes find it more difficult to make improvements than those that are broken. Jeffrey developed the state’s annual “condition of education” and she says while there are more advanced courses offered in Iowa high schools, more are needed. In addition, Jeffrey says teacher salaries continue to lag other states, as Iowa ranks 37th among the states in teacher pay. And Jeffrey says the “achievement gaps” of students who are a minority, poor or disabled are “intolerable” for a state that prides itself on the quality of its educational system.Jeffrey says one choice is to do nothing, but “that simply is not the Iowa way.” Jeffrey began her teaching career in 1964 in Goldfield. She also taught in Cedar Falls and in Council Bluffs before becoming an administrator.
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