The Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce has boiled down its discussions on improving Iowa’s education system into recommendations for the Iowa Legislature. Former U-N-I president, Robert Koob, is co-chair of the bipartisan group, which began discussion Tuesday with six main points and ended up with three.

Koob says the group thinks they need to adopt statewide standards that align the curriculum with where the nation’s going and the world economy is going. He says they also believe there needs to be a measure of the standards. Koob says the group believes Iowa teachers need to be paid more.

Koob says in order to rectify the pay issue, they propose raising the base pay of teachers and implementing a career ladder that allows teachers to progress according to their own ability. Koob says the third point calls for adding some “delivery standards” so the curriculum is effective as it can be. Koob says the I-T-W’s teacher pay play is linked to performance, but realizes teachers have a variety of tasks they are required to do.

Koob says the big objection to teacher pay for performance “schemes” in the past is that they were tied to one thing — test scores. Koob says their plan has several measures for determining success, such as how they’re perceived by the students, and how they’re perceived by the community. The pay plan would include the career ladder that starts all teachers at a minimum salary of 32-thousand dollars, with teachers in “hard-to-staff” schools at 35-thousand dollars. Teacher pay would increase on each step of the ladder based on experience. Other pay increases would be based on various performance objectives.

Koob says their overall district “delivery standard” does away with the idea that says a district has to have a minimum number of students. Koob says they can’t come up with any strong evidence that says size is a primary criteria for determining the performance of a district. Although he says they know that some small and some large districts do not perform as well as others. So, Koob says they want to use performance instead of arbitrary size limits to determine if a district continues.

Koob say the group decided not to keep an earlier recommendation that the state look to expand pre-school so all kids can attend. Koob says they felt they had more information to move ahead first with setting standards for K-12. Koob says they believe birth to age five is a key time in the development of kids, but they didn’t feel ready to set standards yet. Koob says they want to first move ahead with the standards for K-12 and then give the community feedback on how early development impacts performance down the line.

The group also discussed the cultural impacts that are involved in the pre-school issue. Koob says cultures vary from community to community, with some communities that look the same, some are very successful and some are not. Koob says that success generally relates to the attitude of the community. Koob says the group hopes that as communities see that lack of early childhood education hurts their kids, they’ll want to do something about it.

Koob says consultants working with the group will put together a final draft of their ideas, and once members approve that draft, it will be sent to the legislature.