A study by a bipartisan state panel finds many Iowa high school graduates are not prepared to meet the demands of the modern workforce. Robert Koob, a member of the group Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce, says several improvements still need to be made in Iowa’s educational system, starting with the perception.

Koob, former president of the University of Northern Iowa, says: "The people of Iowa no longer believe that Iowa’s education is excellent. They think we’re adequate but not excellent any longer. Their belief tends to be reinforced by data. The second belief they have is that (a good education) is not equally available all across Iowa."

Koob says the panel, which was formed in 2005, has a series of suggestions it would like legislators and other leaders to consider in order to improve the state of education in Iowa. Koob says: "We’ve met for the last two years. We have a series of recommendations. Our recommendations last year were to begin reversing the teachers’ salary decline."

Koob says that’s already being handled as legislators approved a pay hike for teachers during the current session. He says the panel has another suggestion. Koob says: "We need to make sure that Iowa’s standards for education do, in fact, map to the workforce needs. There are such things as the community colleges, the universities, other professional organizations that could say to our school systems, ‘Yes, these are the kinds of things that will make your young people, if they learn them, qualified to enter the workforce.’"

He says the group also wants teacher pay based on competence, not just years on the job.