About one-third of the state’s school districts have started the application process to set up teacher mentoring programs and start changing the way teachers are paid. The application deadline is January 31st and Iowa Department of Education director Brad Buck says the grant money will be distributed based on a formula, so schools of all sizes and in all areas of the state will get started in year one.
“Great teachers are at the heart of good schools,” Buck says. “The teacher leadership and compensation system is about investing in our teachers, who are the most important influence on learning inside schools, to improve instruction and raise student achievement.”
The education reform law passed in 2013 set aside enough grant money for these teacher projects in one-third of Iowa schools in the first year, two thirds in the second and all schools in the third year. The new law does not require schools to participate, but Governor Terry Branstad expects all will do so given the additional state money that’s being offered. Branstad says $309 per student is a “significant financial incentive” for participation. A few schools in rural areas with low enrollment, however, may opt out because of the higher minimum teacher salary required by the new law, as the additional state money won’t be enough to cover the rquired salary hikes.
Buck says two task forces created by the 2013 law are coming up with recommendations, too. One task force is considering new ways to evaluate teachers and the other will recommend the best way to test students.
“The main goal with this is to make sure we’re going everything we can as a state to make sure all students leave high school prepared for post-secondary education and training,” Buck says.
A new state-run website for job openings in Iowa schools — www.TeachIowa.gov — has been created because of the education reform plan, too. Almost 1500 job openings are advertised on the website today.
Buck and Branstad made their comments this morning during the governor’s weekly news conference.
AUDIO of news conference, 25:00