Branstad signs ed reform billGovernor Terry Branstad (R-IA) signed House File 215 into law this morning at a signing ceremony held at Des Moines North High School.  He touted the legislation as historic during remarks given before signing the bill.

“The 2013 education reform bill promises to provide all Iowa schools with the support they need to significantly raise student achievement,” said Branstad. “Change is never easy. But it was particularly painful that we had to acknowledge that Iowa slipped over the past two decades from a national leader in education to the middle of the pack.”

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds added, “This landmark legislation speaks to how much Iowans value the importance of giving their children a world-class education.  It  is the result of an extraordinary effort by many leaders over the past several years to reach agreement on the changes needed to restore Iowa schools to best in the nation and give Iowa’s students a globally competitive education.”

Present at the bill signing were members of the Iowa House and Senate Education Committees and Senate President Pro Tem Pam Jochum, as well as, outgoing Director of the Iowa Department of Education, Jason Glass, and other community stakeholders.

The primary components of the bill are:

  • Develops a teacher career pathways structure which will give top teachers a chance to take on more instructional leadership responsibility in order to help with the professional development of fellow teachers and to mentor struggling teachers.  This is an optional program that will set aside $3.5 million in planning grants, and will increase funding for participating districts by $300 per student.
  • An increase to the minimum starting teacher’s pay to $33,500 and provides extra pay for teachers who take on leadership roles.
  • Expands Iowa Learning Online, a state-run system that has provided courses online and through the Iowa Communications Network since 2004.
  • Creates pilot programs in competency-based education, an approach that advances students based on their mastery of content rather than age or seat time.
  • Changes the minimum instructional time required in a school year by giving school districts a choice between 1,080 hours or 180 days.
  • Creates college loan programs for teaching candidates. This program will be available to successful students who want to teach in high-need areas.
  • Creates a centralized state-wide website where schools can post their teaching openings.
  • The development of a task force that will research student assessments that will lead to the development of teacher evaluations that include student achievement as one component.
  • Increases school funding. School funding will increase 2 percent next year, with an additional 2 percent bonus. School funding increases 4 percent in the second year.
  • It changes the school finance formula so that “allowable growth” is replaced by 100% state aid.

Governor Branstad said that he will be appointing an acting director for the Iowa Department of Education soon and will begin a nationwide search to replace Jason Glass who is leaving to become the Superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Colorado.

You can watch Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds remarks below (FYI, I apologize for the video quality, these were taken with my iPhone at a distance.  The audio is pretty good however):


You can watch Governor Branstad’s remarks below:


Photo credit: Iowa Department of Education

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