State lawmakers are revisiting the possibility of a new evaluation system for Iowa teachers with a special task force.
On Monday, Iowa Department of Education director Jason Glass tapped 20 people to sit on his Teaching Standards and Teacher Evaluation Task Force.
The group is part of Governor Terry Branstad’s renewed effort for education reform. Last year, lawmakers were lukewarm to many of the ideas. This time, Glass is tapping educators to identify teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. Iowa teachers have previously expressed concern about what a new evaluation system will mean for teacher salaries.
One of the appointees is Kim Owen, a former teacher, mother of three and a regional administrator for the Grant Wood AEA in Cedar Rapids. Grant Wood AEA works with multiple districts across Linn County. Owen says her experience working with district leaders and teachers gives her a unique look at educator concerns in local learning systems.
“When I talk to teachers and leaders, I think there are still some things missing,” Owen said. “They know there’s more they’d like to do.”
The Iowa Legislature now wants Owen and her peers to find these gaps, fill in the pieces, and share their discoveries in hopes of improving student learning across Iowa. Owen suspects that is only the start of a long process.
“Making the recommendation is one thing,” Owen said. “Actually building an infrastructure to support next steps…is the important next step.”
Owen says she believes innovative learning is happening all across Iowa. The goal now, she said, is to identify the success stories and to grow and expand these good teaching practices.
“There’s a lot of folks in our state, not only looking at best practices outside of our state, but also the bright spots and successes we have here locally.”
One of these successes, Owen says, is a good collaborative learning environment across Eastern Iowa. Owen says she’s seen many local districts encouraging teachers and administrators to challenge each other in positive ways.
The new education task force will meet Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church, 4126 Ingersoll Ave. in Des Moines. The task force will give its recommendations to the Legislature by Nov. 15.
Members of the Teaching Standards and Teacher Evaluation Task Force are as follows: