Elevating Education – Comprehensive Vision for Student Success
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Elevating Education – Comprehensive Vision for Student Success

Elevating Education Reviews – In Iowa, a transformative effort is underway to provide every student with an education that transcends barriers of income, zip code, or ability. The state is steadfast in its commitment to preparing students for a successful life through a high-quality education system and dedicated educators. As Governor Reynolds outlines her education priorities for the 2024 legislative session, the focus is on key areas that can shape the future of Iowa's education landscape.

  1. Increasing Teacher Salaries:

Recognizing the crucial role teachers play in shaping young minds, Governor Reynolds aims to increase teacher salaries. By investing in educators, Iowa aims to attract and retain top talent, ensuring students benefit from the best possible guidance.

  1. Improving Literacy Through Evidence-Based Reading Instruction:

Literacy forms the foundation of all learning, yet a significant percentage of Iowa's third graders struggle with proficient reading. The state is making strides to address this issue by investing $9.2 million in providing comprehensive training to teachers and school administrators in evidence-based reading instruction. This initiative, initiated in November 2023, aims to enhance the teaching of reading and writing, thereby improving literacy rates and unlocking greater opportunities for students.

Iowa is also holding colleges and universities accountable for training future educators in the science of reading. A notable step is the requirement for Early Childhood, Elementary, K-12 Reading and Literacy Preparation, and Special Education teacher licensure candidates to pass the Foundations of Reading assessment as a condition of graduation. Additionally, a $3.1 million investment will cover the cost of the Foundations of Reading assessment for current teachers who must pass it within three years.

Furthermore, Iowa schools will now develop personalized reading plans for students not proficient in reading by third grade and up to sixth grade. School districts are mandated to inform parents about the option to retain students who are not proficient in reading by the third grade.

  1. Supporting the Expansion of High-Quality Public Charter Schools:

Recognizing the diversity of learning needs, Iowa advocates for the expansion of high-quality public charter schools. These tuition-free schools offer varied educational experiences, ranging from fine arts to intensive STEM curricula. Some charter schools specifically cater to at-risk youth, providing them with resources and opportunities to succeed in both academic and community settings post-graduation.

Iowa plans to invest $5 million in the Charter School Start-up Grant program, supporting the establishment and enhancement of charter schools. To further facilitate this, vacant or underutilized public school district facilities will be made available for lease or purchase by other educational entities, including nonpublic or charter schools. The goal is to provide families with more educational choices and prepare students for a diverse range of future paths.

  1. Reforming Area Educational Agencies (AEAs) for Special Education Services:

Established in 1974, Iowa's Area Education Agencies (AEAs) were created to serve children and students with disabilities. However, after 50 years, it is time to reform the AEA system to better focus on its core mission – providing high-quality special education services and helping students with disabilities reach their full potential.

Despite substantial funding – over $529 million in fiscal year 2023 – students with disabilities in Iowa are performing below the national average. Governor Reynolds proposes a significant shift in the allocation of state special education funding, moving it from AEAs to school districts. This shift aims to empower districts to choose providers that best meet the unique needs of their students.

Furthermore, the proposal advocates for shifting general supervision authority and related funds from AEAs to the Iowa Department of Education. The envisioned restructuring allows AEAs to exclusively provide special education services for children and students with disabilities from birth to age 21, along with special and general education services for juvenile, detention, and foster care children and adults. Additional services can be provided under existing contracts.

To ensure a smooth transition, a year-long period is proposed for implementing these changes. This thoughtful approach aims to bring stability and improved support for children and students with disabilities.


Iowa's commitment to elevating education for every student is evident in the comprehensive vision outlined by Governor Reynolds. By prioritizing teacher salaries, literacy programs, public charter schools, and reforms to enhance special education services, the state aims to build a robust education system that prepares students for success in both college and their future careers.

Through strategic investments in teacher training, literacy initiatives, and the expansion of educational choices, Iowa seeks to create an inclusive and dynamic learning environment. The proposed reforms to the Area Educational Agencies signal a shift towards a more effective and accountable system, with a renewed focus on providing tailored support to students with disabilities.

As Iowa paves the way for educational innovation and improvement, the state is poised to set a benchmark for student success, ensuring that every learner, regardless of background, has the tools and opportunities needed for a prosperous future.


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