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State launches teacher leadership program in 39 districts

educationDES MOINES – Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck today announced the first group of Iowa school districts selected to launch teacher leadership systems next school year.

Top teachers taking on leadership roles to improve instruction and raise student achievement is the centerpiece of Iowa’s landmark 2013 education reform package. New teacher leadership systems across Iowa will allow teachers to work in greater collaboration with colleagues and learn from each other instead of operating largely in isolation in their classrooms. Teacher leadership systems will be phased in over three years, with the goal of all districts participating by 2016-17, although whether to do so is a local decision.

Based on the recommendations of the 19-member Commission on Teacher Leadership and Compensation, Director Buck selected 39 school districts out of 146 applicants from across the state. The districts – serving a mix of urban, suburban and rural communities – enroll about one-third of Iowa students. Two of the districts will share teacher leadership systems. Selected districts are listed at the end of this press release.

Teacher leadership systems promise to help students learn more by better meeting their individual needs. They also will attract and retain more effective teachers by enhancing career opportunities and paying stipends for taking on extra responsibilities. With higher expectations for students, it’s no longer realistic for one principal to provide all the instructional leadership in a school. Teacher and principal leadership teams can support the more complex work required to prepare students for a knowledge-based economy.

Districts were selected for the first round based on the strength of their application as well as geographic and size diversity.

“Selection of this first group of school districts to launch teacher leadership systems is an important step forward as Iowans work to restore our schools to best in the nation,” said Branstad. “Iowans are committed to giving students a world-class education. Better utilizing teacher leadership to leverage other reforms moves us in the right direction.”

“We are pleased that 146 school districts applied to be in the first group,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Great teaching is the most critical factor affecting learning inside schools, and the teacher leadership systems recognize that teacher collaboration can be a game-changer.”

“This first group of school districts will help transform education across Iowa,” said Buck. “The state’s role is to provide leadership and support so they can implement their teacher leadership systems in a way that best meets local needs.”

Districts that applied to start teacher leadership systems next fall were required to set a vision and goals for what they plan to accomplish. They also had to address “must-haves,” such as setting a minimum teacher salary of $33,500, improved entry into the profession, including mentoring for new teachers, and a rigorous selection process for leadership roles.

Districts selected will receive about $309 per pupil next school year to implement their teacher leadership systems. The annual cost statewide is nearly $50 million in FY15, growing to about $150 million annually in the third year. After the initial year of district implementation, the teacher leadership funding rolls into the Iowa school finance formula.

The next step for school districts is selecting their teacher leaders. Branstad’s FY15 budget recommendations include $4 million for the Iowa Department of Education, working with Area Education Agencies, to provide technical assistance and leadership development for the districts in the first group implementing teacher leadership systems in 2014-15.

The selected districts are:




Cedar Rapids


Council Bluffs





East Marshall

East Union


Greene County


Humboldt (in collaboration with Twin Rivers)


Le Mars



Mount Pleasant


North Polk






Rock Valley



Sioux City

Southeast Polk

Twin Rivers (in collaboration with Humboldt)

Van Meter


West Des Moines

Western Dubuque


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