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Report: Iowa’s teacher leadership system shows positive results 

DES MOINES –  Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system continues to strengthen teaching and learning, with more school districts reporting progress meeting their local student achievement goals for the third year in a row.

Iowa has the nation’s most extensive teacher leadership system, which taps into the expertise of top teachers to strengthen instruction and raise student achievement by increasing coaching, data analysis and collaboration. Last school year was the third with all districts participating, and 58 percent reported mostly or fully meeting local achievement goals, up from 56 percent in 2017-18 and 50 percent in 2016-17. Iowa invests $163 million in teacher leadership annually.

Student achievement goals are based on several measures, including literacy screening assessments, state assessments and other local measures.

“Teachers are one of the most important influences on our students’ ability to learn, develop and ultimately succeed. The teacher leadership and compensation program supports educators’ increasingly complex work to prepare children for success,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This program underscores our all-out effort to recruit and retain the very best teachers while also investing in their future career path.”

“Iowa is leading the way in teacher leadership, which is about empowering teachers to do their best work so that students can do their best work,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Through teacher leadership, our schools are transforming the teaching profession for the better.”

The end-of-year report from school districts released Thursday shows teacher leadership also is a factor in attracting and retaining teachers. In 2018-19, 89 percent of districts reported they mostly or fully met their recruiting and retention goals, maintaining the same level as in 2017-18.

Iowa’s teacher leadership system makes the teaching profession in Iowa more appealing through larger base salaries and mentoring for new teachers, as well as meaningful leadership opportunities for experienced teachers.

The Dunkerton Community School District credits the teacher leadership system with building a “culture of support” that has led to a significant drop in teacher turnover in three years. The northeast Iowa district went from losing an average of 10 of its 45 teachers each year before the teacher leadership system to three per year now.

The district’s teacher leadership team meets with new teachers weekly and provides support to all teachers by observing classrooms, reviewing data and reflecting on best practices. District surveys show teachers feel supported and engaged.

“We do better together because we learn better together,” said Kory Kelchen, principal of secondary schools and activities director. “This outlook creates an environment where teachers see their value and their impact on student learning. We believe the culture that has been created through our teacher leadership system has made Dunkerton a place where our teachers want to be.”

Districts reported other benefits, including higher-quality, job-embedded professional development for teachers and a school culture in which teachers feel valued and heard.

Iowa is building on teacher leadership by putting in place an instructional framework, which is about creating a common language and vision for quality teaching across an entire district. The framework, developed through a partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, is supporting teacher leadership plans in 80 participating school districts.

About Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system:

Iowa’s teacher leadership system rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities, attracts promising teachers with competitive starting salaries and support, and fosters greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from each other. The system is the centerpiece of an education reform package adopted by legislators in 2013 and was phased in over three years. Today, more than 10,000 teachers in Iowa’s 327 school districts are in leadership roles, such as instructional coaches and mentors.

The end-of-year report is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

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