Iowa Looking Forward

This post is by Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder & President of NCTL. 

In 1989 Iowa Governor Terry Branstad chaired the National Governors Association (NGA) and together with then President Bush (Sr.) called a summit of the nation's governors to set national goals for education. At the time, I was on the NGA staff and that seminal event, for which Bill Clinton served as co-chair, helped to launch the standards movement in America.  More than 20 years later, Branstad is back in the Iowa's governor's seat and this week I was in Iowa speaking before the state's Task Force on Instructional Time.  A lot had changed in Iowa educationally since 1989. Iowa has gone from one of the highest achieving states in the nation to the middle of the pack.  The good news is that in addition to implementing the more rigorous Iowa Core standards, state leaders are looking to implement important additional reforms aimed at accelerating achievement.  A task force was established by the legislature to explore options to expand the school calendar and the Iowa Department of Education asked NCTL to present at the first meeting.  The members are tasked to examine whether the state's instructional hours should be expanded and to "design, propose, and establish goals for a pilot project on extending the school day or year to expand instructional time for prekindergarten through grade twelve."  
The bi-partisan, broad-based group, made up of leaders from education, business (including tourism), and  community organizations, as well as state legislators who are serving as ex officio members, asked very thoughtful questions. They will be reporting their recommendations to the legislature by October 15. NCTL is excited to see another state take a serious and thoughtful look at the benefits of expanding school time.  Check out my presentation and the media coverage of the meeting. We will keep you posted on Iowa's progress and recommendations.