Over the next three weeks, over 500,000 Iowa children will head back to the classroom for another school year.

Many of those students will benefit from action taken by the Iowa Legislature over the last several years to boost student achievement and make sure students graduate with the skills to continue their education after high school and land a good job.

One of the key improvements this year is better literacy screening. The goal is to identify students who are reading behind grade level and then provide more intensive support to help them succeed. A few of the other highlights this year include:

  • 39 school districts will roll out plans for their compensation systems with increased teacher salaries and collaboration. The systems will expand to all school districts in the next two years.
  • Schools have the option of counting their school days by days or hours, and many have switched to hours for more flexibility in offering instruction.
  • Area Education Agencies and the Iowa Reading Research Center will collaborate in providing teachers with reading professional development. Dyslexia is now defined in Iowa law.
  • Uniform procedures are available for transferring foster care students in receiving class credit.
  • A school district’s ability to establish a whole grade sharing agreement with another district is extended until 2019.
  • Districts are able to agree to share program positions with less red tape from the state.
  • A person issued a coaching authorization now falls under laws to prevent sexual exploitation by a school employee.
  • Funding is expanded for online learning with 42 additional courses being offered this year through Iowa Learning Online.

Higher Education

Most of Iowa’s colleges and universities will also start by the end of this month. Students attending a Regent university will, for the second year in a row, benefit from a tuition freeze. That freeze was approved by legislators again this year in an effort to keep college more affordable for all Iowa families.

Another 95,000 Iowans will be attending one of Iowa’s 15 community colleges this fall. Those students can take advantage of expanded job training and financial assistance to start a new career.

Colorful Chalk at Chalkboard