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Aurora Institute

Update on Iowa

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): State Policy, Redesign Accountability Systems for Continuous Improvement, Develop Educator Capacity, Base Learning on Mastery, not Seat Time


Iowa is advancing towards competency education. In a memo released July 16, 2012, Jason Glass, Director of the Iowa Department of Education outlined the statutory changes affecting schools based on the 2012 legislative session.

It leads with a discussion on SF 2284 on Competency-Based Instruction.

The State Board of Education will be adopting rules to allow a school district or accredited nonpublic school to award credit toward graduation based upon demonstrated competencies rather than “seat time.” The school will determine the assessment methods used to demonstrate competencies. There will be no need to request a waiver from the Department.

The Department will appoint a task force to conduct a study regarding competency-based instruction. The person representing the Area Education Agencies will convene the initial meeting of the task force. A preliminary report is due on January 15, 2013. That preliminary report will include, at a minimum, the following items:

  • Personal learning plans and templates.
  • Ways to empower learning through technology.
  • Professional development for educators to transition to a competency- based system.

The final report of the task force is due November 15, 2013. It will include, at a minimum, the following items:

  • The redefinition of the Carnegie Unit into competencies.
  • Student-centered accountability and assessment models.

Stay tuned as Iowa Competency-Based Instruction Task Force gets going.  I’m sure it will provide all of us with another opportunity to think deeply about the implications of competency education in state policy.  FYI — You can also find out more about what is going on in Iowa regarding competency education at the Forum on Competency-based Education website.