Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds joined Education Director Jason Glass today and announced that they will host the Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium on Friday, August 3, at Drake University in Des Moines.
"Young people need to finish high school ready for college or career training, so they can compete for jobs that pay well in a global, knowledge-based economy," said Branstad. "That means principals alone can't provide all the leadership needed inside schools to continually improve learning and raise achievement for all children."
Branstad says that leadership includes everything from setting and updating academic goals to constantly analyzing data to field testing instructional strategies.
"It's time to utilize the untapped talents of Iowa's many outstanding teachers who are interested in taking on greater leadership responsibilities," said Branstad. "Stronger, shared leadership by principals and teachers is key to creating world-class schools."
Branstad says he and Reynolds are holding the symposium to focus on how to organize schools to treat teachers as leaders, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Symposium speakers and panelists will share their thinking about shared principal and teacher leadership. We'll hear about why this matters, how it's being done in this state and country, and how top-performing school systems around the globe approach this issue.
Branstad and Reynolds also unveiled a new web site for the symposium: http://educationleadership.iowa.gov
Symposium registration is open to the public, and they hope a cross section of Iowans will attend, including educators, school board members, business leaders, parents and legislators.
"Teacher leadership will be at the heart of our 2013 legislative package because it is critical to give students the knowledge and skills they need to be well prepared," said Branstad.
"We also recognize that growing expectations for students place even more demands upon teachers, without always providing teachers with the support needed to meet those demands," said Reynolds. "Stronger, shared principal and teacher leadership can help schools do that more effectively."
Teacher and Principal Symposium, page 2
Reynolds stressed that the symposium is about ending the outdated practice of teachers working largely in isolation in their classrooms and moving toward greater teacher collaboration to help students learn more. Some Iowa schools have already set off in this direction, and two of them will be on hand at the August 3 symposium: Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
"Raising achievement for each student is the goal that should shape every decision," said Reynolds. "But building stronger, shared principal and teacher leadership will also have another benefit: Offering teachers new career paths and raising the status of the teaching profession."
Branstad and Reynolds note that their October 2011 education blueprint included a four-tier teacher leadership and compensation structure, with master, mentor, career and apprentice teachers. When they took the blueprint out on the road to town-hall meetings across the state, Iowans raised many good questions about it would be put into operation.
So the decision was made to study the issue further, and make recommendations to the 2013 Legislature.
In February, Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced the members of a new Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation Taskforce, and they are meeting monthly. Their report is due Oct. 15.
"The status quo is not serving our children well. We have to set the bar higher," said Reynolds.
Here are just a few statistics that drive that home:
Nearly 23 percent of Iowa third-graders don't read proficiently on state tests.
Just 33 percent of Iowa fourth-graders read at proficient or advanced levels on the exam known as the nation's report card.
In math, just 34 percent of Iowa eighth-graders are proficient or advanced on that exam.
Only 35 percent of Iowa eighth-graders are proficient or advanced in science.
"Our children deserve better," said Reynolds. "A stronger, shared principal and teacher leadership model can help us make faster progress toward restoring Iowa schools to best in the nation, and giving all students a globally competitive education."
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