Teaching in Iowa
Enrollment in Iowa schools is changing. Though overall enrollment has been slowly declining since 1997, the number of minority students in the state is higher than ever before, now 18.5 percent of the student body. Also, more students are receiving free or reduced-price lunch—up to nearly 40 percent in fact. As such changes continue, Iowa needs teachers who can work in this changing school environment, and who are able to teach effectively across ethnic and economic boundaries.This doesn’t mean that Iowans are done developing their education system. In the fall of 2011, Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass began promoting several initiatives to continue improving Iowa’s schools. After much debate over the goals and the effects of these proposals, the Iowa legislature enacted some of them, rejected others, and implemented others in part. Educators and legislators alike continue to discuss what next steps should be taken to develop Iowa’s schools. Governor Branstad is determined to continue to advocate educational reform and improvement, knowing that what’s been passed so far is only a start. One of the governor’s proposals was to end social promotion of third-grade students who could not read. After the legislature examined and debated the issue, the bill was altered to meet the concerns of certain educators who believed the bill would be too harsh. Now, third graders who do not demonstrate adequate reading skills will be given the option of taking a summer school remedial program, or repeating the third grade. Another issue is that Iowa’s pay system for teachers is 90 years old. Currently, pay raises are awarded according to only two factors—number of years served and educational degree. A proposal was advanced to change the pay schedule so that raises could be based more on teacher performance. For now this proposal has been put aside, while a task force has been appointed to review the issue further. One proposal not passed was the governor’s plan to increase school accountability through more vigorous testing. Under the governor’s plan, passing end-of-course examinations would be required for high school graduation, and all 11th grade students would be required to take the ACT examination. So far, neither of these ideas has been adopted by the legislature. Education Director Glass has identified three major goals for the next year: continue to develop the Iowa Core Standards curriculum, develop educator quality, and customize student instruction.Benefits packages for Iowa teachers include health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance; and enrollment in the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS). Teachers may retire with full benefits at the age of 65 (or at the age of 62, if they’ve taught for at least 20 years). Pension amounts are based upon number of years of service, paying up to 65 percent of the average amount earned in the teacher’s five highest-paid years. Several organizations in Iowa (see to the right) are devoted to teacher development, and to providing educational resources to Iowa teachers. These organizations often publish and discuss research on teaching programs and techniques, and often offer classroom activities or curriculum supplements to improve teachers’ classrooms.
- What’s the education climate in Iowa?
- How’s the job outlook for Iowa teachers?
- What benefits do Iowa teachers have?
- What are the credentialing requirements in Iowa?
- Find schools offering Masters in Education programs in Iowa
What’s the education climate in Iowa?Iowa recently received the 21st Century Skills Practice of the Year Award, becoming one of seven states honored by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills for updating their curriculum and education methods to fit the needs of students in this century. In order to accomplish this goal, Iowa Core Curriculum had not only been revised to meet the latest research on standards for reading, writing, and mathematics instruction, but also expanded to include a new set of core standards specifically developed for 21st-century learning: civic literacy, financial literacy, technological literacy, health literacy, and employability skills. The goal of the new standards is to educate students so that they’re not only prepared for success in college, but also equipped for longer-term success in career and social arenas.
Starting/Average Salaries – Iowa Teachers
- Elementary School Teacher: $30,598 / $44,819
- Middle School Teacher: $31,940 / $46,537
- Secondary School Teacher: $31,300 / $44,862
- Average for all Iowa jobs: $38,820