Linn County Educator on Teacher Evaluation Task Force

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

LINN COUNTY, Iowa - On Monday, Iowa's Department of Education Director, Jason Glass, tapped 20 people to sit on his "Teaching Standards and Teacher Evaluation Task Force."

This is part of Governor Branstad's renewed effort for education reform. Last year, lawmakers were lukewarm to many of the ideas. This time, Glass is tapping educators to identify teachers' effectiveness in the classroom. Iowa teachers have previously expressed concern about what a new evaluation system will mean for teacher salaries.

Kim Owen is a former teacher, mother of three and a regional administrator for the Grant Wood AEA in Cedar Rapids. Grant Wood AEA works with multiple districts across Linn County. Owen says her experience working with district leaders and teachers gives her a unique look at educator concerns in local learning systems.

"When I talk to teachers and leaders, I think there are still some things missing. They know there's more they'd like to do," Owen said.
The Iowa legislature now wants Owen and her peers to find these gaps, fill in the pieces, and share their discoveries in hopes of improving student learning across Iowa. Owen suspects that is only the start of a long process.

"Making the recommendation is one thing, actually building an infrastructure to support next steps...is the important next step." Owen says she believes innovative learning is happening all across Iowa. The goal now, she said, is to identify the success stories, grow and expand these good teaching practices.

"There's a lot of folks in our state, not only looking at best practices outside of our state, but also the bright spots and successes we have here locally."

One of these successes, Owen says, is a good collaborative learning environment across Eastern Iowa. Owen says she's seen many local districts encouraging teachers and administrators to challenge each other in positive ways.

The new education task force will meet September 19th from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church (Waveland Rooms I and II), 4126 Ingersoll Ave., in Des Moines. The task for will give its recommendations to the Iowa legislature by November 15th.
Members of the Teaching Standards and Teacher Evaluation Task Force are as follows:

Salvadore Aguirre, Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines

Sarah Brown Wessling, Johnston Community School District, Johnston

Mary Jane Cobb, Iowa State Education Association, Des Moines

Joan Crowl, Glenwood Community School District, Glenwood

Byron Darnall, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines

Melissa Devereaux, Newell-Fonda Community School District, Newell

Tom Downs, Iowa Association of School Boards, Des Moines

Shaelynn Farnsworth, BCLUW Community School District, Conrad

Jessica Gogerty, Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines

Joen Larson, Iowa Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Clinton

Duane Magee, Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Des Moines

Erin Olsen, Sioux Central Community School District, Sioux Rapids

Kim Owen, Grant Wood Area Educational Agency, Cedar Rapids

Mary Beth Schroeder Fracek, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines

Dan Smith, School Administrators of Iowa, Des Moines

Greg Smith, Fort Madison Community School District, Fort Madison

Jeff Thelander, Lawton-Bronson Community School District, Lawton

David Tilly, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines

Mary Herring, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls

Cynthia Wissler, Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines
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