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State moving closer to beginning new teacher leadership programs in schools

(Radio Iowa) – One of the key components of the state education reform plan is moving closer to being implemented. Ryan Wise, the director of strategic initiatives at the Iowa Department of Education, says districts are in the planning phase of creating teacher leadership positions. The idea is to take the best teachers and use them as mentors for other teachers to raise the quality of education overall.

Wise says a lot of the early discussion centered on how to define the roles of the experienced teachers who will lead others. “I think there are certainly questions out there and as a department we’re working hard to answer them and to really help facilitate conversations locally where they can answer the questions and develop a model of teacher leadership that works for them,” Wise says.

There are some state  requirements for the teacher leadership positions, including a minimum salary of $33,500, the district is required to “improve entry into the profession for all new teachers” He says they also have to create multiple leadership roles, have a rigorous selection process for the leadership roles, and finally that they align their professional development plan to the new leadership positions.

The state has $3.5-million to give to districts to help them in the planning process. Wise says the Education Department will send out an application to districts to apply to take part in the leadership program. He says they will also include a scoring system so district know how their application will be scored and they will have until January 31st of 2014 to submit their actual plan.

The state will then phase in the leadership plans across the state. “Districts serving one-third of the students in Iowa will come in each year — because that’s an important distinction because it may not equal exactly a third of the districts — but it’s a third of the students will come in in each of the first three years of the program,” Wise says.

The legislature appropriated $50-million for the implementation of the new plan.