Dems: Education Committee Report – Week 7, 2018

February 21, 2018

SSB 3179 – ID and use of open source education material
SSB 3180 – Creates a dyslexia taskforce
SSB 3194 – Praxis II set score
SF 270 – Striking ability to have diversity plan for open enrollment purposes
SF 2113 – Suicide awareness training for school employees
SF 2114 – Department of Education technical clean up
SF 2131 – Expanding Iowa learning online initiative to homeschool students
SF 2137 – Extending school bus riding times
SF 2253 – Requiring all schools to develop a security plan
SF 2272 – Eliminates state accreditation for community colleges (HF 2071)
SF 2274 – Requires DE to put law, rule, code on every data report request 



SF 2113 has the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) adopt administrative rules to require licensed educators to have one hour of training on suicide awareness and prevention every year. A person may meet the requirement through independent self-review of approved training materials.  A committee amendment changes the timeframe requirements for training from once a year to upon renewal of a teaching/administrative license, which is every five years.
[2/20: 48-0 (Excused: Behn, Zumbach)]


SF 2114 is the Iowa Department of Education’s technical clean-up bill.  It makes non-controversial changes to Iowa Code relating to practitioner preparation programs, eliminates obsolete language relating to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, and repeals the before and after school grant program that hasn’t been funded in 10 years.  Highlights include:

  • A committee amendment eliminates work-based learning technical fixes in HF 648, which passed the House 98-0 in 2017.
  • Changing Iowa Code locations on the Department of Education’s approval process for practitioner preparation programs. Currently, approval of practitioner preparation programs is in Code chapters 256 (Department of Education) and 272 (Educational Examiners Board). The bill moves the language in Code chapter 272 to Code section 256.16 (specific criteria for teacher preparation and certain educators) and removes redundancies.
  • Striking unnecessary district-level reporting for the federal NCLB, which has been replaced with the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA).
  • Repealing the before and after school grant programs, which were established to provide competitive funding to expand before and after school programs and summer schools. The program has not received state funding since 2008.
    [2/20: 48-0 (Excused: Behn, Zumbach)]


SF 2131 expands the Iowa Learning Online (ILO) initiative to allow a homeschooled student to participate and complete coursework if the parent/guardian pays current market rate for the instruction. The fee will be established by the Department of Education and is the same for public schools, private schools and home schools. Currently, only school districts and accredited nonpublic schools may partner with ILO for distance education to high school students.

ILO is not a school. It is an initiative that partners with schools at their invitation to provide supplemental online course instruction. Upon successful completion of a course, ILO provides the school with the student’s percentage score. Grades and credit are awarded by the school.
[2/20: 48-0 (Excused: Behn, Zumbach)]


SF 2137 authorizes school boards to determine the riding time for students on regular school bus routes. Current time limits for how long students can ride on a bus under normal circumstances are 60 minutes for elementary and 75 minutes for high school. The bill sets bus riding time at 75 minutes for all K-12 students. However, the bill allows a school district to extend the one-way ride time beyond 75 minutes if it holds a public hearing on bus route changes, notifies affected families and adopts a resolution to go over the maximum allowed ride time. Democrats offered an amendment to prevent districts from having students ride a bus for more than 75 minutes. That amendment failed on a party-line vote.
[2/20: 30-18 (No: Democrats, D. Johnson; Yes: Republicans, Bowman, Dvorsky, Kinney; Excused: Behn, Zumbach)]
SF 2274 requires the director of the Department of Education to cite the state or federal statute, rule or regulation necessitating inclusion of information in reports required of a school district, area education agency and accredited nonpublic school, or their officers or employees. The Board of Regents and the Department spoke against this bill because they currently collaborate in data gathering on student career paths, retention and workforce. None of these are specifically required by Iowa Code or Rule, but are useful to many entities, including the Legislature and Governor.
[2/20: 37-11 (No: Bisignano, Boulton, Bolkcom, Danielson, Dotzler, Hogg, Jochum, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Taylor; Excused: Behn, Zumbach)]

SSB 3179 establishes requirements for use and identification of open educational resources by postsecondary institutions. Iowa’s colleges must identify in each course catalog the courses that will use open educational resources, defined as materials used to support education that are in the public domain or are under an open license and that may be freely accessed, reused, modified or shared. A committee amendment makes this easier to implement for colleges.
[2/15: 14-0-1 (Pass: Quirmbach)]


SSB 3180 creates a dyslexia taskforce, which will be staffed by the Department of Education. The bill specifies task force membership, and directs the task force to submit to the Governor and Legislature a report on findings and recommendations for dyslexia response by November 15, 2019.
[2/15: 15-0]


SSB 3194 requires the Board of Educational Examiners to set the minimum score on state-mandated subject assessments (Praxis II) students must achieve to successfully complete a practitioner preparation program and for initial teacher licensure. The Board of Educational Examiners, in collaboration with the state board, must review and consider the average scores achieved nationally on the assessments and review Iowa’s minimum scores every five years.
[2/15: 15-0]


SF 270 eliminates the ability of five Iowa schools to have a voluntary desegregation plan. Under current law, a school district may deny a request for open enrollment if the superintendent finds that the enrollment or release of the pupil will adversely affect the district’s voluntary or court-ordered desegregation plan. This bill would eliminate all plans and that ability.
[2/15: 8-7 (No: Democrats, Lofgren)]


SF 2191 creates three new mandates on Iowa’s public universities and community colleges and their students. First, public university and community college students who will graduate on or after July 1, 2019, must complete a one-credit-hour financial literacy course prior to graduation. Second, public universities and community colleges must provide every student an annual report listing the employment rate in the student’s field, average starting salary and average student debt upon graduation. Third, the board of regents must develop and implement a policy by July 1, 2019, requiring at least 50 percent of baccalaureate degree programs offered at each university to be capable of completion in three academic years. A committee amendment strikes community colleges from the bill.
[2/15: 9-6, party line]


SF 2253 requires a school district to establish a security plan for individual school buildings. The plan must include responses to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters. For safety reasons, a committee amendment strikes a requirement to that the plan be distributed to the parents.
[2/15: 15-0]

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