Agency Updates – December 2017


The Cornerstone – November/December 2017

FastBridge Update

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies will subsidize costs for districts to upgrade their DE provided FastBridge (FAST) subscriptions.  This offer will allow districts to gain access to all K-6 FAST application features, which includes additional functionality in the area of literacy and access to data warehousing, reporting, training and certification in mathematics and behavior. Subscriptions are based on a per student annual cost. Your AEA and the statewide AEA system have committed to covering 50 percent of the cost for each K-6 student in Iowa.

This is the webinar recording from Friday, Dec. 1. The one-hour webinar provided an overview of the FastBridge suite of formative assessment tools available for K-6 students in math and behavior and was presented during the Statewide Curriculum Network.

If you prefer, you also can access the slides used during the webinar.

As a reminder, here is the information shared by the AEAs regarding the pricing structure negotiated with FastBridge Learning by the AEAs, and deadlines for notifying your AEA if your school plans to participate in 2018-19.

Many districts have already expressed interest to their respective AEA about using this suite of assessments. We are asking that you complete this formal interest survey in order to facilitate a systemic approach to implementation.

If you have any questions, please contact Cindy Yelick,  We will be collecting questions and facilitating feedback from FastBridge Learning, and will share this in an FAQ document in the near future. ​

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Instructional Services – December 2017

Early Childhood Network, What Do I Do With This Data? GOLD and IGDI’s

Curriculum Network

  • Dec 18th,  Zoom Meeting for all Directors

Counselor Academy – Dec 15th @ Ottumwa AEA

Blended Learning Day 2:

  • January 9th @ FACC (you did not have to attend Day 1to attend)

Registration link

Really Great Reading Training for current and new users

  • January 29th: Kindergarten Countdown program
  • January 30th: Boost
  • January 31st: Blast & Blitz
  • February 1st: HD Word

For more information about Really Great Reading go to the following link Registration will be available the week of Dec 11th.

PRESS Training provided by the Minnesota Center for Reading Research

  • January 10th Class-wide (two ½ day sessions morning or afternoon)
  • January 16th K-1
  • January 24th 2-3
  • January 25th 4-5

For more information about PRESS go to the following link  . Registration will be available the week of Dec 11th.

English Learners

Math Intervention & Assessment

Karen Karp, a nationally respected mathematics and special education researcher will present around effective interventions for Tier 1 and Tier 2 math instruction.  February 21 will support K-2 teachers and February 22 will support teachers for grades 3-5.  Dr. Karp’s message for both days is similar content with grade-level specific activities.


  • FOSS Kit orders for 2018-19 are due by January 17, 2018
  • Contact: Craig Leager, Science Specialist at

Fierce Conversation Training (both 1 credit and 2 credit courses) at Burlington AEA (now in course catalog)

  • January 29
  • February 16
  • March 8 (online work; don’t meet)
  • March 9

Instructional Rounds Network

  • Ft. Madison, February 5
  • New London, March 6
  • Sigourney, April 19
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Special Education – December 2017

Improvements in Special Education Evaluation & Eligibility

In November, I provided information about the AW case and the impact of the ALJ’s decision.  That information can be found in A. W. Due Process Decision and Impact Upon Current Special Education Evaluation Practice.  

In response to the judge’s decision, we have been focusing on improving our special education evaluation and eligibility practices with our staff members.  We will continue to work with our staff to focus on implementing these improvements throughout the year.

As a result of our work with AEA staff, you or your staff may start to see changes in how evaluation results are shared with your staff members.  You will also find more emphasis being placed upon the TEAM making the eligibility decision together.  If you or your staff members are interested in learning more about the changes that we expect to see from AEA staff in the application of eligibility and evaluation practices, you may learn more by viewing this presentation.   It includes both content and reflection or discussion questions.  Please access the video outline to learn more about content covered in the slides and to preview the reflection or discussion questions.

If you have additional questions, please contact your Regional Director or Angelisa Fynaardt.

Online Learning About Specially Designed Instruction

The AEA PD Online Learning now has a 4-module series on specially designed instruction (SDI).  The series includes an overview of SDI and a module on diagnosing student needs, designing SDI, and delivering SDI.  The modules were developed by Sue Daker and Julie Schendel as part of a collaborative project with the Department of Education.  The modules are located in the AEA PD Online Learning system in the Training System.  If you have questions or need support to locate the modules, please contact your Regional Director or Deborah Cleveland (

Free Workshop: Navigating the Transition Process on February 27 & 28

Financial Incentive Options for Iowa Teachers to Obtain a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Endorsement

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Agency Updates – November 2017

Great Prairie AEA Board of Directors Election Results

In October, Great Prairie AEA held Board Elections in four of their nine Director Districts. Congratulations to the following elected Board Members:

  • Melissa Ballard – Director District #2, which includes Albia, Chariton, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Moravia & Wayne
  • Margaret Kelly – Director District #6, which includes Fairfield, Pekin, WACO, Winfield-Mt. Union & a portion of the Ottumwa School District
  • Janet Smith – Director District #7, which includes Mediapolis, Morning Sun, Mount Pleasant, New London & Wapello
  • Victoria Stephenson – Director District #9, which includes Danville, Fort Madison, West Burlington, and a portion of the Burlington School District

Learn more about GPAEA Board of Directors and how to contact them  at

Title XI Fred Kinne Slides & Presentation – November 1, 2017

Below are the resources from Fred Kinne,

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Instructional Services – November 2017

Applying Literacy Practices in Secondary Classrooms, November 7 at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (participants get Doug Fisher’s  Visible Learning in the Secondary Classroom)

Social Studies Standards Training

Secondary Teachers, November 8 & 9 at Ottumwa AEA

Elementary Teachers, November 29 & December 15 at Burlington AEA

Administrators Awareness Session facilitated by DE Consultant Stefanie Wager,

November 28, 12:30 to 3:00 pm (after Curriculum Network)

Intervention Training, November 14 & 15, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm

at Albia, RE039092151802

at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, RE039099991801

at Burlington, RE039092151801

Principals’ Network, Nov 20 at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

Secondary 8:30 to 11:30 am

Elementary 12:15 to 3:15 pm 

Curriculum Network

November 27 at Ottumwa

November 28 at Burlington, FASTBridge Math Webinar

Science Standards for Administrators & Instructional Coaches, Part 2,

November 17 at Ottumwa

SOAR Training

SOAR MS Math Intervention materials, Ratio & Proportion

November 16, 17, & December 14 at Burlington AEA, contact your math consultant for registration link

Early Childhood

Early Childhood Network December 13, 9-3 FACC

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Media, Technology & Science – November 2017

Science Standards for Administrators & Instructional Coaches, Part 2, – November 17 at Ottumwa

December 5 – Tech Coordinator Meeting (Rescheduled from Nov 21), 9:30am – Noon. Ottumwa AEA
Topic:  Cyber Threats, Incident Response and Breach Reporting

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Special Education – November 2017

Due Process Decision and Impact Upon Current Special Education Evaluation Practice

This summer, a decision by an Iowa administrative law judge (ALJ) called into question aspects of Iowa’s procedures for determining how students qualify for special education.  The ALJ confirmed many of our evaluation practices.  However, the ALJ had issues with the practice of a disability being contingent upon the existence of a significant or severe discrepancy and the definition of special education that we employ in our evaluations and its connection to general education capacity.

On September 26, 2017, the Iowa Department of Education (DE) provided notification to the AEA directors of special education that they filed an appeal of the ALJ’s decision.  They also informed us of the issues in the case and the implications for practice.  Even though the DE appealed the case, the decisions made by the ALJ are in effect until an appeal decision is made or the case is resolved.  Please read the letter from the DE in its entirety for more information.

Since that time, the state directors of special education have been working together to determine what this means for our evaluation process as a state and how we collectively will improve our practices. I have begun to work with our staff to build their understanding of the A.W. case and the implications of the ALJ’s decision.  I will continue to work with them on how we will improve our evaluation practices to match the guidance given by the DE.  

Please know that we are committed to serving the needs of our students, families, and schools.  In all situations, our goal is to promote student success.  We will work diligently to appropriately identify those students with disabilities who need special education from those who do not.  We will also work to accurately identify what students need in order to be successful, whether that be through special education services or not.

As your AEA, we will continue to provide you with updates related to the ALJ’s decision and will inform you of related learning opportunities that will be made available to you and your staff.  We will work to address all concerns brought to our attention and we are committed to partnering with you, our local schools, and with the DE and parents as we improve our evaluation practices.  As always, we encourage you to contact your regional director with any questions or concerns. It takes the effort of all of us to meet the many challenges involved in student success.

Special Education Director Network

Special Education Director Network meetings will occur three times throughout the school year.  Special Education Directors, building administrators, and special education coaches are welcome to attend to learn more about current issues in special education.  Meeting dates and locations are listed below.  Register at


  • Sept 27 1:00 – 3:30
  • Dec 7 1:00 – 3:30
  • April 11 1:00 – 3:30


  • Sept 28 1:00 – 3:30
  • Dec 8 8:30 – 11:00
  • April 12 1:00 – 3:30
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