Education & Workforce Readiness - Iowa Business Council

Education & Workforce Readiness

Principles

The Iowa Business Council believes the best preK-16 education system for the state will:

  • spur student achievement in key subject areas like math, science, civics, reading, financial literacy, problem solving, creative thinking, team building, cultural awareness, and foreign language
  • promote excellence and ethics in all aspects of performance and moral character strengths needed for 21st Century skills, e.g., effort, diligence, work ethic, positive attitude, self-discipline, honesty, respect, dependability, integrity
  • encourage and facilitate professional development for teachers and merit-based assessment of their performance
  • provide sustainable funding resources for other value-added areas such as teacher compensation, reductions in student tuition, and certified early childhood education for all children
  • drive administrative efficiency throughout
  • enhance a meaningful lifelong learning experience

Background

The ability of Iowa business to succeed in the intensely competitive environment of the world marketplace will depend on the skills and knowledge of its workforce.  Continued movement toward a technology driven economy has created a critical need for Iowa's workers of the future to be proficient in math, science, reading, comprehension, and other disciplines.  Quality teachers and a strong education system are paramount to building the future workforce base.  It is also essential to have healthy and vibrant postsecondary education institutions that promote research and development, catalyze innovation, and incent commercialization while supplying the state with the intellectual capital necessary for a knowledge-based economy.

Areas of Focus

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)
Iowa faces a serious math and science teacher shortage.  Iowa students of math and science are not keeping up with their peers in other states, let alone those of other developed nations.  Many Iowa businesses face a critical shortage of engineers, scientists, and technology workers.  The Iowa Business Council supports key STEM initiatives to increase the number of students and teachers entering the science, technology, engineering, and math professions, such as:

Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council. 
Created in July 2011 by Executive Order 74, the Governor's STEM Advisory Council is a partnership of business, government, and education leaders from across the state convening to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and innovation while better preparing Iowa's young people and the state's economy for the future.  The Council is co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Vermeer Corporation Chair & CEO Mary Andringa.  The Advisory Council has identified targeted areas that support the goals and priorities in Executive Order 74, Addressing the most pressing challenges facing STEM education in the state.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW)
PLTW is a national program forming partnerships among public schools, higher education, and the business sector, engaging students in a hands-on, real-world, project-based learning to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from our colleges and universities.

Corridor Stem Initiative (CSI)
CSI is focused on generating new interest and creating enthusiasm among students and teachers for STEM-oriented curricula and related careers in Iowa, with the ultimate goal of making Iowa the premier state for delivering a quality STEM education. 

STEM Assessments
A timely and effective method of academic assessment is fundamental to knowing whether a student's learning is progressing to meet state and national standards.  The Business Council supports implementing a balanced and comprehensive assessment plan that adequately measures the essential concepts and skill sets embedded within the Iowa Core Curriculum.  The assessment program should provide mechanisms to manage and analyze data and communicate with key stakeholders regarding progress in a timely manner.  Professional development will be needed to help educators build capacity in appropriate assessment use and analysis. 

Continued Rollout of Early Childhood Education Systems
Access to quality early childhood education should be available to parents of all Iowa children.  Scientific research strongly suggests that children who begin school with cognitive abilities and skill sets that lag behind their peers are never fully able to close the gap regardless of the depth and degree of remedial efforts.  Striking disparities in what children know and can do is evident well before kindergarten.  Differences are strongly associated with social and economic circumstances and predictive of subsequent academic performance.  The availability of high quality early childhood education for all children results in long-term positive outcomes and cost savings by  virtue of improved school performance, lower dropout rates, and increased lifelong earning potential

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