Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator
Like local school districts, each AEA in Iowa undergoes an accreditation process every five years and Great Prairie AEA will be completing that process in the coming weeks. The process actually takes two years to complete, with the first year consisting of the preparing for and conducting of the formal site visit. Many of our local districts were instrumental in helping us with the site visit phase last year, providing teachers, administrators, and parents for our focus group interviews. This year, we have been using the results of that accreditation report, as well as multiple other data sources, to produce our Comprehensive Improvement Plan or CIP. This is an exciting and critical time for the agency because the CIP charts our course for the coming years. It is our strategic plan, the plan that will guide us as we endeavor to support and lead Iowa’s education community.
The Process – This year, we have been working as an agency on the planning phase or CIP phase of the process. The first step in the CIP phase of accreditation is to inventory all current AEA services. After this comprehensive inventory of services, we look at a number of data sources from within and outside the agency: We review the contents of both AEA and local district accreditation reports. We analyze the student achievement data and CSIP goals of all of our districts. We also analyze the qualitative and quantitative data from the AEA satisfaction surveys taken annually by educators in the region. Finally, we look at the current educational context in the state by reviewing the priorities stated in the AEA Compact http://bit.ly/1mHvlW4 and by reviewing recent state and federal legislation that either is impacting or will be impacting our local school districts. From this needs assessment and analysis phase, two guiding documents are developed. The first is the actual 5-year action plan that establishes our actions and priorities going forward. The second and equally important document is the professional development plan that will map out the internal (AEA) and external (LEA) learning that will need to take place in order for us to execute our plan and to successfully support our districts.