Great Prairie AEA joins “THE PROMISE OF IOWA” Campaign

At their February meeting, the Board of Directors of Great Prairie AEA passed a resolution in support of “The Promise of Iowa” campaign. The goal of the statewide campaign is to focus attention on the future of Iowa public school students and to rally support for public education in Iowa.

Board President Vicki Stephenson said the board’s support of “The Promise of Iowa” campaign is an important step in raising awareness statewide about the value of public education in shaping the next generation of Iowa leaders, workers, and citizens.

The “Promise” campaign is being coordinated statewide by the Iowa Association of School Boards, a nonprofit organization representing the more than 1900 Iowa citizens serving on locally elected school boards. For more information, visit “The Promise of Iowa”

Van Delivery Schedule

There is no Van Delivery this week, March 20-24, due to Spring Break. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

There will also be no service:

  • Easter Monday – April 17, 2017
  • Memorial Day – May 29, 2017

Last Delivery for Schools: the week of May 15-18, 2017
Last Pickup for Schools: the week of May 22-25, 2017

Professional Development – April 2017


Check our Course Catalog for updates and more PD opportunities at

Iowa schools’ reading efforts are making progress

Click here to view original release from the Iowa Department of Education.

New brief shows more students on track to be proficient readers by the end of third grade

DES MOINES – A statewide effort by Iowa schools to catch and correct reading problems in students early on is showing progress, according to a new policy brief released today by the Iowa Department of Education.

Nearly 9,000 students in kindergarten through third grade who had fallen short of benchmarks in reading in the fall of 2015 met or surpassed benchmarks by the spring of 2016, an increase of 4.2 percentage points. Increases in the highest-growth school districts ranged from 19.5 to 32.2 percentage points.

Iowa Department of Education leaders today announced the results of the policy brief and celebrated the growth and progress in early literacy statewide. They were joined by Jane Lindaman, superintendent of the Waterloo Community School District, Tynne Sulser, a third-grade teacher in the Centerville Community School District, and Mark Crady, who represented Iowa’s area education agencies.

“Iowa’s schools are focused on preparing students for success in high school and beyond, and that success begins with developing strong reading skills,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “These findings show Iowa schools are making strides in their work to ensure all students are proficient readers by the end of third grade. This type of steady growth over time will translate into thousands of students getting on track in reading.”

While the ability to read is important at all levels, research shows third grade is an important gateway grade, when children transition from “learning to read” and begin “reading to learn.” Early reading difficulties have been linked to long-term consequences, such as dropping out of school.

Iowa’s reading scores on state and national assessments have stagnated for years, and nearly one in four third-grade students is not proficient in reading.

The Iowa Legislature passed a law in 2012 that focuses on making sure all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. A key part of the law is an early warning system to help educators identify and intervene with students in kindergarten through third grade who are at risk for reading failure. Through the system, schools screen students in kindergarten through third grade three times a year – fall, winter and spring – to identify children at risk, to provide additional reading instruction and to monitor their progress.

Iowa’s early warning system was implemented through a partnership between the Iowa Department of Education, area education agencies, and school districts.

Of 398 public school districts and nonpublic schools using the early warning system, 60.8 percent (242) saw an increase in the percentage of students in kindergarten through third grade at or above benchmark from fall 2015 to spring 2016. Fifty-three school districts showed double-digit percentage increases in results from fall to spring.

Of Iowa’s urban school districts, the Waterloo Community School District demonstrated the largest growth, with a 14.6 percentage-point increase from fall 2015 to spring 2016.

“We are now better equipped than at any point in time to identify which students are on track and which ones aren’t, and we have tools to spring into action with instruction that works,” Lindaman said. “Knowledge is power, and when we know what students need, we are much more effective at providing the right interventions.”

The growth and progress from Iowa’s screening assessments are expected to translate to large-scale standardized tests in reading, such as the state assessment or the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), once all students have taken them.

Only about a quarter of students who have been screened through the early warning system have also taken the state assessment, which is administered to students for the first time in third grade. NAEP is taken for the first time in fourth grade.

For more information about Iowa’s early literacy law, visit the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

Davis County Student Finds Success with Assistive Technology

Ellie Hamilton, Assistive Technology Specialist

Stock Photo. No photo available of Wendy.

Stock Photo. No photo available of Wendy.

Wendy is a third grader at Davis County Elementary school in Bloomfield Iowa. Wendy is Amish. She has Cerebral Palsy (CP) and is in a wheelchair. Cerebral Palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth (Mayo Clinic, 2016).

What AT Equipment is being used:

Wendy is using a clock communicator where words are attached and Wendy can choose a word using the Gooseneck wobble switch. The Davis County team completed the SETT (student, environment, tasks, & tools) form. Next, they did a trial with the the clock communicator and gooseneck wobble switch by borrowing the items from the AEA Media Center. The team took data and determined the items were a good fit for Wendy.

After documenting the assistive technology items for Wendy on the IEP (individualized education plan) on tab B and tab F (AT IEP Guidance from the procedures manual ), the Davis County School District purchased two clock communicators and one wobble switch for her. One clock communicator stays downstairs in the special education setting and the other stays upstairs in the general education setting. Wendy uses both her hand and her head to activate the wobble switch. She decides which works best for her when she is using the clock communicator and wobble switch.

Wendy is also using the Alternative pencil. Her special education teacher uses this resource to complete the requirements for ELI (Early Literacy Implementation). Wendy needed a tool with access to all twenty-six letters of the alphabet and for alternate assessment.  The Alternative pencil assists Wendy to have access to the letters to begin spelling and writing words. She can identify her written name and knows all of her letters and letter sounds.

What was she doing before?

Wendy was using an informal eye gaze with two choices before trying new assistive technology tools. Her paraeducator and teachers held up two cards and she would make a choice with her eyes. The team notes this method was faster than waiting for her to activate her switch.

When she uses the switch Wendy is more motivated, independent, and has more than two choices. Only having two choices limited Wendy academically and with her peers. 

Now Wendy can sequence, make more than one choice at a time, participate, and interact with her peers. Wendy has demonstrated her assistive technology tools for her classmates so they know how to communicate with her.

Thank you to Wendy’s dedicated team!


  • Mrs. Charlotte Followwill, Special Educator
  • Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Thompson, Regular Education Teachers

Support Staff: Therese Sharp, para-educator

AEA Staff:

  • Joe Hudson, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Marty Hudson, Occupational Therapist
  • Christine Reigel, Speech-Language Pathologist
    Tammy Greiner, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
  • Amanda Steinbach, Physical Therapist
  • Melissa Grooms, Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Robin Larrington, Special Education Consultant
  • Kibben Rumohr, School Social Worker

Professional Development – March 2017

Register now for one of the many Professional Development Opportunities from GPAEA. View all in our Course Catalog.

Bridge View Center Hosts First Annual Family Fest on Saturday, March 11

Bridge View Center in collaboration with partners Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa Community Schools, the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, and United Way of Wapello County present the first Annual Family Fest to be held on Saturday, March 11 from 10:00am – 4:00pm. The show is free and open to the public.  All families are encouraged to attend.

PrintDownload PDF Poster: family-fest_11x17-poster_stem

Click here to view the press release

Step up your game: Register for Educator Quality Conference

Originally posted at Department of Education

Join teachers, teacher leaders, mentors and administrators April 6 from across the state to learn and plan for students’ future successes and achievements.

The conference will be held at Simpson College in Indianola, just south of Des Moines.

The conference will engage and unite educators from administrators to the classroom teacher. Topics covered include a focus on unifying educators, and examine the roles of positions from Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) to English language learner teachers (ELL).

First- through third-year teachers are encouraged to attend, in addition to TLC and ELL educators. Schools are encouraged to bring teams.

Register today, deadline is March 17.

The Cornerstone – February 2017


Click on a link or scroll down to view all posts. Enjoy!

It’s Still About the Relationship

This post was shared with GPAEA Staff, but is a good message for all educators – “be proud of your profession.”

Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator

I want to comment on all the activity around the changes in Iowa’s collective bargaining laws, better known as Chapter 20.  I had the opportunity to speak with many of our staff last Friday a…

Source: It’s Still About the Relationship

Iowa needs teachers of the deaf

The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa School for the Deaf recognize the challenges of recruiting individuals who hold the rare endorsement of deaf education. The “Grow Your Own” program is designed to encourage licensed teachers to pursue this endorsement and help fill critical shortages in this specialized field. Learn more at

Download PDF: Grow Your Own