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Afterschool/Extended Learning

Iowa’s landmark 2013 education reform package makes it possible to provide extra support to the state’s highest-needs schools, based on the share of students learning English as a second language and socioeconomic status, among other factors. Funding may be used for extended learning time programs and other ways to better support instruction and raise achievement. Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad has recommended spending $10 million for selected high-needs schools for 2015-16.

World Languages

To promote global competence, each of Iowa’s three state universities – the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa – has general education/liberal arts core graduation requirements that include either a foreign language and/or the study of western/non-western cultures requirement.  In addition, the universities offer a number of academic programs focused on global studies, e.g., a Global Health Studies certificate, a B.A. in International Studies, a B.A. in Global Resource Systems, and study abroad programs and international internships, as well as multi-cultural institutes and centers.  The three universities also offer distance education programs in China, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany, Egypt, and other countries.

In recognition of its ongoing commitment to educational exchange between the United States and China, the University of Iowa recently was chosen as one of eight signature partners of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, a national effort designed to increase and diversify the number of American students studying abroad in China.

Iowa has many independent colleges and universities, many of which have robust foreign language programs and international exchange programs – for example Grinnell College’s “Chinese and Japanese Department.”

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

All Iowa teacher preparation programs support their students in institution-wide international opportunities. The programs tailor the student support to align with teacher preparation program goals and learning. Opportunities range from several days of service to semester-long study abroad programs. Experiences take place on almost every continent, with service opportunities in South America, Central America, Africa and Asia. Study-abroad opportunities include these areas and many countries in Europe.
Many of the teacher preparation programs conduct international opportunities designed for teacher and administrator candidates. Programs that have courses for several weeks in January, known as J-terms, often include a course that provides candidates with international experience and learning. Programs also conduct service-based international trips in the summers, over spring or winter breaks, or as components of semester-long courses. At least half of Iowa teacher preparation institutions support students to complete half or all of their student teaching in schools in other countries.

Iowa’s education system offers global education opportunities for teachers through agreements between the Iowa Department of Education and two countries:
1) The Teaching in Taiwan program offers Iowa elementary teachers the opportunity to teach in Taiwanese schools for one academic year through an agreement with the Ministry of Education in the Republic of China (Taiwan).
2) The Visiting Teachers from Spain program helps Iowa school districts fill vacant Spanish teaching positions with highly qualified Spanish educators for up to three years. This program is provided through an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain.

Workforce Development

A key step in developing a globally competitive workforce is giving all students a globally competitive education. That’s the goal of Iowa’s historic 2013 education reform package, which the Iowa Legislature passed with broad, bipartisan support. The reforms create the most extensive teacher leadership system in the nation, which will be fully implemented by the 2016-17 school year. Better utilizing the expertise of many of Iowa’s best teachers in new leadership roles will improve instruction and raise student achievement. Those roles include instructional coaches and mentors who analyze data, fine tune lesson plans, and co-teach in the classroom. About 25 percent of Iowa’s teachers eventually will fill various teacher leadership roles.

Other initiatives include the Iowa Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Advisory Council, which was established in 2011 with the overarching goal of boosting student interest and achievement in STEM subjects; the Skilled Iowa Initiative, which includes the opportunity to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate; and new apprenticeship and job training programs to both assure Iowans have outstanding career opportunities and to build a more robust talent pipeline for Iowa employers. Further, a growing number of Iowa high schools (e.g., Waukee High School’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies) are increasing connectivity with area employers to give students real-world experience to help build high-demand skills.


Iowa sets its own high state academic standards with the goal of preparing students to succeed in a fast-changing, global, knowledge-based economy. A review cycle for the state academic standards is required by Executive Order 83, signed in October 2013.


World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities (Davenport-Bettendorf)

University of Iowa International Programs


Linda Fandel
Education Policy Advisor
Office of Gov. Terry E. Branstad

Global Competence Resources

Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent.

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