Survey shows broad support for education changes, Branstad says

Most agree that student achievement has stagnated in last decade

A survey of participants in an education summit held last summer showed broad agreement that Iowa's school system needs an overhaul, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday as he built his case for education changes he'll propose in the next legislative session.

"There is a clear consensus that Iowa's education system should be elevated," Branstad said at his weekly news conference.

The governor sponsored an education summit meeting last summer that brought together teachers, parents, administrators and school board members. He sent a survey to 1,600 of those attending and got responses from 598.

Branstad said more than 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that student performance has stagnated over the past decade, and major changes are needed. He said the survey results give him momentum to propose big changes to Iowa's school system when lawmakers convene next month.

"There is consensus that Iowa's school system should be elevated to among the best in the world," Branstad said

Branstad will likely propose tougher standards for teacher education and changes to student evaluations. He said details will be released before lawmakers convene on Jan. 9.

Other survey results showed that 85 percent agreed that the state should be more selective in admitting students into teacher preparation, and another 73 percent said student performance should be a factor in evaluating teachers. A majority also agreed that 11th graders should all be given college entrance exams, and agreed to restrictions on promoting third-graders who haven't demonstrated reading skills.

After last summer's education summit, Branstad proposed an overhaul to Iowa's education system, including a tiered system for teachers. The plan started with beginning teachers and progressed through master teachers, with pay linked to classroom performance.

After meetings throughout the state on the package, Branstad said he would delay seeking legislative approval of the teacher pay plan for a year.

Branstad said Monday that more work was needed to convince educators to support the teacher pay plan."That is not being abandoned," the governor said. "We said this is going to require more study. There's a lot of questions and misunderstanding."

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