Lead State: Iowa

The archive below summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011. 

Interested in implementation? Learn more about NGSS design and find state and district implementation resources.


Department of Education Director: Brad Buck

Primary Point of Contact: Yvette McCulley — Iowa State Science Supervisor

The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.

Partner Organizations: The Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership; the Iowa STEM Corridor Initiative; Iowa Environmental Literacy Plan; Iowa Academy of Science; Iowa Science Teaching Section; Iowa Space Grant Consortium; Iowa Geographic Alliance; Iowa Association of Naturalists; Iowa Conservation Education Coalition; State Science Leadership Team; Math Science Partnership Grant Principle Investigators and Teachers; Iowa Business Council; Innovative Iowa; and Rockwell Collins.

Background:   Iowa is a local control state in which course requirements are left up to individual districts. All Iowa districts require 3 years of science. Iowa does not mandate specific science courses. Districts can select essential concepts from these standards to be taught within the defined grade level bands. The Iowa Assessments cover science standards at all grade levels, and Iowa End of Course Tests might be used by high schools within districts, however, they are not required. The Iowa Core for Science highlights student inquiry and requires students to become active learners in designing experiments, observing, questioning, and exploring. All district curricula must adhere to these practices. The current Iowa Core in Science was adopted in 2008; however the deadline for implementation is 2014–15. The Governor and Director of Education requested a review of the standards prior to that time, aligning to the  timeline for NGSS and allowing Iowa to redesign its science standards and still meet the implementation deadline of 2014–15.

Commitment:   Iowa has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards and its position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. Iowa conducts numerous events surrounding science standards, assessments, and STEM education, displaying the state’s dedication to science education. Iowa further demonstrates its commitment to science standards reform in its state timeline for review of the 2008 adopted standards before the implementation deadline of 2014–15.

STEM Involvement:    STEM education is of particular interest to Iowa and the state has developed and become involved in numerous initiatives. Representatives from Iowa are attending the National Governors Association’s Learning Lab for Developing State Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Plans  to gain additional insight into STEM education. Iowa has developed the Iowa STEM Strategic Plan Roadmap, endorsed by the Governor, which will guide future STEM initiatives and programs and is comprised of related organizations. The Iowa STEM Corridor Initiative focuses on involving traditionally underrepresented students (females, minorities, and economically disadvantaged students) in STEM education opportunities.  In addition to these programs, Iowa has many alliances and partnerships with organizations focused on STEM topics such as FIRST Robotics, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Lego, Real World Design Challenge, Future Cities, Invention Convention, Hyperstream, Virtual Reality Experimental Program, KidWind, Science & Technology Fair, and IT Olympics, among others. Iowa has also developed programs to encourage teachers to enter STEM fields and created business-school partnership programs, such as the Iowa Teacher-Extern program.

Alliances and Infrastructure:   There is a strong partnership among the organizations that are joining together for the State STEM Strategic Plan Roadmap which will serve as the basis of support for the NGSS work. These include the Iowa Department of Education, Area Education Agency Network, Iowa Academy of Science, the Iowa Science Teaching Section, The Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership, Iowa Space Grant Consortium, Iowa Geographic Alliance, Iowa Association of Naturalists, Iowa Conservation Education Coalition, State Science Leadership Team, Math Science Partnership Grant Principle Investigators and Teachers, and colleges and universities with education majors. This core established network will be helpful to Iowa in adoption of NGSS. Iowa also has businesses committed to supporting science education such as the Iowa Business Council, Innovative Iowa, The Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and numerous other organizations and companies. Iowa provided Achieve with letters of support from Governor Terry E. Branstad, the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership, Rockwell Collins, and the Iowa Academy of Science. The Governor has just convened a group of Iowa citizenry to provide vision for regional STEM networks and scale-up for successful STEM programming.