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The Iowa State Board of Education (State Board) works with the Iowa Department of Education (Department) to provide oversight, supervision and support for the state education system that includes all public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies (AEAs), community colleges, and teacher preparation programs.
The duties of the State Board include:
- Adopting rules for carrying out the responsibilities of the Iowa Department of Education
- Establishing standards and procedures as well as reviewing and approving educator preparation programs
- Hearing parent and guardian appeals of decisions by local school boards
- Adopting content standards applicable to all kindergarten through 12th grade students in accredited Iowa schools
- Accrediting school districts and community colleges
- Reviewing and approving the budgets of area education agencies and community colleges
- Approving or denying charter school applications
- Responding to concerns and input from Iowa citizens throughout the year
- Advocating on major educational issues to the executive and legislative branches
- Analyzing the data outlined in the Annual Condition of Education Report
Vision, Mission, Priorities and Goals, and Strategic Plan
Building an excellent education system that empowers all students to achieve their full potential.
Ensuring all students experience a world-class education.
Priorities and Goals
The State Board has developed clear and detailed priorities to guide their work. Each year the State Board develops their priorities and goals that they will focus on during the coming year. These may be emerging policy issues that the board wants to study, or they may be policies that the board wants to advocate for or support in some specific way. These priorities guide the work of the board.
Ensuring Equity in Education
- Goal: All preservice programs will ensure preservice educators are prepared to teach in inclusive and diverse PK-12 classrooms and community colleges.
- Goal: All school districts and community colleges will ensure continuing education for in-service PK-12 educators, college faculty, and administrators to achieve equitable outcomes.
- Goal: All school districts and community colleges will attract, recruit, retain, and promote educators who represent the student population they serve.
- Goal: All school districts will develop partnerships with underserved students and families to drive policies, practices, and resources that are equitable to close educational gaps and prepare students for the 21st century workforce.
Eliminating Achievement and Opportunity Gaps
- Goal: All learners will have access to quality early childhood education.
- Goal: All learners will meet or exceed literacy and math benchmarks.
- Goal: All learners will have access to personalized, student-centered learning opportunities that include differentiated interventions and learning opportunities.
- Goal: All teachers will have access and training, in preservice and in-service, to best practices in early literacy instruction, and cultural competency.
Improving Teacher and Leader Preparation
- Goal: All teacher and leader preparation programs in Iowa will be aligned to comprehensive standards and prepare candidates to meet the high expectations of our teacher and leader workforce.
- Goal: All teacher and leader preparation programs in Iowa will develop the competencies candidates need to be culturally responsive to Iowa’s increasingly diverse student population.
- Goal: All educators in Iowa will be prepared to provide effective instruction through both in-person and distance learning formats.
Preparing Learners for Tomorrow’s Workforce
- Goal: All learners will have robust individualized career exploration and planning experiences that enhance career awareness, aspirations, and planning.
- Goal: All learners will have consistent and equitable access to globally competitive career and technical education, work-based learning, and concurrent enrollment opportunities through an efficient, integrated system.
- Goal: All learners will be supported by clear guided educational pathways to further education or employment with stackable credentials and targeted support services provided by community colleges.
- Goal: All learners will successfully navigate career pathways developed through business-driven sector partnerships and obtain the skills and quality postsecondary credentials necessary for a rewarding career that meets current and future business needs.
Creating a Safe, Healthy, and Welcoming Learning Environment
- Goal: All Iowa schools will work with their learners to foster a culture and climate in which they feel safe and supported, and bullying and harassment do not exist.
- Goal: All learners will have access to mental health services and supports in their schools and communities.
- Goal: All schools will create environments that develop social, emotional, and behavioral health.
- Goal: All schools will develop physical health for students through structured school programs (e.g., food and nutrition, physical education, wellness programs, etc.)
Strategic PlanBack to top
The State Board works with the Department to provide oversight, supervision and support for the state education system that includes all public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies (AEAs), community colleges and teacher preparation programs.
The State Board’s mission is to champion excellence for all Iowa students through leadership and service. In order to champion excellence, the State Board developed principles to guide decisions to keep equity embedded in policies and practices and at the forefront of its work. The board acknowledges that removing disparities in the education system is a long-term process, requiring continual efforts that are integral to the success of an equitable Iowa educational system.
The State Board will collaborate and seek the voices of the people it serves.
The following principles guide processes in decision-making and problem-solving with an equity lens:
- Understand, acknowledge and address the history and systems that have led to disparities in education to create a system of belief that all students can succeed
- Every student must have equitable access to rigorous learning opportunities
- Recruitment and retention initiatives of educators that reflect the student population is key to creating an inclusive and equitable school environment
- Collaboration among students, educators, community members, policy members and other stakeholders is central to the success of serving all students in the collective process of creating equitable policies and practices
- Dedicate time, funding and labor resources to address and eliminate disparities
Meeting Dates, Agendas and Minutes
Jan. 11, 2024
Feb. 8, 2024
March 21, 2024
May 9, 2024
June 20, 2024
August 1, 2024
September 12-13, 2024
November 13, 2024
Jan. 12, 2023
Feb. 9, 2023
March 23, 2023
May 4, 2023
June 8, 2023
Aug. 3, 2023
Sept. 14-15, 2023
Nov. 15, 2023
Dec. 4, 2023
2022Back to top
Brooke Axiotis, Vice President
Brooke Axiotis of Des Moines joined the State Board in 2014. She is an attorney at Iowa Workforce Development. She is a member of the Iowa Bar. Her community activities involve the Iowa PBS Board of Directors, the immediate past Chair of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Board of Directors, and Links, Inc. She earned her law degree from Drake University.
Cindy Dietz of Cedar Rapids is the director of state government relations at RTX where she advocates for policies on business operations, workforce and the aerospace industry. Previously, Cindy led many communications functions at Collins Aerospace, an RTX business. She has been a part of Iowa’s STEM initiative, serving on the STEM Advisory Council and as its Interim Executive Director in 2018. Cindy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University and is on the board of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and several local nonprofit organizations.
Cassandra Halls of Carlisle is the President of 2 THE TOP, a business consulting organization that focuses on strategy development, training facilitation, research and analysis for corporations, nonprofits, colleges, universities and governmental agencies. Cassandra holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from William Penn University along with an associate degree from North Iowa Area Community College. She serves on the Greater Carlisle Community Foundation and the Carlisle Friends of the Park and is a member of the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce.
Brian J. Kane
Brian J. Kane of Dubuque was appointed to the State Board in 2020. He is the President, Shareholder and Founder of Kane, Norby & Reddick, P.C. Brian has practiced law for 37 years and is a graduate of Loras College and the University of Iowa College of Law. He is also a CPA. Brian’s legal work is primarily in corporate and business, taxation, real estate and estate and trust planning. Brian has served on many local Catholic school boards of education and has participated as a board member, chair and president of many local charities.
William "Mike" May
William "Mike" May of Spirit Lake was appointed to the State Board in May 2012. He is a retired teacher and owner of Triggs Bay Resort in Arnolds Park. He served as a state representative from 2005-2010 where he was ranking member of the House Education Committee. He received a bachelor's degree from Simpson College and a master's degree from Mankato State College.
Mary Meisterling of Cedar Rapids was appointed to the State Board in March, 2023. She retired from Alliant Energy in early 2022 as a manager supporting business/industry attraction and expansion in the State of Iowa. Mary is a graduate of Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and business administration. She served on the Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Directors from 2002 to 2019, Grant Wood Area Education Agency Board from 2005 to 2018 and STEM Advisory Council from 2014 to 2022.
Nathan Peterson of Iowa City joined the State Board in 2022. Nathan is an attorney focusing primarily on criminal law and is a member of the Iowa Bar. He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Iowa. Nathan is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and is an active member of the American Legion.
John Robbins, President
John Robbins of Iowa Falls joined the State Board in 2020. He retired in 2019 as superintendent of schools in Iowa Falls and Alden after a tenure of 20 years. He was previously a high school principal in Iowa Falls, a secondary principal at CAL (Latimer), and teacher/athletic coach at CAL. Robbins has been actively engaged in school improvement for decades including leading efforts to embed improvement initiatives in his own school districts. Robbins holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University.
Sophia Van Houten, Student Member
Sophia Van Houten of Ida Grove was appointed to serve the State Board of Education as the student member in 2023. Sophia attends OABCIG High School, where she participates in art club, choir, band, musicals, speech and National Honor Society. Sophia also serves as color-guard co-captain, OABCIG Future Business Leaders of America chapter vice president and secretary of quiz bowl. Within the community, Sophia is an active member of the United Methodist Church of Odebolt, part of the Greater Iowa Swim League and USA Swim Club and volunteers for Assisted Living of Holstein by playing the piano.
Each year the Governor appoints a student to serve as a nonvoting member of the Iowa State Board of Education. At the time of application, the student must be a full-time, regularly enrolled tenth or eleventh grade student in an Iowa school district.
Applications are being accepted for the 2024-25 student member of the Iowa State Board of Education. The term of the student member starts May 1, 2024, and ends April 30, 2025. The State Board meets at least seven times during that term, with most meetings taking place in the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines. The deadline for submitting an application with all required documents is March 22, 2024.Back to top