Branstad hit on his familiar themes of making teacher salary and career options the centerpiece of his educational agenda in the upcoming legislative session. The governor also said he wants to see an expansion of online learning opportunities, tuition reimbursement for students who take on tough-to-fill career majors and make sure that student achievement is part of teacher evaluations.
The governor was light on details — those are expected to come out after his Condition of the State address next week — but said business groups not only can, but need to push for education reform.
“The quality of our education system will determine the quality of the state’s future work force,” Branstad said.
Branstad spoke to more than 150 business and education officials during the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Summit for Education.
The keynote speaker was Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education who studies and synthesizes data related to primary, secondary and higher education.
Busteed praised Branstad’s efforts to create different career tracks for teachers, which Busteed said is one way to make work more rewarding for people.
Busteed also criticized an over-reliance on standardized tests, which he can be valuable, but should make up only one-third of the overall measure of a student’s success.
“There’s actually a negative correlation between standardized testing and entrepreneurship,” Busteed said as he pointed to one of several data slides he used for his presentation.
Department of Education Director Jason Glass said the administration hasn’t emphasized standardized tests.
“We’ve emphasized better tests,” he said. “I think Brandon is clear that standardized assessments are useful and they have a purpose, but they also have limitations. We recognize that.”