DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds said two new education reports issued Tuesday indicate that Iowa's Teacher Leadership and Compensation system is progressing with most K-12 school districts meeting their goals and educators reporting improvements in classroom instruction and professional environments.

An end-of-year report showed three-quarters of school districts met their teacher leadership goals in the 2016-17 school year, with 85 percent meeting a goal to attract and retain teachers and 84 percent meeting goals for teacher collaboration and professional growth. Half of districts met their student achievement goals, which are based on a variety of measures including state and local assessments, according to education officials.

"Iowa transformed the teaching profession for the better," said Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise, who attended a news conference where he, Reynolds and others discussed the results. With a $157.4 million annual cost, Iowa has the most extensive teacher leadership system in the nation, with more than 25 percent of teachers in leadership roles.

Statewide, the share of students in kindergarten through third grade who met or surpassed the state benchmark on screening assessments in reading grew 3 percentage points in the 2016-17 school year, following a 4 percentage-point gain the year before, Reynolds noted.

"It is encouraging that Iowa is making significant progress to improve the reading skills of children in kindergarten through third grade," Reynolds said. "Still, there is work to do, and our administration will continue to look for ways to ensure Iowa's teacher leadership system is even more effective."

In a second report, an external evaluation conducted by American Institutes for Research, Iowa teachers and administrators reported the teacher leadership system is effective in improving instruction, particularly in the 115 districts that joined the teacher leadership system in the first two years.

The external evaluation gauged the early progress of Iowa's system in the areas of teacher leadership, support for teachers, teacher collaboration, and perceived outcomes. The evaluation was based on surveys, interviews and focus groups, as well as data.

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