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Urban Initiatives

Promising Practices

The Urban Education Network member districts educate nearly 40% of the students in Iowa schools, including 60.4% of Iowa’s students of color, 45.1% of Iowa’s students eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch, and 62.9% of Iowa non-English speaking students. At the 2014 UEN Annual Meeting, the following programs were presented by UEN school districts, showcasing best practices and creating conversations around various approaches being used to meet student needs.

Click here to see the programs.

Early Childhood

In 2002, the Urban Education Network of Iowa (UEN) in partnership with Charles Bruner, Director of Child and Family Policy Center organized an "Achievement Gap" study committee to examine trend data related to the growing achievement gap. 
The UEN was aware that Iowa, like other states was experiencing significant achievement gaps between poor and non-poor students, between schools with high percentages and low percentage of poor students, and among different racial and ethnic groups.  The charge of the committee was to review relevant data on the achievement gap in Iowa and develop an action plan and priorities in response to
this examination.  As part of their work, the committee also reviewed successful efforts in Iowa and across the country to close the gap.

Through the work of the committee, the UEN determined that significant reduction
in the achievement gap would require:  school and community partnerships, a
focus upon k-12 educational standards, and a comprehensive early care, health
and education system for children birth to five.  Such an early childhood system would ensure that all children have the opportunity to begin school "ready to learn."  The UEN of Iowa found that currently too many of Iowa's children are entering school
with untreated conditions affecting their physical well-being and motor development,
social and emotional challenges, and a lack of language development and cognitive and general knowledge. 

To address these issues, the UEN agreed to partner with the Iowa Empowerment Stakeholders and the Iowa Department of Health in their work under a Smart
Start Technical Assistance grant and a Maternal and Child Health Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems planning grant to develop a single, comprehensive plan
an early childhood system.

As part of this system development work, The Early Childhood Iowa (the overall planning group) created a framework containing six vital components to oversee
implementation of the system.  Further development of the scope and work of the components is occurring through work groups formed for each:
    *Parent, Family and Community Engagement
    *Quality Services and Programs
    *Professional Development
    *Accountability for Results
    *Governance, Planning and Administration
    *Resources and Funding

 Middle School

 Following the advice of UEN Superintendents in 2004-2005, the Urban Education Network developed a series of seminars for middle school principals to take a closer look at some of the unique challenges of this level and effective ways to address them.  Throughout both the state and nation, middle level education came under increasing scrutiny due to falling test scores and concern for creating developmentally responsive environments for early adolescent learners.

Planning of the seminars included an examination of the current condition of Iowa urban level education, and presentations focused on information and perspectives to guide further conversation.  Three seminars were held during which participates engaged in guided conversation relating to middle level education. (See middle school principals' attachments)

In the Spring of 2006, the publication, "Breaking Ranks in the Middle" was released and has become the focus of continued study by UEN middle level administrators during the 2006-07 school year.

Middle School Principals' Seminar/Power Points:

Exemplary Middle Schools.  pp
Learning Support Presentation - UEN2.25.05.ppt
Making the Case-Oct. 04.ppt
Support for Middle School Teams.ppt
Trends and IA Schools.ppt

 Redefinition of High School

Student achievement continues to be the UEN's top priority for the 2001-2003 biennium. With all the clamor regarding the quality of public education, student achievement, safety and a host of other issues, it seems timely and appropriate for the UEN to take a long, hard and deep look at the high school as we know it today.

High school has been addressed by the secondary education directors from the eight member districts with support from the UEN office and external technical assistance. The work was introduced in the spring of 2000. A final report was presented to the membership at their April, 2001 meeting. The work is comprehensive in nature and includes among other topics, the review of graduation credits, curricular offerings, class periods, length of the school day and year, management and delivery systems.

Taking the initiative to study such a significant and critical area of public education provides the UEN member districts a "third party" review and support system as they individually address the specifics to strengthen student achievement and high school in particular.

This challenging initiative is offered as a supportive mechanism to the Urban Education Network member district as they address the priority issue of student achievement. Copies of the report can be obtained through the UEN office.

The Redfinition of High School Report

Redefinition of High School--A Vision for Iowa

This 128 page comprehensive report is packaged to be as utilitarian as possible. It can function as a single, complete document or as twelve separate subsections, each directly relating to a specific priority area. Readers are encouraged to reference the extensive bibliographies, including Web sites, to access the breadth and depth of the topic (s) under consideration. The content and bibliographies combined offer each school district thorough information and data that can and will serve them well. Even though the focus of this report is Iowa high schools, the information generated is applicable to high schools everywhere. An executive summary is also provided for your convenience.

Please make this document work for you. The Urban Education Network of Iowa is pleased with this effort and wishes the very best to all who strive to expand the teaching and learning opportunities for Iowa high school students. If you would like or need additional information, please contact us.





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