Greetings, Ryan Wise, Director of IA Department of Education, David Tilly, Deputy Director--

The following  post was sent to you  previously by superior educator, Dr. Sue Atkinson.  Iowalive fully endorses it!! 


Iowalive  A growing network of  volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa

Greetings, Ryan Wise, Director of IA Department of Education, David Tilly, Deputy Director and all—

You  requested and  informed Iowans they can provide feedback on the Second Draft of Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan dated 6-16-17, by email to .   Here it is as you requested.


The ‘Plan’ is typical of previous plans that failed.  It’s GUIDING PRINCIPLES are flawed!  It cited activities, verbs that can’t be measured, rather than results--nouns that can be measured.   So it is results less and useless.   And it failed to mention, much less address, educator’s adamantly flawed belief it is the students who are flawed, not the schools.   ESSA has stopped educators from blaming students publicly, so they do it privately and in practice.  And this has been proven time and again by past educator school fixes that failed and resulted in no educator lessons learned.  Special Education is a painful example of such a child abusive failure.  Special Education should only be for those students who have been diagnosed by a doctor with a disability – IT SHOULD NOT BE FOR STUDENTS THE SCHOOL HAS FAILED TO EDUCATE – but Iowa educators continue to place students  in Special Ed rather than remediating them by figuring out what it was the schools did wrong in the first place.


A close review of the following 6  IOWA’S ESSA GUIDING PRINCIPLES on page viii showed it was useless educator babble as usual and a complete waste of time to read more.  The PRINCIPALS cited activities, verbs, saying we will:  implement, communicate, proceed with, assert, work, and emphasize.   And you know activities (verbs) cannot be measured.  Results (nouns) like test scores and student achievement, can be measured and they were not mentioned, again as usual for educator babble.  When the PRINCIPLES of a plan are so flagrantly flawed, it is a SCAM and a waste of time to read it!!  It ought to be junked and replaced with a plan that will at least state and achieve measurably improved results, how they will be achieved, when they will be achieved and at  what cost or savings!!!  It would also state a recovery plan for students if it fails, as all previous ‘plans’ have failed.  Previous plans failed because Iowa educators continue to believe students are defective rather than the teaching.  Students caught in a curriculum change from one of memorization to one of effectively teaching concepts to all learning styles require effective remediation but Iowa schools have failed to this, preferring to avoid accountability by blaming students for the situation.  The foundational principles listed in the 2nd ESSA draft for Iowa clearly show no recognition of the problem of failing to accept responsibility for the situation that brought government intervention.

The foundational principles listed below served to guide our approach to the development of Iowa’s ESSA Plan. The Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) is committed to:

1. Implementing an Inclusive Process. We will implement an inclusive process that balances various internal and external stakeholder inputs, reinforces priority outcomes, and demonstrates value for our partnerships with these stakeholders.

2. Prioritizing Frequent Communication. We will communicate frequently with internal staff members, the field (including parents and the public) and state leadership.

3. Supporting Iowa’s Context. We will proceed with the development of Iowa’s ESSA Plan while federal regulations are developed. We will ensure our plan supports any federal regulations developed while staying true to Iowa’s specific needs and context.

4. Maintaining the Intent and Spirit of ESSA. We will assert that Iowa’s interpretation of ESSA is what guides the development of our ESSA State Plan.

5. Maximizing District Flexibility. We will work to maximize flexibility for Iowa’s school districts.

6. Ensuring Equity for Historically Disadvantaged Students. We will emphasize equity in results across all subgroups identified in ESSA: students with disabilities, students who are economically disadvantaged, students from diverse ethnic and racial groups, English Learners, students of military connected families, as well as students who are migrant, homeless or in foster care.


Some education theories have stayed around far too long.  This link provides an overview of some:

Two theories used in Iowa for far too long, with one, Cognitive Psychology,  still in use are:


In Iowa, cognitive psychology did not move completely away from behaviorism, and that continues to be reflected in the 2nd draft of Iowa’s response to ESSA.  Students continue to be blamed for the failure of training teachers to effectively teach concepts – and using these effective techniques to effectively remediate.

According to the latest report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, all but four of Iowa’s teacher training programs fail to include all five of the concepts known as the science of reading.  The University of Iowa finally moved up from the two reported in the previous reports to 5 with this last one (likely because the Iowa reading Center is attached to it), but that does not mean they know how to effectively teach these five concepts – preferring to falsely blame students who do not learn as having something wrong with them.

Teaching math still has a tendency to rely on memorization rather than effectively teaching the process to all learning styles.  Understanding the process is more important than the quick memorization of math facts (justified by too many educators as necessary to be able to spend more time on higher level problems).  Understanding the process at all levels is important to properly understanding the result, an indication of critical thinking skills.

Educators are failing to demonstrate higher level critical thinking skills in taking responsibility for achieving results – thus demonstrating accountability according to ESSA.


Director Wise bogusly claims Iowa is in an excellent position to succeed with this ‘Plan’.  But he didn’t, and couldn’t, cite any past plan that succeeded in improving anything!!  And he didn’t cite anything that was learned from the following school fix failures—which all to date have cost over $200 billion!!.  Neither did he address the fact that Iowa students are falling in rankings on NAEP as other states figure out what they have been doing wrong.




 Sue Atkinson, PhD

P. O. Box 301

Baxter IA 50028