Legislative Priorities

Policy Goals to Support Student Achievement

Under the dome of the Iowa State Capitol

Des Moines Public Schools wishes to engage legislators and executive branch leaders to identify and implement ways in which changes to state law and/or administrative rules will assist Iowa’s largest provider of public education improve the academic success of our students.

Priorities for DMPS in the 2014 session of the Iowa General Assembly and beyond include:

At Des Moines Public Schools, more than 5,800 students, or almost 18% of enrollment, are English Language Learners, speaking nearly 100 different languages and dialects.

  • Continue support for expanded opportunities for Iowa’s growing population of ELL students.
  • Expand weighted ELL funding for up to a maximum of seven years (beyond the additional fifth year approved by the legislature in 2013) and move Iowa’s weighted ELL funding closer to the national average of .30.
  • Consider a two-tiered weighting system for ELL to acknowledge low-income needs.
  • Create a longitudinal data collection, analysis and reporting system to provide schools, policy makers and agencies with information to help improve ELL outcomes.

Des Moines Public Schools serves a student body that is increasingly diverse by every measure whose needs are not always best served by well-intentioned programs.

  • Increase flexibility in the use of at-risk allowable growth and other state categorical funds.

Des Moines Public Schools serves more than 2,500 preschoolers with both the need and capacity to increase access and expand services.

  • Expand support to Iowa’s four-year old universal preschool program, such as full-day programming and transportation for students impacted by poverty.
  • Make rules and guidelines more consistent between various state-funded early childhood programs.

Des Moines Public Schools offers a wide array of college-credit opportunities for high school students, an important part of our work to help students become college and career ready.

  • Allow public school districts to develop shared programming agreements with Iowa community colleges and/or four-year colleges or universities in Iowa based on what best serves the district’s academic and financial needs.

For more information on state legislation, visit the Iowa General Assembly.


Des Moines Public Schools is a member of the Urban Education Network, which represents the largest school districts in Iowa. Top legislative priorities for UEN in 2014 include:

  • Funding Adequacy:  6% State Percent of Growth - In order to fulfill the goal of regaining Iowa’s number one in the nation education status, the UEN supports the provision of adequate funding, which we know, spent wisely, will prepare our students for success.  The UEN supports a goal to get Iowa’s investment in education to the national average, as measured in per pupil spending, beginning with a commitment of no lower than 6 percent annually for a minimum of three years. Timing of the decision is crucial and must be made in the 2014 session for the 2015-16 school year.
  • Student Mental Health Services - UEN acknowledges that mental health needs are increasing, yet the delivery systems of education for students with mental health challenges as well as services to meet mental health needs both in and out of school are experiencing funding and regulatory challenges.   UEN supports access to mental health services for students and clarity of funding sources and funding responsibilities, particularly for students costly to educate, such as those in residential facilities.
  • Assessment - The UEN supports assessments aligned with the Iowa Core, such as the promise of the computer-adaptive Smarter Balanced tests, including formative and end-of-course assessments, measuring both attainment and growth, with a test that is fair and respected by educators.  We support a college readiness test, such as ACT, for all eleventh-graders. Iowa’s state assessment should be a criterion-referenced assessment that recognizes growth and tests grade-level specific content. While we support the value of norm-referenced assessments, they should not be used for accountability purposes.

To download a complete copy of the UEN legislative agenda, click here.