The purpose of The Center is to develop Iowa’s capacity to leverage learner-centered, personalized, and competency-based ecosystems as pathways to future readiness.

The Center facilitates networks of educators and community-based stakeholders who have a passion for meeting students where they are to co-create rigorous, authentic learning experiences.

The statewide work we support includes

  • Iowa's College and Career Ready Definition

  • Area Education Agency Compact's Postsecondary Success Pledge

  • The Governor's Future Ready Iowa Initiative

  • AEA PREP (Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership)

  • Iowa Digital Learning Plan

Who are we?

The Center is made up of passionate educators and partners from around the state, including those who are members of:

Together we will put students at the center as co-designers and co-owners of their learning; we are a center of resources, expertise, training, and innovation in the area of personalized ecosystems; and we will keep Iowa at the center of the shift to a learner-centered paradigm.

AEA Leadership Council Members.pdf

Get Connected Today

We are a coalition of educators with a Leadership Council that supports local implementation of learner-centered, personalized, and competency-based practices. Members create tools/processes and offer free resources on the website to help make the shifts easier and more sustainable by using current research and innovative designs that model UDL/SDI and current practices in the field of personalized learning. Use the table on the left to get connected with a Leadership Council member in your AEA today!

How might we help your transition to a learner-centered system?

  • Consultation

    • Principles and characteristics of learner-centered ecosystems (classroom and system)

    • Personalized learning, competency-based education (competencies, standards, Universal Constructs, 21st century skills, SEL competencies)

    • School structures (time/schedules, MTSS, Universal Design, PLCs/CTTs, policy, learning management systems)

    • School improvement planning (SAMI/ESSA think-abouts and integration)

    • Portrait of a Graduate development and backward planning for system redesign

  • Training in learner-centered/deeper learning...

    • instructional practices and frameworks (inquiry, value beyond school, proficiency-based, relationships/rigor/relevance)

    • ecosystems (voice, choice, engagement, motivation, purpose, ownership, self-efficacy)

    • methodology: blended learning, project- and problem-based learning, design thinking

    • assessment practices (authentic, performance-based, scaled, co-designed, SEL, data literacy)

  • Personalized, job-embedded, professional learning design with teacher leaders for their teachers’ IPDPs or coaching cycles (data tracking tools, adult learner profiles, personalized playlists, micro-credentials)

  • System-level or teacher-level self-assessments (reflection tools, data analytics and triangulation, action planning)

  • Partnerships across each AEA region and beyond (local, state, and national partnerships)


What we are discovering...

Kirkwood Community College hosted the April 2017 Competency-based Education Collaborative and created this video to share some of what we are discovering about how CBE is changing the face of education:

We Believe

The Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL) released a set of beliefs statements in November of 2019 that speak to what we are discovering and how we might help your transition to a learner-centered system:

  • Competency-based education is a replacement of the systems, structures, and pedagogies of the traditional system.

  • Competency-based education is driven by the equity-seeking need to transform our educational system so all students can and will learn through full engagement and support and through authentic, rigorous learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

  • Equity is a central goal of advancing competency-based education systems.

  • Communities that aspire to achieve equity must work toward implementing all elements of a competency-based education system.

  • All students can learn and must be challenged, believed in, and supported to achieve deep learning aligned with common, high expectations across the education system.

  • Educators need to organize innovative learning environments around the needs of students who learn in different ways and in different time frames.

  • Students need to learn academic knowledge and the skills and dispositions to apply it (such as growth mindset, self-regulation, social-emotional learning, and habits of success).

  • Learning happens anytime and anywhere.

  • Deeper learning is collaborative and socially embedded.

  • Transparency of learning expectations and assessment results is essential for creating a culture of learning and accountability.

Who is exploring personalized learning or competency-based education in Iowa?

The current landscape analysis regarding the efforts of educational institutions and their partners to create student-centered, personalized learning environments is opaque. By having a centralized leadership organization in Iowa, educators will have access to resources, training, and connections across Iowa and throughout the country with the Center’s partnerships with the ILN, CCSSO, and AIR. Additionally, members of the Leadership Council will serve as Leads in Center Satellite hubs, growing local innovation through statewide resources and a community of practice to support continuous improvement. To provide a visual of these interdependencies, the Center will gather implementation data from across the state to create a map for educators to see growth in these areas as well as to network with colleagues, business partners, and communities to foster anytime, anywhere learning with students at the center.

If you do not see your school or district represented on this map, please contact us to let us know about your system!

Note: Stars indicate Iowa CBE Collaborative districts; teal flags indicate personalized and/or competency-based practices are occurring in at least one school in these districts; green flags with the book icon indicate IHE leadership emerging in personalized and/or competency-based practices.

As Iowa’s students prepare to be successful citizens in a rapidly changing global community, it is imperative that Iowa’s educational systems increase personalized approaches to learning. A key shift in students being prepared for the unpredictability of technological advancements and jobs that do not yet exist today is the ability to be agents of their own learning.

Learner-centered education has at its core a focus on self-direction; co-construction of knowledge, skills, and understanding; and deep learning competencies that prepare students to transition successfully beyond the brick and mortar of schools.

This calendar is updated by members of The Center's Leadership Council and will highlight events related to The Center's work in Iowa. Please click on an event to see details by region, participation options, and contact information.

If you would like an event added to the calendar, please contact Andrea Stewart.