Northwest AEA building in Sioux City

Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) is a regional agency that provides school improvement services for students, teachers and administrators, and early childhood services. The agency is an educational partner with 34 public school districts and 32 nonpublic schools in a 10-county area of northwest Iowa (Lyon, Osceola, Sioux, O'Brien, Plymouth, Cherokee, Woodbury, Ida, Monona, and Crawford), serving nearly 45,000 students. Northwest AEA staff, schools and families work together to help all children reach their potential.

As an intermediate agency, Northwest AEA offers the kinds of services that can be provided most equitably, efficiently and economically on a regional or cooperative basis among school districts.

The mission of Northwest AEA is to provide visionary leadership and quality, student-centered services through relationships with families, schools and communities.


Iowa's educational structure dates back to 1858, but the first regional services were not established until 1910 when Iowa school districts numbered over 5,000. In that year county superintendents were appointed to oversee the schools in each county.

Over the years the number of districts steadily declined. In 1957, the state legislature allowed counties to jointly employ one superintendent to handle the smaller number of districts. Then, in 1965 the legislature approved the merger of two or more counties into joint county school systems.

But problems developed under this new arrangement. The availability of services varied greatly from one county or joint-county system to another.

The state legislature responded in 1974 by replacing county systems with 15 area education agencies to provide equity across the state. There are now nine AEAs due to mergers across the state, including the merger of former AEAs 4 and 12 becoming Northwest AEA in 2006. Since its inception, Iowa’s AEA system has been widely regarded as one of the finest systems of intermediate services in the country.

For more information about how Iowa's AEA program makes a difference for students, educators, and faculty visit