With the establishment of the area education agency system in 1975, Iowa became a national leader in providing regional, intermediate educational services. The Iowa system continues to be among the most respected in the country.

Though 44 other states have some kind of educational service agency, referred to as BOCES, ECSUs, CESAs, IUs, IMUs, ESAs, and others, the scope of those agencies varies from state to state. Some have regulatory power as well as service responsibilities. Others provide only special education services or only a centralized media center. Still others are cooperative ventures of two or more school districts pooling their resources or have become market-driven and entrepreneurial, hiring staff and providing services based on contractual agreements with individual districts or district partnerships.

Iowa’s school districts have continually emphasized their satisfaction with the AEA system, citing the constancy and comprehensiveness of special education services, the leadership in staff development and curriculum integration, the support in media and technology, and the close working relationships among AEA staff, superintendents, principals, teachers, guidance counselors and media specialists.

As one teacher expressed it in a recent AEA Media Services evaluation, “They make me feel like I’m the only one they’re serving!”