In a recent survey of northwest Iowa school administrators, 86 percent said they agree that Northwest Area Education Agency’s (AEA) coach-strategist service delivery model is working well in their respective building or district. Moreover, a majority (58 percent) said they would “strongly agree” that the model is working well.

This is good news to directors at Northwest AEA who began implementing the model in area schools over one year ago to better align resources for teaching and learning and for being closer to the classroom.

“Our coach-strategist model was designed to bring innovation, efficiency and greater focus to students and educators so that, together, we could help raise student achievement,” said Dr. Tim Grieves, chief administrator for Northwest AEA.

The new service model places instructional coaches and special education strategists at assigned schools, as opposed to teams of AEA employees visiting many schools on a rotational basis. 

In their new roles, the coaches support schools in professional development efforts and offer support to teachers. Their goal is to assist teachers in taking what they learn through professional development and transferring it to the classroom in order to improve outcomes for all learners.

The strategists are the primary building contacts for special education services, including Child Find, Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and compliance issues. Their goal is to assist special education teachers with appropriate instruction to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

Not only do building administrators say the model is working well, but 86 percent report that teachers and students have more access to AEA support each week.

Grieves said that was one of the biggest forces behind the model change.

“We need to partner with the schools and join their teams to make a difference for students. Also, we listened to our customer feedback which said that educators wanted more time and access to AEA support,” Grieves explained. “We felt this was the best strategy to accommodate their needs and, ultimately, the needs of northwest Iowa students.”

Thirty-six out of 68 building administrators involved in this new model (53 percent) completed the survey.

“It has been a positive experience for us here at West High,” said Principal Jim Vanderloo. “The coach-strategist model has allowed our teachers to look at different avenues for seeking support. Instead of going to administrators they can ask their peers for guidance, which alleviates anxiety for some staff.”

“Also, our coaches have not only received support for their work, but we have also seen more department and school-wide development,” added Vanderloo.

The model is in the second year of three phases as it is implemented into area schools. All buildings within the Northwest AEA territory will use the service model by the start of the 2011-12 school year.