Jun 04, 2019


GWAEA Launches Strategic Planning Process



GWAEA Launches Strategic Planning Process to Build Upon Positive Feedback, Address Continuing Needs of Local School Districts

For a service agency, sometimes a 90 percent satisfaction rate just isn’t enough.

Hanover Research, a global market research and analytics firm, recently released results of an independent survey of Iowa’s educators regarding the services of Iowa’s Area Education Agency (AEA) system. The survey gathered feedback from more than 8,000 general education teachers, special education teachers, superintendents, principals, and other professional staff working in more than 300 public schools and over 100 non-public schools in the state.


Grant Wood Area Education Agency Chief Administrator John Speer was one of the first to see the results from the survey. Speer is completing his first year at the helm of the intermediate service agency known as the AEA to its local partners. He and his staff were pleased to see that educators were extremely satisfied with many AEA services. While services received well over 90 percent customer satisfaction rates in the areas of audiology/hearing, and due-process mediation, licensure support, and creative help with audio/video production and graphic design; he narrowed his focus on two areas of growth indicated by the survey.


“It really was no surprise that, in almost every job category and in both urban and rural districts, we saw a request for more assistance with behavioral and mental health services,” said Speer.


Speer and his staff are coupling the results from this research study with feedback they have gathered through local one-on-one meetings and focus groups. The AEA is using these sources of administrator and teacher feedback to re-evaluate the strategic priorities for Grant Wood AEA, the educational service agency that supports school districts in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties.


“Annually we gather feedback from district staff on our programs and services, and we’re continually checking and adjusting our service delivery models to make sure our efforts are putting the strongest emphasis on student achievement,” said Speer.


Speer and the leadership team at Grant Wood AEA are in the early phases of using these data to develop a fresh strategic plan for the agency.


“Our agency’s goals need to support the priorities set by the Department of Education for our partnering school districts, and they need to help districts deliver positive outcomes for students,” he added. “In a time when funding is tight, as an AEA we need to evaluate how to utilize our existing resources to better benefit the students in today’s classrooms.”


While the new Grant Wood AEA strategic plan is still in development, Speer foreshadowed some of the changes that he and agency staff are preparing to put into play.  “Now is a great time to evaluate ways to help our schools support the mental wellness of our students.”


Speer noted that Grant Wood AEA might be uniquely positioned to pilot other new initiatives that later could be piloted across the state. “We have steady student enrollment in this area of the state, and we have the benefit of being in the Corridor - a growing geographic population that includes both urban and rural districts.”


“We need to utilize the best research available to challenge ourselves and others to look beyond the classroom experiences that we are familiar with and delve more deeply into what we can tweak to improve learning outcomes in ways that really matter.”


Agency staff will be finalizing the strategic plan early this summer.