Innovating our educational models and systems is an important part of moving the District forward. As successful as our education system was for the 20th century, we all recognize that the 21st century brings with it a very different world than the one our grandparents faced. 

This means we must not only actively and aggressively continuously improve the things we are doing and continue to do but we must also find spaces and places to innovate - to try new approaches and provide more and more learning options for parents and students.

These pages are dedicated to the work around system-level innovation occurring in the district. The end goal of innovation is to provide parents and students with viable, high-impact, results-driven innovations.

Each of the initiatives are described in more detail below and in the links to the right. Have innovative ideas or want to learn more?

Please contact:
Noreen Bush, Associate Superintendent
Phone: 319-558-1131

Johnson Steam Academy Logo

""Mayor Ron Corbett and JSA students read the city proclamation at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony!


As a long-standing thematic school, then known as Johnson School of the Arts, Johnson became the choice for the District's first Magnet School. Opening for the 2015-16 school year, JSA will provide a STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), hands-on, project-based curriculum to students in the Johnson attendance area and 40 students who opted in via a Magnet School lottery process.

Website    Twitter: @JSAMagnet

Metro STEAM Academy Logo


The Metro STEAM Academy is an instructional program that combines a cross curricular approach with entrepreneurship. This program is focused on the innovative redesign of classroom spaces that counter the traditional classrooms in favor of lab space for student innovation. These spaces will include a science & engineering lab, a wood shop, an incubator space, an exhibition/presentation space, and a commercial kitchen space. These classrooms will be redesigned with a focus on technology-rich, collaborative, and flexible spaces. This transformation vision is centered on three key areas: (1) 21st century technology, (2) boundary-free collaboration, and (3) “outside the box” flexibility. 


2015 Iowa BIG Logo


Debi Durham, Iowa Director of Economic Development, visits with Iowa BIG student Grace about her work at Iowa BIG on Sept. 3, 2015.


A competency-based high school program that is driven by student passion and interest, engages our business and professional community, and happens via authentic projects and initiatives. Located in the Vault Co-Working Space in the Geonetric Building in the NewBo Neighborhood.

Website    Twitter: @IowaBIG     Facebook: Iowa BIG


The Jefferson OptioN

Three teachers share 90 students in a 3 period block of time. Staff and students manage their time and schedules to ensure students successfully meet course standards and requirements. Staff are able to flex and adjust quickly to meet individual student needs and organize small groups for quick remediation or acceleration. Students engage in community-facing projects. In 2015-16 there will be two - 90 student/3 teacher groups at the freshman level.

The Roosevelt Option

8th graders at Roosevelt have the option of participating in a project-based, community-focused program. Three teachers and 90 students have the morning session to work together. Learning is self-paced and blended (meaning students learn via both the teacher and resources on the internet vetted by teachers). Student projects focus on their areas of interest and on improving the community around Roosevelt. The focus is on building a community of learners and people of action who learn together and make great things happen. As an example, last year's option class organized and ran a free Haunted House at the school for neighborhood children because the area had lost their haunted house with the demolition of Westdale mall. Students learned teamwork, organization, speaking and writing skills, marketing, planning, and design.

learner-centered assessment @ Mckinley & roosevelt

The District is moving forward towards learner-centered assessment practices aligned to standards and competencies and which provide much deeper information about student learning to students, parents, teachers, colleges, and employers. Already in its 7th year at the K-5 level, McKinley & Roosevelt staff are taking the lead to implement the practice across their entire middle schools.


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