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Iowa education leader hails work-based learning initiative

August 31, 2019

HOLLAND, Iowa (AP) — Businesses partnering with the state to provide real-world student learning opportunities are expected to boost career education for rural Iowa school districts.

The state is using the recently unveiled Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning to help students build job skills, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

Businesses, nonprofits and governmental organizations can post real-world tasks on a project board that students can then complete under the supervision of teachers. Teachers can also use it to connect students to job shadow, internship and apprenticeship opportunities.

“Really, it’s designed as a virtual space,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.

Wise said the program will broaden access to learning that hasn’t been available for some students, especially those in rural areas.

Stacy Ascher, who coordinates credit course offerings at the outreach center, said it’s a huge resource that will help students in northeastern Iowa. Credit course offerings are in manufacturing, health care and agricultural fields as well as the liberal arts.

Ascher is already organizing some work-based learning for students at the center. Freshmen in all participating districts do manufacturing work site tours, where they learn about a variety of jobs at the business on and off the factory floor.

Ascher said students in the area do between 250 and 300 job shadows each year and an average of 100 internships.

Wise said such learning opportunities can spark interest among young people in a way classroom lessons do not.

“One of the biggest challenges I see in too many places is a lack of student engagement,” he said.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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