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Information for New Teachers in AEA10

The following information is intended to give you a very brief overview of what the AEA is and why it exists. A more comprehensive brochure is available from the Grant Wood AEA communications department. If you would like to receive a copy of that document, send a note to us and we’ll send one out to your school via van mail or click here for a PDF copy.

What Is the AEA and Why Do We Have It?
What Services Does the AEA Provide?
How Is the AEA Funded?
How Do I Get Help from the AEA?
If I Have a Concern – Who Do I Contact?


What Is the AEA and Why Do We Have It?

Congress enacted the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) in 1974, and Iowa developed Area Education Agencies (AEAs) to provide support services required by the act. Though 75 percent of the AEA budget is tied to special education, the Iowa legislature assigned many other responsibilities to the AEA to provide support to schools. Some of the most frequently used of these services include:

  • Media (books, videos, on-line Websites and curriculum materials)

  • Professional Development

  • Technology (email, access to the Internet, on-line payroll/accounting, and PowerSchool)

The AEA system assures families that each child will receive quality educational services and materials regardless of where they live – in a large district or a small one.


The AEA provides specialists who work in the schools in support of teachers and students. These special roles include:

  • Speech-language pathologists

  • Social workers

  • Physical and occupational therapists

  • School psychologists

In smaller districts, the student caseload may require less than a full-time person. AEAs hire these specialists and provide these services to multiple schools and districts.


In larger districts, the AEA provides many behind-the-scene services in addition to providing these same services. The AEA helps districts meet the requirements of public mandates such as No Child Left Behind, the Individuals with Disability Education Act, Common Core, and the Iowa Teacher Quality Initiative.


Currently, Iowa is divided into nine service areas with each one served by an AEA. All public and accredited nonpublic schools receive AEA support services. State law also requires the AEAs to provide services to parents home-schooling their children.


Feedback to the annual Iowa Department of Education survey about the AEA shows a large majority of teachers believe Grant Wood AEA has a positive impact on learning in their schools, and teachers statewide have equally positive things to say about their AEAs.


What Services Does the AEA Provide?

The AEA provides services that fit within nine categories:

  • Diverse Learners (which includes special education, talented and gifted, etc.)

  • Curriculum Instruction and Assessment

  • Professional Development

  • Instructional Media

  • School Technology

  • Leadership

  • Multicultural, Gender-Fair (anti-bullying)

  • School-Community Planning

  • School Management

For a complete list of all the services Grant Wood AEA provides to schools and to see which standards they apply to, click on this link: Grant Wood A to Z.


How Is the AEA Funded?

The AEAs have no taxing authority. They are funded on a per-pupil basis, and a portion of the dollars funding them come from property taxes. State financial recaps show each district the amount of dollars the AEA receives from its tax base; however, although AEA funding “shows up” on school district budget worksheets, the districts do not have (and never have had) access to these tax dollars. Funding for school districts has never been reduced to pay for the AEA system.


Media and educational services are funded by property taxes; and over 35 percent of the agency’s funding comes from Federal Revenues which primarily support children with disabilities under IDEA. The AEA also charges some fees for classes and services, which accounts for about eight percent of its budget.


How Do I Get Help from the AEA?

Some services are only a few clicks away! If you need videos or books for your classroom, look into the agency’s online media catalog. If need an account set up with us, contact your school’s teacher librarian.


You can also find a wide variety of resources on the Iowa AEA Online site. Teachers in this area have access to all of the AEA Online resources, plus a few additional resources that Grant Wood AEA subscribes to on its own on behalf of its patrons.


If you seek professional development opportunities, the agency maintains a current list of classes available to educators. The site includes a chronological listing of all class offerings by the AEA, and you can also enroll in degree-granting graduate school programs through Drake University, Morningside College and Graceland University.


If you have a student who you think may need an IEP or AEA assistance, talk to an AEA staff member assigned to your building or to your building principal. They will help you identify the steps needed to get assistance for the student.


You will most likely see AEA staff in your building on a weekly basis providing support services for students who may need extra help or who have IEPs. These employees work with students and families on an as needed basis and they often serve as a member of an IEP team, facilitating education for a child needing extra assistance.


Some of your students may have benefitted from AEA services long before they ever entered the school system. The AEAs are responsible for identifying and serving children from birth to age five through Early ACCESS and Early Childhood programs so they can be school-ready just like the rest of their age group.


The AEA provides a wide assortment of assistive devices for children of all ages. These range from simple pencil grips to auditory amplification systems to speech devices and a wide variety of personal conveyances.


A resource team of educators and AEA support staff provides consultation, information and coordination of plans for persons with autism and related disorders and for their families. AEA staff also work with schools in reducing the effect of behavior disorders that can disrupt classrooms.


The agency’s transition support services are for students, parents, teachers and school districts as they plan for students’ transitions for living, learning and working. Planning includes movement from home to school, school to school, and to their post-school employment, education and living settings.


The Parent/Educator Partnership offers a library of information about various disabilities. It’s available to parents whose child or children may have one or more disabilities. You may ask someone from the PEP staff to sit in on an IEP meeting as a parent advocate and to help explain the process, forms and other intricate details involved.


If I Have a Concern – Who Do I Contact?

If you have a concern about a student who may need special assistance, talk to an AEA staff member assigned to your building or to your building principal.


If you have a concern about work-related issues with an AEA staff member that you cannot resolve, please share that concern with your principal. He or she will visit with the agency’s Regional Administrator to determine what steps might be appropriate.


If you would like more information about the AEA, need a speaker at a school event involving someone from the AEA or if you would like to schedule a tour of the agency facilities, please contact our communications department.


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Grant Wood Area Education Agency extends equal opportunities in its employment practices, educational programs and services, and does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or as otherwise prohibited by law. If you believe you or your child has been discriminated against or treated unjustly, please contact the Agency’s Equity Coordinator, Maria Cashman, at 319-399-6847 or 800-332-8488. Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

ADDRESS: 4401 Sixth Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
TELEPHONE: 319-399-6700 | 800-332-8488
Fax: 319-399-6457
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