Iowa Area Education Agencies

About AEAs

The Iowa Legislature established Iowa’s Area Education Agencies in 1974 to be an effective, efficient and economical means of identifying and serving children from birth to age 21 who require special education services. This decision was a result of the federal law mandating a free, appropriate, public education for children with disabilities. The Iowa legislature was also plagued with complaints about inequitable services from district to district across Iowa.

At that time, 25 percent of students in need of special education were receiving the needed special services and special, segregated schools for children with behavior disorders had been closed. AEAs remain responsible in ensuring that all children with disabilities receive the assistance they need to be successful.

The original 15 AEAs followed the boundaries of the community college system. In 2000, the AEAs asked for legislation allowing for voluntary mergers of AEAs. Since that time, several AEA mergers have taken place and there are now nine AEAs due to mergers across the state. Here's the timeline of those mergers:

Date of Merger Merging AEAs New AEA
July 1, 2003 Northern Trails AEA 2, AEA 6 & AEA 7 AEA 267 (Named Central Rivers AEA in July 2017.)
July 1, 2003 Arrowhead  & Lakeland 

Prairie Lakes AEA

July 1, 2006 AEA 4 & Western Hills  Northwest AEA 
July 1, 2008 Great River & Southern Prairie Great Prairie
July 1, 2010 Loess Hills & Green Valley Green Hills

Area Education Agencies continue to work as educational partners with every public and accredited, nonpublic school in Iowa to improve the learning outcomes and well being of all students.

Iowa’s AEAs work as partners to provide these services to every Iowa public school district and accredited, nonpublic school to improve the learning outcomes and well-being of all children and youth:

Special Education services comprise about 80 percent of the AEA budget and include:

  • Academic Consultants
  • Behavior Consultants 
  • Hearing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Speech
  • Vision

Educational Services includes:

  • Literacy
  • Math
  • Professional Development 
  • Science
  • Teacher Leadership & Compensation
  • Technology
  • Talented & Gifted

Media services include:

  • Iowa AEA Online
  • Lending Library
  • Print & Production
  • Technology

Early ACCESS is a partnership between families with young children (birth to age 3) and providers from Iowa’s AEAs, the Iowa Departments of Education, Public Health and Human Services, and Child Health Specialty Clinics. Families and Early ACCESS staff work together to identify, coordinate and provide needed services and resources that help families assist their infants and toddlers in their growth and development.

Early Childhood
Early Childhood Special Education services are available to children ages 3-5 who may be identified as needing special education services. The AEA is the system within Iowa who has been given the responsibility for identifying children with special needs. 

 AEAs also provide special education instruction at correctional facilities, youth shelter care classrooms, juvenile homes and other special schools. 

Iowa's AEAs are widely regarded as one of the foremost regional service systems in the country, offering programs that can be provided most equitably, efficiently and economically on a regional or cooperative basis among school districts.




Iowa Area Education Agencies
Central Rivers AEA Grant Wood AEA Great Prairie AEA Green Hills AEA Heartland AEA Keystone AEA Mississippi Bend Northwest AEA Prarie Lakes AEA
All Iowa AEAs are required to adhere to state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination in programs, activities and employment practices. For specific information, contact your AEA.
Iowa Area Education Agencies
Connie Johnson
Statewide Communications Director
Iowa Area Education Agencies
712/335-3588 ext. 2015

Social Media
pinterest twitter facebook blog
About AEAs
Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEAs) were created in 1974 by the Iowa legislature to ensure equal educational opportunities for all children from birth through age 21. As regional service agencies, AEAs provide special education and school improvement services for students, families, teachers, administrators, and their communities.

© 2018 Iowa Area Education Agencies. All Rights Reserved.

home | sitemap | feedback
© 2018 Iowa Area Education Agencies. All Rights Reserved.