Iowa Area Education Agencies

Organizational Profile

AEAs partner with public and private, accredited schools and home-schools to help in the areas of school improvement and student achievement through education support services; instructional services; professional development; and leadership. The nationally known terms for area education agencies are educational services agencies (ESAs), and Iowa’s AEA system is widely regarded as one of the best in the country.


Iowa's educational structure dates back to 1858, but the first regional services were not established until 1910 when Iowa school districts numbered over 5,000. In that year county superintendents were appointed to oversee the schools in each county. Over the years the number of districts steadily declined. In 1957, the state legislature allowed counties to jointly employ one superintendent to handle the smaller number of districts. Then, in 1965 the legislature approved the merger of two or more counties into joint county school systems. But problems developed under this new arrangement. The availability of services varied greatly from one county or joint-county system to another.

The state legislature responded in 1974 by replacing county systems with 15 area education agencies to provide equity across the state. There are now 10 AEAs due to mergers across the state. Since its inception, Iowa’s AEA system has been widely regarded as one of the finest systems of intermediate services in the country.


The AEA employs thousands of passionate employees who strive to help each child reach their full potential. Whether it’s an employee who is working as a school psychologist, a print production technician, an early childhood teacher or a technology supervisor, Northwest AEA employees each do their part to help schools improve and students achieve.


The following divisions within the AEA provide services to students, teachers, families and communities in Iowa:

Educational Services:

  • Talented and Gifted education (TAG)
  • English Language Learners (ELL)
  • Student support services
  • Licensure renewal
  • Juvenile home services
  • Tech prep
  • Mentoring and induction
  • School and community planning
  • Curriculum, instruction and assessment
  • School Improvement/Iowa Prof. Development Model (IPDM)

Media & Technology Services:

  • Lending Library
  • Iowa Educators Consortium (IEC)
  • Iowa AEA Online
  • Print and production
  • Information technology
  • Northwest Iowa Coop

Special Education Services:

  • Speech and language
  • Hearing conservation and education
  • School psychology
  • School social work
  • Early childhood/at risk
  • Consultation
  • Work experience and transition
  • Visually impaired
  • Autism resource
  • Assistive technology
  • Occupational and physical therapy

Accreditation Standards

Every five years, Iowa AEAs are accredited based upon the following criteria:

  • School-community planning
  • Professional development
  • Curriculum, instruction and assessment
  • Diverse learning needs
  • Multicultural, gender-fair
  • Media services
  • School technology
  • Leadership
  • Management services
  • Funding

AEAs have no taxing authority and are funded through a combination of local property taxes, which flow from school districts; direct state aid; federal dollars; various grants; and sales of services.

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

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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.

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© 2018 Iowa Area Education Agencies. All Rights Reserved.