More Iowa schools are landing on a federal watch list for falling short of the student achievement goals outlined under the "No Child Left Behind" law. A report issued Thursday shows 136 schools failed to meet the annual targets in math and reading this year.
Iowa Department of Education Director Judy Jeffrey says she believes the number will get worse before it gets better. Jeffrey says most states set targets that at the beginning of the time were more reasonable and more attainable and right now most of the states are on a very fast trajectory that is very ambitious. Jefferey says the goals for math and reading proficiency need to be revised.
Jefferey says, "No one is concerned about the fact that there is accountability, there’s more public reporting you know everybody understands that and actually wants it. But having goals that are reasonable and attainable would seem to make more sense to both our schools and the public." Jefferey says No Child Left Behind includes all students including those in special education and English as a second language classes. She says that makes it difficult for larger, more urban districts to meet those goals.
Jefferey says you have students who are living in poverty who are struggling and she says that’s where most of the major problems lie in Iowa and the U.S. Jefferey says the reason most schools are on the list are for the subgroups of students, not the total group of students. Jefferey says Iowans should be proud of the quality of the students.
Jefferey says the high poverty schools have as high a quality teachers as the low poverty schools, which she says is not true for all of the United States. Jefferey also says Iowa’s graduation rates remain some of the highest in the nation.