Two eastern Iowa education leaders say it’s time for the state to establish tougher standards for high school graduation. All three of the state’s public universities require incoming students to have at least three years of high school math, science and English. But only 40 of Iowa’s 376 school districts require the same for high school graduation, and University of Northern Iowa president Robert Koob says that’s got to change. “Our young people will need that kind of education in order to succeed in the 21st century,” Koob says. Mary Lou Lauer, the v-p of instruction at Kirkwood Community College, says up 40 percent of the students who enroll in the state’s community colleges need to take remedial courses because they didn’t get enough math, science or english in high school. “There is some work that needs to be done before a large number of students that we see at Kirkwood are ready to succeed at college-level courses,” Lauer says. But Iowa Department of Education director Judy Jeffrey is against the idea of statewide rules for school classwork. “Communities in Iowa and school districts in Iowa respond quite quickly to the needs of their students and many districts are currently in discussion to raise those requirements,” Jeffrey says. Jeffrey says the key is not to simply require more math and science courses, but to make sure the classes offered are “rigorous.”
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