The Director of the Department of Education is urging Iowa lawmakers to think twice before proceeding with any plan to lengthen the school year. Both Governor Vilsack and Senate Republicans have proposed more class time for Iowa kids — but education director Judy Jeffrey says that may not produce the results they’re looking for.
Jeffrey says, “Our research has indicated that for some students it may help. For instance, our struggling students, our at-risk students, but it doesn’t seem to apply across the board to all students. So, whether or not you really want to make that kind of financial investment for all students is a very legitimate question.” Jeffrey says demanding more classroom time could cut into teacher development and she says that would really hurt students. She says, “Because what we’ve found is, it really is the quality of the teacher and the way we use the time, not the amount that really makes a difference in raising student achievement.” Jeffrey says schools may get more bang for their buck by putting resources into after school tutoring programs for kids that do need extra help.
On another topic, Jeffrey says more Iowa high schools are now requiring three years of math and science credits for students to graduate. She says we’ve gone from 104 to 256 using the three year standard in six to eight months time. Jeffrey says that’s encouraging. Jeffrey says people are hearing the message and understanding that students have to have math and science closer to graduation in order to succeed once they leave high school. Jeffrey says they’re closely monitoring the number of high school districts that have toughened graduation standards and will continue to push the others to follow suit.