Fourth and eighth graders in Iowa are scoring higher on reading and math proficiency tests, but eleventh graders in Iowa are only showing small gains in their test scores in those areas. The results of the latest round of Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and Iowa Tests of Education Development were released late Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Education.
Lee Tack, an administrator in the Department of Education, says the results show “widespread growth” among all groups of students. “Everything looks very positive,” Tack says. “Basically, overall — whether you’re looking at grades four, eight or eleven — the percentage of students (who) are proficient has gone up.”
Nearly 78-and-a-half percent of the fourth graders who took the tests were “proficient” in reading and just over 80 percent of those fourth graders were proficient in math. Among the eighth graders, nearly 71-and-a-half percent tested proficient at reading, and just about 75 percent were proficient at math.
Among eleventh grade students, 76-point-eight percent were judged proficient in reading and 78-and-a-half percent were proficient at math. Yet those high school juniors didn’t score that much higher in those areas, and Tack says that’s why legislators and the governor have taken steps to encourage schools to toughen high school courses.
“I think we’ll see some changes,” Tack says. Tack and the director of the Department of Education concede several of the proficiency rates are still too low. But an effort launched in 1999 to reduce class sizes in the early elementary grades appears to be paying off, according to Tack.
Tack says they’ve also been paying attention to groups of students who have lagged behind others, and that attention has paid off when you look at the scores among fourth and eighth graders.