The Iowa Department of Education has released its 2013 Condition of Education report Wednesday. Jay Pennington, the department bureau chief for information and analysis services, says the report gives a wide overview of several areas of the education system. “You certainly see more diversity in the state, which means a larger increase of our student population are minority students. We certainly continue to see an increase in poverty,” Pennington says. “When we look at things like our schools we see there’s a need for more broadband. At the same time, we also see more students having access to computers than ever before.”
The report says student enrollment is 20-point-two percent, up from 14-point-nine percent in the 2008-09 school year. Forty-one-percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches which is up from 27 percent twelve years ago. The four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 89.3-percent.
The report includes a couple of special sections — including one which evaluates the impact of the voluntary preschool program on third grade students. Pennington says they compared the students’ kindergarten scores and saw a “significant increase in those scores” as they transitioned into kindergarten from the preschool. They next looked at the scores of the students once they hit third grade. He says they found some increases for third graders, but the “affect size was relatively small.” “Certainly I think that’s good news, but that’s not quite the slam dunk that we like to see,” Pennington says.
Another area examines how students fare when a school district retains its teachers. “School districts that where high achieving at time A and time B were able to retain a significant larger portion of their teacher workforce when compared to school districts that were lower achieving at time one and time two,” according to Pennington. There were 348 school districts in the 2012-13 school year, compared to 351 the year before.
Pennington says the state looks at all the numbers is getting a picture of how the education system is performing. )”It doesn’t grade us on an A, B, C, or D scale…education is a complex area and this report provides a number of different types of metrics,” Pennington says. The full report is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website .