Black, Hispanic and low-income Iowa students continue to lag behind their peers academically, results from statewide exams released today by the Iowa Department of Education show.

Specifically, in the 2018-19 school year, half or more of black students in third through 11th grades were not proficient in English-language arts, the data shows. Similar results occurred in the math and science portions of the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, which replaced the Iowa Assessments as the accountability test for Iowa students. 

The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress was given for the first time last spring. All students in third through 11th grades are required to take the math and English-language arts portions of the exam; students in fifth, eighth and 11th grades are required to take the science exam.

Last year, 337,287 public school students were enrolled in third through 11th grades.

“Our students must be ready to meet the demands of the 21st century,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a prepared statement. “Iowa’s new state test introduces higher expectations and new measurements to better assess student progress as well as improve accountability in our education system.”

Reynolds’ statements, which were included in a news release about proficiency standards adopted today by the Iowa State Board of Education, did not address the academic performance of specific groups of students who attend Iowa’s schools. 

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise described the new test as “more challenging” than exams administered in past years.

In a news release, he cautioned against comparing results with those from previous years. 
However, while the test is different, outcomes are similar to past years. Perennially, a higher percentage of black, Hispanic and low-income students in Iowa’s classrooms have not been proficient in key academic areas. 

In last year’s Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress exams, the percentage of Hispanic students not proficient in English-language arts ranged from 41% to 51%, depending on grade level. In addition, between 40% and 50% of students from poor families were not proficient in English-language arts.

Similar outcomes occurred in math and science, data showed.

Overall, between 65% and 75% of third through 11th graders were proficient in English-language arts, depending on grade level; 67% to 72% were proficient in math. In science, 51% to 62% were proficient, the data showed.

Results by school and school district are expected to be released in October.

To view proficiency results by grade level and student subgroup, click here.