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State report provides updated snapshot of Iowa student proficiency


Following a dip in student literacy scores due to the pandemic, the percentage of Iowa kindergarten through third-grade students reading at or above proficiency benchmarks is on an upward trend this spring, according to new data from the Iowa Department of Education. At the other end of the spectrum, college enrollment among Iowa high school graduates has declined, new numbers show.

The department this week released new spring 2021 assessment results from K-3 early literacy screenings, and from the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress for students in grades 3-11. The state agency also updated the state’s website on postsecondary readiness. Iowa fully administered the assessments this past spring and is one of the first states to release comprehensive data about student performance over the last year, the department said in a press release.

Among K-3 students, student performance in reading dropped 10 percentage points from fall 2019 to fall 2020 after the 2019-20 school year was cut short in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The new spring 2021 proficiency scores improved for all grades with the exception of kindergarten.

Results from the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, which was administered by districts from March 15 to May 28, show increases and decreases in English language arts proficiency when compared with last year, the variances of which are similar to those from prior years.

In mathematics, ISASP results in mathematics show a 1 to 7 percentage point decrease in the percentage of students scoring proficient when compared with last year for all grade levels assessed.  

Iowa’s Postsecondary Readiness Reports website has also been updated with new data from Iowa’s public high school graduating class of 2020. The data shows 2020 high school graduates enrolled in college in the fall at slightly lower rates than the graduating class before them. The most recent state-level summary report shows the class of 2020 had 57.9% enrollment in postsecondary education, while the class of 2019’s enrollment rate was 62.1%.

“In order to move forward and continue to improve, we need to be able to measure where we are and where we need to go,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said in a statement. “Iowa schools worked hard this past spring to assess as many students as possible, even those who were learning remotely. Thanks to their efforts, Iowa likely has one of the most complete data sets in the country on student outcomes throughout the pandemic. This crucial data will help schools target areas in need of accelerated learning and recapture the growth Iowa students experienced prior to the pandemic.”

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