Intersect Working Papers
Provides Iowa-specific research on education issues published by the Iowa Department of Education.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicates that Iowa students in grades 4 and 8 comprehend numbers and operations better than their national counterparts. Other areas are not as dramatic.
This study examines the class size component of The Iowa Early Intervention Block Grant Program (Iowa Code 256D). Using building-level cohort data, the relationship between class size and student achievement (reading and math test scores) in early elementary grades in Iowa is explored with no significant relationship found. However, among a sample limited to buildings with high populations of free or reduced price lunch eligible students, a negative non-linear relationship exists.
Iowa is one of the five states in the Nation that has a low dropout rate. Iowa’s dropout rates have been less than 2 percent for grades 7-12 and less than 3 percent for grades 9-12 (see Figure 1) since 1998. However, each year the total number of dropouts was over four thousand from grades 7 through 12 in Iowa. The current study seeks answers for the following questions: Are students more likely to drop out from some schools than others? Is a zero dropout rate possible for a school district? Are same dropout rates for students in different demographic groups? The main focus of this paper is the characteristics of the districts with no dropouts. Iowa data support two facts: 1) a zero dropout rate is possible and, 2) Iowa has 20 to 30 percent of the districts with a zero dropout rate in each of the last eight years.
Purpose—Iowa has used a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) growth model since 2007. 2009 was the first time that growth data for three years have been included in making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) decisions for schools and districts. The NCLB growth model project focuses only on students who are not proficient in a previous year, and remain non-proficient in a subsequent year. They are counted as meeting growth, and thus AYP, when they make significant progress toward becoming proficient. What remains is the lingering question of “What about the students who are already proficient?” As it is important to study the academic achievement gains of non-proficient students, to make sure they are on track to becoming proficient, it is equally important to study the academic achievement gains of students who are already proficient, to make sure they are improving in their own learning. Thus, this analysis is a study of the academic achievement improvement of students throughout the proficiency spectrum.
Gaps exist in the achievement of Iowa students. In 2010, the percent of all students in grade four enrolled for full academic year (FAY) scoring proficient, as measured by the Iowa Tests, was 78.5 percent. The percent of Black (54.5 percent), Hispanic (61.2 percent), free or reduced lunch eligible (66.6 percent), or English Language Learner (ELL) (51.3 percent) students was considerably less. Similarly, in eighth grade mathematics, the percent of all students enrolled for full academic year scoring proficient was 76.5 percent. Again, the percent of Black (45.9 percent), Hispanic (59.9 percent), free or reduced lunch eligible (62.1 percent), or ELL (41.5) students was significantly less. The achievement gap is defined as the observed difference on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups classified by race/ethnicity, ability, and socioeconomic status. The achievement gap in Iowa can be observed on a variety of measures, including standardized test scores, grade point average, dropout rates, and college-enrollment rates. While most of the data presented in this article comes from Iowa, gaps exist for these groups throughout the United States.