Dec 15, 2021 - News

Iowa Education Department releases high school performance rankings

Data: Iowa Department of Education; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Most Des Moines public schools are in need of improvement or targeted assistance, according to new data from the Iowa Department of Education.

Driving the news: The state released its analysis of how schools performed in the 2020-21 academic year on Tuesday.

State of play: Des Moines' suburban high schools performed above the state's average score of 54.7 out of 100.

  • But high schools in the Des Moines school district consistently ranked under the average — ranging in scores between 40-45.

Of note: Results are based off the spring 2021 Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, a standardized test administered at public schools.

  • Students were evaluated on reading, writing, math and science.
  • The majority of students took the test in person.

Between the lines: Last year was stressful for all students, resulting in grades and test performances dropping across the board.

  • Yes, but: COVID-19 was even more burdensome on marginalized families. Studies show online learning created instability for students of color and low-income families who relied on schools to provide structure and supervision throughout the day.

Zoom in: Ankeny High School, the highest-ranking public metro high school, is primarily white — 83.6% of its student population.

  • English language learners make up 1.6% of its students, while 15.2% of students are on free or reduced lunch.

In comparison, East High School in Des Moines, which is 29.2% white, scored the lowest out of all the metro high schools. Hispanic, African American and Asian students make up the rest of the majority of its student population.

  • ELL students make up 24% of its demographics and 82% of the total population qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The bottom line: Standardized test results can be a tool parents can use, but they don’t offer a complete picture, especially given the pandemic’s toll, DOE director Ann Lebo said in a statement.


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