Jan 19, 2023 - News

Misbehavior at Iowa schools increases post pandemic

Iowa out-of-school suspensions
Data: Iowa Department of Education; Note: Includes public schools only; Chart: Axios Visuals

School districts statewide experienced nearly 64,000 in and out of school suspensions and expulsions in 2021-22 — an uptick compared to the last six years, according to annual data from the Iowa Department of Education.

  • There were over 36,000 out-of-school suspensions alone, according to the state.

Why it matters: Since the pandemic began, there's been a nationwide increase in misbehavior in classrooms as students adjust to a new normal following the pandemic.

State of play: In the last six years, schools across Iowa have reported increases in misbehavior leading to suspensions and expulsions, aside from 2019-20 and 2020-21 when students were virtual.

What's happening: More than 80% of U.S. public schools report the pandemic has resulted in more negative student behavior, such as classroom disruptions, prohibited electronic use and disrespect towards teachers, according to 2022 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Zoom in: Student violence in Iowa classrooms led to 1,714 injuries, 1,138 incidents of property damage and 1,967 assaults in the 2021-22 school year.

  • About 8 in every 1,000 Iowa students caused a violent incident during the academic year.

Yes, but: There are some discrepancies in the numbers. For example, the Davenport School District reported an abnormally high number of expulsions and suspensions in 2018-19.

Between the lines: Academically, students appear to be getting back on track since the pandemic.

  • Proficiency rates mostly increased in English, math and science for grades 3 to 11, according to the 2022 report.

What we're watching: School behavior numbers from 2022-23 will better show where the state stands, said Heather Doe, spokesperson for the department.


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