Des Moines schools: 4 things we're watching this year
Wednesday marks the return of nearly 30,000 students for Des Moines' 2023-24 school year.
Why it matters: It's a big year of firsts for the district as it welcomes a new superintendent and navigates new laws.
- Four things to watch:
What's new: Ian Roberts, whose first day was July 1, leads the Des Moines school district as its first-ever superintendent of color.
- Roberts has a 20+ year career in urban education and before that, competed as an Olympic runner.
State of play: Standardized test results in Des Moines are regularly lower than state averages.
Reality check: Students deal with more barriers to academic achievement, such as lower socioeconomic statuses.
What we're watching: If intervention bumps scores up.
- The school board regularly monitors test scores and in June, benchmarks for reading and English scores for 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders were not on track.
What's next: School officials are trying to make sure instruction is equal across schools, invest more in teacher training and provide extra materials for students who need help.
- The district was also the victim of a cyberattack that took students out of classes for two days in January.
What we're watching: If post-pandemic misbehavior and violence ticks back down.
- DMPS nearly doubled its security budget to $13 million this upcoming school year. District officials invested in cameras, metal detectors, patrol officers and vehicles, as well as training and crisis prevention.
- In 2021, the district eliminated its school resource officer program.
- It's also investing nearly $4 million in cybersecurity.
What's happening: DMPS has struggled with declining enrollment and revenue loss, but it's been exacerbated since 2020 due to new open enrollment laws and families leaving after going 100% virtual in 2020.
What we're watching: If declines continue.
- The state approved more than 3,000 private school scholarships in Polk County.
- It's unclear how many of those students, as well as the state funding that follows them, would have gone to DMPS.
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