Nov 1, 2023 - Education

Des Moines school district students improve from 2021

bar chart showing metro schools improving except ankeny and valley high school
Absolute change between 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years for metro high schools. Chart: Axios

Des Moines metro students' mostly improved academically last school year in comparison to 2021, according to new reports by the Iowa Department of Education.

Why it matters: The Des Moines school district improved the most in comparison to neighboring districts after suffering some of the hardest setbacks from the pandemic.

State of play: Iowa School Performance Profiles are published annually by the Iowa Department of Education for each public school.

  • The department measures on state assessment results, graduation rates, English language proficiency and learning environments.
  • Each school receives an overall score from the state, which determines where they rank from exceptional, high performing, commendable, acceptable, needs improvement and lastly, priority.
  • The state's average score is 54.8.

Of note: While scores are a snapshot of school performance, they may not tell the "entire story," according to the state.

Zoom in: Two DSM high schools were identified as needing improvement based on the 2022-23 school year: Lincoln and East.

  • Hoover, North and Roosevelt moved up to acceptable.
  • Hoover, North, Lincoln and East were all ranked "priority" in 2021, while Roosevelt needed improvement.

The big picture: While overall scores were highest in the metro's suburban school districts, they also don't have as many students facing steeper barriers to academic success.

Between the lines: At East High School last year, 79% of students were identified as low-income, 24% were English learners and 20% had a disability.

  • Compare that with Johnston High School, where 23% of students were low-income, 7% were English learners and 10% had a disability.

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