116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa City school district saw mixed results last school year under a federal law whose future both nationally and in Iowa is uncertain.
Hills Elementary and Hoover Elementary have been as labeled “schools in need of assistance,” or SINA, for math and reading, respectively, according to information provided by the district Thursday.
On the plus side, after several years as a district in need of assistance, the Iowa City school district is now on what is known as “delay status,” meaning it met state-established goals for one year. Those requirements must be met for two consecutive years to be removed from the “in need of assistance” list.
Also, several schools were removed from the “watch” list after having missed the targets last year. Those include Mann Elementary for reading and math and Hoover Elementary, Weber Elementary and West High for math.
Weber, though, moved onto the watch list in reading, as did Garner Elementary (reading and math), Longfellow Elementary (reading and math), Hills (math), and North Central Junior High (math).
The results are based on standardized tests taken last school year. The law requires schools to test students and show academic progress annually for all students in grades three through eight and 11 by meeting state-established goals.
President Barack Obama's administration wants to reform the law and has been offering waivers from some requirements to states that meet certain standards. Iowa's waiver requests have been rejected so far, with the federal government saying in June the state needs to change the way it evaluates teachers and principals.
Under the law, the percentage of students who must be proficient in math and reading increases regularly until 100 percent must meet requirements in 2014 – a standard educators say will be impossible to attain.
Iowa did get a one-year reprieve on the proficiency requirement, which kept that from increasing for these current test scores. Still, Pam Ehly, the Iowa City school district's director of curriculum, said she did not notice that making much of a difference.
Sanctions under the law apply only to schools that receive federal Title I funds for having a significant number of low-income students. The Iowa City district's high schools, junior high schools and several elementary schools are not Title I schools. Those include SINA elementary schools Hoover, Lemme, Penn and Van Allen.
Schools that are subject to sanctions must allow students to transfer to non-SINA schools. Schools on the SINA list at least two years must provide free tutoring.
The number of students who have requested transfers for this school year was not immediately available Thursday.
As it did last year, the district will not pay for the transportation costs for new SINA transfers and will instead spend that money on tutoring, Ehly said. Those who were previously bused to other schools will continue to receive that service.
One year ago, 29.6 percent of Iowa's public schools were identified as “is need of assistance,” an increase from 24.9 percent the previous year, according to Iowa Department of Education data.