116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Performance results in Iowa public schools are significantly down from previous years, according to new data from the Iowa Department of Education.
Within the Grant Wood Area Education Agency — which serves 32 public school districts in this area — Metro High School in Cedar Rapids had the lowest score, dropping by three categories from commendable to priority.
There are six categories in Iowa school performance ratings. Highest to lowest, the categories are exceptional, high performing, commendable, acceptable, needs improvement and priority.
Cedar Rapids Virtual Academy, which launched during the 2020-21 school year and expanded to K-12 students this year, was also listed as a priority school.
The only three schools in the Grant Wood AEA district in the highest category — exceptional — were Lincoln and Wickham elementary schools in Iowa City and Mount Vernon Middle School.
Between 2019 — the last time the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress test was administered — and 2021, the number of schools rated exceptional decreased by six and the number of schools in the high performing category decreased by 26.
The number of schools in the lowest two categories — needs improvement and priority — increased by seven and 21 schools respectably.
When comparing performance scores from 2019 to 2021, it is important to take into account the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic had on schools during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, according to the Iowa Department of Education.
The latest scores reflect results of the assessment tests, which all 327 public school districts administered last spring. A remote online testing option was made available in 2021 for students who were enrolled and unable to test at school.
Since remote assessments were not proctored, the results are not included in the average school achievement scores. About 3.4 percent of all tested students took the ISASP remotely.
Officials attribute the drop in achievement to loss of instructional time because of the pandemic and the August 2020 derecho, and as both students and teachers had to adapt to remote learning.
“This is an important tool for families, educators and other stakeholders to understand how their schools are performing and to help determine next steps for moving forward,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said in a statement.
“The Iowa School Performance Profiles can assist communities in data-driven decision-making, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about our schools,” she said. “It’s important to understand the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and to take that into account when looking at the 2021 performance scores.”
Cedar Rapids schools saw drops in achievement scores in reading and math at each grade level that took the ISASP last spring.
To make up achievement gaps, Cedar Rapids educators are focusing on professional learning — a time for teachers to work together to find ways to better support their students.
Another focus will be family engagement work, including at least 15-minute phone calls to parents or guardians once a month.
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John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.