Education

New data moves 11 Cedar Rapids schools off list of schools needing 'targeted' support

Cedar Rapids school district shows accountability improvement according to state data

Textbooks are shown in storage at the Cedar Rapids School District's Educational Leadership and Support Center in Cedar
Textbooks are shown in storage at the Cedar Rapids School District’s Educational Leadership and Support Center in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

The state accountability system for Iowa’s public schools, updated this week, shows improvements in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

New results from the 2018-2019 school year bumped 11 schools in the metro district off the state’s list of schools marked as needing to provide “targeted” support to historically-underserved groups of students.

Those Cedar Rapids schools were among many in Iowa that addressed issues identified in the first round of the Iowa School Performance Profiles, according to an Iowa Department of Education news release this week.

The performance profiles were introduced in December 2018 to meet federal accountability requirements.

“This is a testament to the great work of our schools as well as the support provided by the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa’s area education agencies,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said in a statement.

Throughout the state, 288 schools — down from 341 — were identified as in need of targeted support in the new round of profiles. Reports for every Iowa public school are available online at iaschoolperformance.gov.

The system scores schools based on participation in school assessments, academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, English language proficiency and postsecondary readiness.

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Schools’ new scores reflect the results from Iowa’s new standardized test, the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, which students took for the first time last spring.

In Cedar Rapids, three elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools were identified as needing to provide targeted support, indicating some subgroups of students — including black, English learning and low-income students — at those schools scored as low as the worst 5 percent of Iowa schools.

Those were Jackson, Johnson and Kenwood elementary schools; McKinley, Roosevelt and Wilson middle schools; and Jefferson and Kennedy high schools.

Last year, eight elementary schools, six middle schools and Jefferson and Washington high schools were identified as targeted.

The new profiles show Cleveland, Grant, Hoover, Madison, Van Buren, Viola Gibson and Wright elementary schools; Franklin, Harding and Taft middle schools; and Washington High School moved off that list.

Jackson and Kenwood elementary schools, as well as Kennedy High School, were identified for improvement for the first time this year.

Some schools identified by the state receive additional funding. In Cedar Rapids, because the district gives only elementary schools Title 1 status, middle and high schools do not qualify for additional dollars.

Every three years, the accountability system also identifies schools that need to make “comprehensive” improvements. To qualify, those schools have to receive either Title 1 funding and score in the bottom 5 percent of schools receiving those additional federal dollars, or have a graduation rate below 67.1 percent.

Cedar Rapids’ Taylor Elementary was first identified last year with 33 other Iowa schools.

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The Iowa Department of Education introduced the performance profiles last year to fulfill federal standards set by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which succeeded No Child Left Behind.

The Iowa School Performance Profiles replaced the Iowa School Report Card website, which the state shut down last spring.

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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