Education

Reports on student readiness running late

Website upgrades providing consistency cause delay

(File photo) Students walk down a sidewalk from Curtiss Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(File photo) Students walk down a sidewalk from Curtiss Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — For more than a year, the state has not updated a website it debuted in January 2017 aimed at showing how well-prepared its graduating public high school students are for success in postsecondary education and training.

The Iowa Department of Education expects to update its “Postsecondary Readiness Reports” website in mid-December — at least six months later than planned.

The website, last updated in November 2017, was supposed to produce spring updates, but department spokeswoman Staci Hupp cited changes to the new site’s methodology and features.

“We want consistency when we push out the spring updates,” Hupp said.

The postsecondary readiness reports — connecting data from the Education Department, Iowa Workforce Development and Board of Regents — was created in support of the state’s Future Ready Iowa initiative and its aim to get 70 percent of working Iowans some form of education or training beyond high school by 2025.

Earlier this fall, Iowa College Aid released its “Condition of Higher Education in Iowa” report, and noted stalled progress toward that goal.

“Since the release of our most recent report in 2016, Iowa has made only modest gains across higher education indicators,” according to a message in the report from Iowa College Aid Executive Director Karen Misjak. “While we still lead the nation in high school graduation rates, the share of Iowa high school students who meet college readiness bench marks remains unchanged.”

The portion of Iowans attending college inched up less than 1 percentage point, to 61 percent, according to the report. Minority and low-income students lag behind their white and higher-income counterparts in college readiness, enrollment and completion, the report found.

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“This is especially troubling because black and Hispanic individuals are the fastest-growing demographic groups in our state,” according to Misjak. “Overall, small increases in attainment and growing gaps in achievement suggest little progress toward our state’s goal that 70 percent of Iowans have education or training beyond high school by 2025.”

The website, reports.educateiowa.gov/postsecondaryreadiness, lets users search by high school for enrollment patterns, remedial course-taking rates and postsecondary retention and completion percentages.

George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, for example, reports 74.2 percent of its graduates enrolled in college within a year of high school, and 24.3 percent of those who enrolled in a public college or university took a remedial math or English course.

When the postsecondary reports were last updated more than a year ago they reported general trends including:

l 70.8 percent of Iowa high school graduates enrolled in college or training programs within one year of high school graduation.

l 47.3 percent of high school graduates earned some type of postsecondary award within six years of high school graduation.

l 89.3 percent of students who enroll in college do so within the first year and 94.3 percent within two years of high school graduation.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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