Education

Iowa ties for first in ACT scores nationwide

But national report card shows slight dips in reading, math

Sylvan teacher Alicia Maxwell of Washington gives instruction to Caitlynn Tubbs, 15, of North Liberty, and Chris Nicknish, 17, of North Liberty, during a January ACT prep session at Sylvan Learning Center in Coralville. ACT national assessment results released Wednesday show Iowa tied for first in the country with an composite score of 21.6 out of a possible 36. (KC McGinnis for The Gazette)
Sylvan teacher Alicia Maxwell of Washington gives instruction to Caitlynn Tubbs, 15, of North Liberty, and Chris Nicknish, 17, of North Liberty, during a January ACT prep session at Sylvan Learning Center in Coralville. ACT national assessment results released Wednesday show Iowa tied for first in the country with an composite score of 21.6 out of a possible 36. (KC McGinnis for The Gazette)

Iowa’s report card showed a slight dip in math and reading scores, but the state’s high school students tied for first place in the nation in the ACT college entrance exam scores.

Iowa and South Dakota tied for first among states where more than half the students in the Class of 2019 took the ACT.

The Iowa and South Dakota composite score was 21.6 out of a possible 36. The national average was 20.7.

Iowa’s score was down slightly from 2018’s composite of 21.8.

Sixty-six percent of the students in the 2019 graduating class took the ACT, according to the national assessment results released Wednesday.

Dips in math, reading scores

Wednesday also saw the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, which is released every two years.

Nationally, the 2019 fourth-grade math scores increased by one point and eighth-grade math scores decreased one point compared to 2017.

Scores for both grades declined in reading compared to 2017.

While most states show no significant change in scores — including Iowa — nine states had scores that increased and three had decreases.

While scores have increased significantly since assessments started in the 1990s, scores in math, reading, science and writing are unchanged from a decade ago, according to Peggy Carr, associate commissioner with the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In Iowa, the average score in math for fourth-grade students was 241, one point higher than the average for public school students in the nation, but two points lower than Iowa’s 2017 score.

Iowa eighth-graders scored 282 in math, one point higher than the national average but four points below the 2017 score of 286.

In reading, Iowa fourth-graders scored 221, two points above the national public school average and one point lower than in 2017.

Eighth-graders scored 262 in reading, the same as the national public school average and one point lower than in 2017.

Staci Hupp, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Education, said the Nation’s Report Card is an important measure, but it isn’t perfect.

“We never over-rely on one measure to tell us the whole story about our schools in Iowa,” she said.

Like a lot of states, Iowa saw some decreases in scores since 2017, especially for eighth-graders, she said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We still have some unacceptable achievement gaps among students from diverse backgrounds,” Hupp said. “We also know we have the right road map in place for education in Iowa, and we’re really confident we’ll see student performance improve.”

That “right road map” is a combination of a new Iowa assessment test — Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress — early literacy screening assessments, expansion of career and technical education programs, computer science and work-based learning, and a teacher leadership system, which Hupp said has shown a positive impact on student achievement for three years in a row.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.