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Iowa Department of Education releases new spring student assessment results, updates postsecondary readiness reports

Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2021

DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education today released new spring 2021 assessment results from K-3 early literacy screenings and the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress for students in grades 3-11 and updated the state’s website on postsecondary readiness. Iowa fully administered the assessments this past spring and is one of the first states to release comprehensive data about student performance over the last year.

The results from early literacy screenings, which were administered in three testing windows by districts in fall, winter and spring, show the percentage of students in kindergarten through third grade scoring at or above benchmark is on an upward trend. Student performance dropped 10-percentage points from fall 2019 to fall 2020 after the 2019-20 school year was cut short in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Spring 2021 proficiency scores improved for all grades with the exception of kindergarten.

Results from the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP), which was administered by districts from March 15 to May 28, show increases and decreases in English language arts proficiency when compared to last year, the variances of which are similar to those from prior years. Proficiency increased for students in grades 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Third grade results declined the most, dropping 14.8 percentage points.

While ISASP results in mathematics show a 1 to 7 percentage point decrease in the percent of students scoring proficient when compared to last year for all grade levels assessed, the decline is one that Iowa’s educational community is prepared to address.

“In order to move forward and continue to improve, we need to be able to measure where we are and where we need to go,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “Iowa schools worked hard this past spring to assess as many students as possible, even those who were learning remotely. Thanks to their efforts, Iowa likely has one of the most complete data sets in the country on student outcomes throughout the pandemic. This crucial data will help schools target areas in need of accelerated learning and recapture the growth Iowa students experienced prior to the pandemic.”

Iowa opted to offer a remote testing option for the ISASP this year to ensure all students had the opportunity to participate. Just over three percent of all students who took the ISASP did so remotely. Remote testers are included in the overall ISASP participation rate but their scores are not included in the statewide results because proctoring was not required in a remote setting.

State assessments play an important role in advancing educational equity, identifying student needs and targeting the resources to address them. This data exists because the vast majority of students in Iowa participated in in-person learning in some way during the 2020-21 school year, making teaching, learning and assessment of learning possible. Iowa had a 93 percent student participation rate for the early literacy screenings and a 98 percent participation rate for the ISASP, ensuring that the results yield a true picture. The ISASP participation rate includes both in-person and remote testers.

Iowa’s Postsecondary Readiness Reports website has also been updated with new data from Iowa’s public high school graduating class of 2020. The data show 2020 high school graduates enrolled in college in the fall at slightly lower rates than the graduating class before them. The most recent state-level summary report shows the class of 2020 had 57.9 percent enrollment in postsecondary education, while the class of 2019’s enrollment rate was 62.1 percent.

The Department of Education is focused on a single priority for all Iowa learners to be future ready and is aligning efforts with education partners to ensure all students experience the levels of achievement, growth and development they need for the next stage of their educational journey and beyond.

The spring K-3 early literacy screening and ISASP results can be found on the the Iowa Department of Education website at: The Iowa Postsecondary Readiness Report website can be accessed at: