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The next mile(stone) on Iowa’s roadway to education success

Date: 
November 30, 2018

We all share a commitment to meeting the needs of Iowa’s students. Our education system has worked together over time to put in place the right roadmap to prepare all students for success in high school and beyond.

School accountability and support represent one part of this roadmap. I’m thankful we now have a federal K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that gives ownership of accountability and support systems back to states and local school districts. This means no more federally prescribed targets, sanctions and turnaround models for schools. Rather, Iowa’s system for accountability and support under ESSA was developed in a collaborative process, fits the state’s context and focuses attention and support where schools need it most.

Having received federal approval of the state’s ESSA plan in May, the Iowa Department of Education is now preparing to meet two other ESSA requirements in December:

  • Identify schools for support and improvement (Comprehensive and Targeted) every three years based on their performance on a set of measures;
  • Publish report cards reflecting performance of the state, schools and school districts on these measures.

In December, we will release the school identifications, or determinations, as well as a new online report card called the Iowa School Performance Profiles.

These requirements reflect a continued focus on school accountability and equity for all students – in other words, ensuring support for schools that need it most so that students have the same opportunities for success as those in other schools.

School Determinations

Schools may be identified for support and improvement based on their scores on the following accountability measures: Student participation on state assessments, academic achievement (proficiency and average scale score), student growth, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency, and a student survey of safety, engagement, and overall environment (Conditions for Learning).

These measures are weighted in a way that emphasizes student growth. We took this approach because it was clear that Iowans craved a change from the previous federal accountability system, which over-emphasized proficiency. While proficiency absolutely matters, schools also deserve credit for making significant growth and progress with students.

A school will be identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement if its overall score falls within the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in the state or its graduation rate falls below 67.1 percent. A school will be identified for Targeted Support and Improvement if one or more student subgroup score is as low as the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state.

Identified schools will receive additional support from the state, are eligible for federal funding to help them improve (Title I schools only), and will develop school improvement plans with support from the state and with input from local stakeholders. Schools that have demonstrated consistent improvement after three years will shed the Comprehensive and Targeted designation.

Iowa School Performance Profiles

The Iowa School Performance Profiles will play a key role in this new system for accountability and support by helping state and local stakeholders understand how schools are serving students.

The website will reflect how schools performed on the core measures that contribute to a school’s accountability determination. This mobile-friendly website will display a school’s score based on overall performance, as well as scores based on the performance of student subgroups.

Because the site serves as a reporting tool, we will update data annually. Scores will be included for public schools regardless of whether they were identified for support and improvement.

It’s important to note that this new reporting tool is not the same as the Iowa School Report Card website, developed three years ago to meet a state legislative requirement.

However, we plan to merge the two sites in 2019 to ensure Iowa has one report card that meets both state and federal requirements.

Support for Schools

I believe the true power of Iowa’s new system for accountability and support lies in the support available to schools.

State support provided to schools will be delivered through a collaboration between the Department and the AEA system. There is an entire evidence-based system set up to help identify root causes of performance issues, to find strengths, to put in place improvement plans, and to evaluate what’s working.

About $4 million in federal funding will be available to Title I schools that are identified for Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement. Iowa’s area education agencies will receive another $2 million in federal funding to provide direct support to schools.

The Department has been working to prepare districts and schools for the upcoming release of school accountability results. Please continue to watch your email and the ESSA Timeline for more information.

Thanks for all you do for Iowa’s learners

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 20, 2021 at 6:29pm.