Resource Data

Data shows how Iowa compares to other states

When Iowans consider what Hawkeye State is best known for, the Iowa caucuses, corn and pork production, and the Iowa State Fair may come to the fore. ‘spirit. But historians say many Iowans also put education at the top of the list. “Iowa’s education system has always been something Iowans have been proud of,” said Leo Landis, state curator at the State Historical Society of Iowa. “Our educational history is really rich and dates back to the 1850s. Iowa created a free public school system quite early.” Parents strolling through the State Historical Museum on a summer Friday afternoon agreed. “I think we’ve always had a very proud parenting tradition in Iowa,” said Des Moines mother Marcy Luft. And Sarah Harvey, mum of Urbandale, agreed. “I think it’s something we’re proud of and have been proud of for a long time,” Luft said. This pride even made its way to the Iowa State Quarter, which was established in 2004. The words “Foundation in Education” are printed on each piece. “Even nearly 20 years ago, when the people of Iowa were trying to find out what we want people using U.S. currency to know about our state, you remind people that what our state is proud of is is education,” Landis said. . But has Iowa’s top reputation changed? Harvey, who is also a teacher from Iowa, says yes. “There has been a shift over the past few years,” Harvey said. “But as teachers, we hope the community can continue to be proud of the school systems.” If you go online and search for “Best States for Education”, you will find several national organizations ranking states by Pre-K-12th grade. World Population Review ranks Iowa no. 13, Wallet Hub puts Iowa in the no. 19, and US News and World Report, one of the most well-known organizations for education rankings, ranks Iowa at no. 24. Margaret Buckton of Iowa Schools Financial Information Services says the National Educational Progress Assessment Test could play a key role in these rankings. It’s the same test given every two years to fourth and eighth graders in every state. “In the 1990s, Iowa ranked in the top five in just about every comparison of reading and math scores on the NAEP test,” Buckton said. . But the most recent data from the NAEP shows that in 2019, Iowa fell to the middle of the pack. “It’s not that our education system has deteriorated. It’s that others have improved and we’re not statistically significantly different from about 15 states in that middle of the pack.” She says Iowa can learn from states that have risen through the ranks. “Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York were all in the bottom half in the 90s. They set up statewide standards and high expectations, and then also funded things like training. teachers,” she said. “They have formulas that provide resources to public schools that recognize poverty, because it may take a little longer to provide everything low-income students need, and then they add more time for instruction. They have also slightly lower grades than ours in Iowa.” But she also said it’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison when looking at NAEP scores. For example, she said that after a school choice program was implemented in Florida, more students with disabilities moved to private schools that don’t take the NAEP test. Florida also retains third-graders who are not fluent in reading. “Florida has moved up the ranks, but is that really a reflection of how all of their kids are doing? And because the NAEP doesn’t test in private schools, that’s not the case,” said declared Button. Other metrics show Iowa excelling. Iowa’s high school graduation rate is the highest in the nation. Iowa is also among the top three states that test more than half of their students on the ACT test, students often take the exam for college admissions. But Iowa is falling behind in state spending to educate every student. According to statistics from the National Center for Education, Iowa spent more per student than the national average in the 1970s and 1980s. But in 1990, Iowa was $453 below the national average. In 2018-19, the most recent data, this shortfall rose to $1,254. When it comes to evaluating the performance of Iowa public schools, Buckton says it’s not black and white. She encourages parents to get involved in their child’s school and to look beyond the rankings. “It’s really complicated to answer, isn’t it? I think people should take a step back, breathe and think about the opportunities that are available to our children and how do we know that we are supporting them as family, as a community and as a state,” she said.

When Iowans consider what Hawkeye State is best known for, the Iowa caucuses, corn and pork production, and the Iowa State Fair may come to the fore. ‘spirit. But historians say many Iowans also put education at the top of the list.

“Iowa’s education system has always been something Iowans have been proud of,” said Leo Landis, state curator at the State Historical Society of Iowa. “Our educational history is really rich and dates back to the 1850s. Iowa created a free public school system quite early.”

Parents strolling through the State Historical Museum on a summer Friday afternoon agreed.

“I think we’ve always had a very proud parenting tradition in Iowa,” said Des Moines mother Marcy Luft. And Sarah Harvey, mum of Urbandale, agreed.

“I think it’s something we’re proud of and have been proud of for a long time,” Luft said.

This pride even made its way to the Iowa State Ward, which was established in 2004. The words “Foundation in Education” are printed on each piece.

“Even nearly 20 years ago, when the people of Iowa were trying to find out what we want people using U.S. currency to know about our state, you remind people that what our state is proud of is is education,” Landis said.

But has Iowa’s top reputation changed? Harvey, who is also a teacher from Iowa, says yes.

“There has been a shift over the past few years,” Harvey said. “But as teachers, we hope the community can continue to be proud of the school systems.”

If you go online and search for “Best States for Education”, you will find several national organizations ranking states by pre-K-12th grade. World Population Review ranks Iowa no. 13, Wallet Hub puts Iowa in the no. 19, and US News and World Report, one of the most well-known organizations for education rankings, ranks Iowa at no. 24.

Margaret Buckton of Iowa School Finance Information Services says the National Education Progress Assessment test could play a key role in those rankings. It’s the same test given every two years to fourth and eighth graders in every state.

“In the 1990s, Iowa ranked in the top five in just about every comparison of NAEP test scores in reading and math,” Buckton said. But the most recent data from the NAEP shows that in 2019, Iowa fell to the middle of the pack.

“It’s interesting. Students in Iowa test their scores slightly better than they did in the 90s,” Buckton explained. “It’s not that our education system has deteriorated. It’s that others have improved and we’re not statistically significantly different from about 15 states in the middle of the pack.”

She says Iowa can learn from states that have moved up the ranks.

“Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York were all in the bottom half in the 90s. They set up statewide standards and high expectations, and then also funded things like training. teachers,” she said. “They have formulas that provide resources to public schools that recognize poverty, because it may take a little longer to provide everything low-income students need, and then they add more time for instruction. They have also slightly lower grades than ours in Iowa.”

But she also said it’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison when looking at NAEP scores. For example, she said that after a school choice program was implemented in Florida, more students with disabilities moved to private schools that don’t take the NAEP test. Florida also retains third-graders who are not fluent in reading.

“Florida has moved up the ranks, but does that really reflect how all of their kids are doing? And because the NAEP doesn’t test in private schools, that’s not the case,” said Buckton said.

Other metrics show Iowa excelling. Iowa’s high school graduation rate is the highest in the nation. Iowa is also in the top three states that test more than half of their students on the ACT test, students often take the exam for college admissions.

But Iowa is falling behind on state spending to educate every student. According to statistics from the National Center for Education, Iowa spent more per student than the national average in the 1970s and 1980s.

But in 1990, Iowa was $453 below the national average. In 2018-19, the most recent data, this shortfall rose to $1,254.

When it comes to evaluating the performance of Iowa public schools, Buckton says it’s not black and white. She encourages parents to get involved in their child’s school and to look beyond the rankings.

“It’s really complicated to answer, isn’t it? I think people should take a step back, breathe and think about the opportunities that are available to our children and how do we know that we are supporting them as family, as a community and as a state,” she said.