Charter school classroom

Students participate in school work in a classroom setting.

(The Center Square) – Iowa’s grades on a national education report card largely remained stable since 2019, amid national decreases.

Iowa was among 10 states whose scores in grade 4 math didn’t change, 22 states and jurisdictions whose scores in fourth-grade reading didn’t change and 18 states and jurisdictions whose eighth-grade reading didn’t change, a National Center for Education Statistics news release said.

Yet, along with every jurisdiction save Utah and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity schools, Iowa’s eighth-grade math scores sank. In Utah and U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity schools, those scores didn’t change.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress said that in 2022, the average score of eighth-grade students in Iowa was 277, which is four points above this year’s national average for public school students and lower than Iowa’s 2019 score, 282, and 2003 score, 284. The percentage of students in Iowa who met or exceeded the NAEP Proficient level was 28% in 2022, down from 33% in both 2019 and 2003. The percentage of Iowa students who performed at or above the Basic level was 67% this year, down from 72% in 2019 and 76% in 2003.

Iowa’s eighth-grade math scores were lower compared with seven other states or jurisdictions, higher than 27 and about the same as 17.

While the performance gaps between Black and White students, Hispanic and White students, and boys and girls in Iowa did not significantly vary from 2003, the performance gap widened between students who were eligible for the National School Lunch Program and their fellow students. That gap rose from 24 percentage points in 2003 to 30 percentage points in 2022.

Rural school students performed better on fourth-grade math and eighth-grade math in 2022. In fourth grade, the gap grew from a statistically insignificant five points in 2007 to a statistically significant eight points in 2022. In eighth grade, the gap grew from 11 points in 2007 to 15 in 2022. In 2013, high school seniors in urban areas performed slightly better than rural students, with a two-point difference.

The gap between rural and urban fourth-grade reading scores also gained statistical significance as rural students gained seven points in their lead over city students. In 2007, the gap was four points. It rose to 11 points in 2022. The eighth-grade gap grew from seven points in 2007 to 12 points in 2022.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Monday that the department will issue within the next week another resource for education leaders regarding how to use American Rescue Plan funds to address learning loss. The department will also launch a new series on tools to accelerate students’ learning in math and reading.

Iowa Department of Education has a dashboard displaying local education agencies’ American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief use of fund plans, which were last updated in August 2021.

Gov. Kim Reynolds seized the moment to praise the state for being the first in the nation to resume in-person learning in August 2020.

“Now, the first pandemic-era math and reading results reported today by the National Assessment of Educational Progress prove we did the right thing. … While we still have work to do to improve educational performance in Iowa, our students are ahead of their peers across the country because we kept our schools open and gave parents the choice of what was best for their children,” she said.

Chalkbeat reported that in fourth-grade math, states where schools were fully open for longer tended to see smaller declines in scores and there was a small correlation for eighth grade math and fourth grade reading as well, but there was no correlation for eighth-grade reading, yet the analysis can’t prove causation.