Monday, June 25, 2007

Iowa-Bound: A Snapshot of Our Schools

We head out to Iowa tomorrow to launch the ED in 08 campaign on the ground there. This will be the third state (after South Carolina and New Hampshire) where we have established a presence.

I don’t mean to pick on Iowa, or any other state, but it does illustrate the problems we are trying to shine a light on – which is that we are not doing right by our young students.

According to Iowa’s own standards, 79 percent of fourth graders are proficient in math. On the National Assessment of Education Progress test, however, only 37 percent rate as proficient.

How do we explain to these youngsters that 42-point difference?

It’s the same with eighth grade reading: 71 percent rate proficient on the state test, but only 34 percent on the national test.

That’s why we need a consistent set of American standards, so that every student will know where he or she stands, no matter where they live.

Twenty percent of Iowa high school students drop out before graduating.  That's a lot better than most of the nation.  But it's still a great loss to many students.

 The latest research shows that 66 percent of all the new jobs our economy is going to create will require a college education. Right now only 64 percent of freshmen in Iowa’s colleges and universities actually earn a degree. Who will fill those jobs?

All of us Americans – not just the folks in Iowa – owe our young students an education that will prepare them for college, for the workplace and for life. And we’re just not delivering right now.

Join Us in Des Moines

If you live in the Des Moines area, come on out tomorrow, June 26, to the Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater. We’ll be starting at 10:30 Central Time.

If you see me, come over and  say hello.  Tell me how we can make the campaign more effective.


In your post you mention Iowa's 4th grade math and 8th grade reading test scores. Did you mean to say 4th grade reading and 8th grade math scores instead? The Gannett tool you mentioned in an earlier post shows the NAEP/state differences for 4th grade reading and 8th grade math scores.

Posted by John DeJong (Email) at 6/25/2007 3:00:11 PM
Thank you for you comment.

While the excellent Gannett tool does provide comparisons for the 4th grade reading and 8th grade math scores, the numbers I used in this post are for 4th grade math and 8th grade reading and come from a study by The Education Trust (2005) called Primary Progress, Secondary Challenge: A State-by-State Look at Student Achievement Patterns. I just chose to use different statistics this time.

Posted by rromer (Email | Visit) at 6/25/2007 4:33:21 PM
I have been working in public schools for 30 years. The last 18 years were spent trying to get schools to reform. It is a hopeless, thankless task. So what is your plan. Don't say more teacher is not the problem.

Posted by mary kay (Email | Visit) at 6/25/2007 8:00:10 PM
I believe firmly that improving our schools is not a hopeless task. We've seen from local initiatives that great strides are possible. But making progress on a nationwide scale will require strong national leadership and a focus on serious and substantive reforms. See our policy primer for what we have in mind ---

Posted by rromer (Email | Visit) at 6/26/2007 8:39:15 AM
I read your Email today and sent Michel Martin a question for the candidates as you suggested. The question related to the inequality in the public schools with regard to the distribution of qualified teachers.I don't perceive that this issue is yet getting the attention it merits. Perhaps if people, and the candidates realized the opportunity to substantially reduce crime, poverty etc it would motivate them to ACT.

Posted by Arthur Tannenbaum (Email | Visit) at 6/26/2007 1:58:04 PM

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