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Iowa Department of Education goals and greatest challenge

posted on September 16, 2009 at 5:28 PM

Judy Jeffrey says the goal is to help every student achieve their highest potential, but the achievement gap indicates some populations of students need to be better served. Jeffrey is the director of the Iowa Department of Education.

The goal of the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education is to have every student achieve to their highest potential.  We want them to be ready for post-secondary education or whatever they choose to do beyond high school, and we want every student to have a high school diploma.

The greatest challenge we have right now in reaching that goal is the achievement gaps that we experience in a state that has really a very high quality education system, but we simply are not meeting the needs of all of our students.  We have achievement gaps for our African-American students, for our Hispanic students, for students with disabilities and for our students who do not speak English as their first language.  And these are really the challenges that we're facing in Iowa right now.

We are making gains in fourth and eighth grade to begin to close that gap, but we are not making it at eleventh grade, and to give you an example of what I mean by the gaps that exist.  At fourth grade reading we have about a thirty percentage difference between our white students and our African-American students and our Hispanic students.  For example our students last year were achieving at about 82% of them were declared proficient.  While our African-American students about 56% of them and our Hispanic students about 61%.

So, that's a major gap that we have and you would see those gaps at fourth grade, eighth grade and eleventh grade, and it's not just our children and poverty.  When I begin to pull out the children who are living in poverty compared to those who are not we still see the gaps between our white students and our African-American and Hispanic.  Not as great, but they're still there.

Tags: education Iowa Language and Literacy principals schools students