During my school days in Iowa, year after year I remember hearing how we were on top of the rankings in every educational survey you would see. I may not have contributed very heavily to that standing personally, but in the Hawkeye state, education has long been one of our many priorities.
Even in the past two years, when we've been hearing about how much the pandemic has affected kids in school, the trend has still been different in Iowa. KMEG says an annual survey is out on high school graduation rates, and after years of progress, Iowa suffered a barely noticeable slip.
Since 2011, high school graduation has risen overall by 2 percent, and that includes among students in low-income households by 4.2 percent. According to KMEG:
Iowa’s five-year graduation rate, which reflects students who were part of a graduating class but took an extra year to finish high school, was 93.5 % for the Class of 2020, down slightly from 93.8 % for the Class of 2019.
That's a drop barely worth mentioning and barely noticeable. But any slip is a concern for educators, and yes, they are blaming it almost solely on the effects of the pandemic. Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo said:
Students transitioned between learning models while facing a multitude of challenges during the 2020-21 school year. Our focus is on the success of all students and I am proud of the work that our school partners are doing to accelerate learning and to continue to support the individual needs of their students.
In some not-so-good news, overall dropout rates went from 2.2 percent in 2019/20 to 2.9 percent in 2020/21. Again, any slip in progress is concerning, but growing up in Iowa's education system still very clearly puts you at a major advantage.
The Iowa Department of Education has a further breakdown of the numbers here.