Iowa students began taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as NAEP in 1992.
It’s a test that compares states in subjects like reading and math.
Iowa was once the gold standard in public education, but times have changed.
“Iowa has fallen to the middle of the rankings since then. Our scores have been stagnant for some time,” said Linda Fandel, special education assistant to Governor Brandstad.
However, it was revealed last week that scores in 4th and 8th grade reading improved for the first time in four years.
You’d think that would be a good sign, but the executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards says not so fast.
“There’s not a lot to celebrate. We look across the trend lines from the past twenty years and we remain stagnant in our student achievement,” said Tom Downs.
Downs acknowledges results in 2013 show a three point jump since 2011, but he says they are still a point lower than in 2007.
In 8th grade reading, scores jumped four points since 2011, but only a single point in the last decade.
Downs says any gains are a good start, but scores over the next decade will mean more as we see how education reform affects student performance.
A greater emphasis is being placed on attracting and retaining top teachers and stricter standards for what students need to learn will be in place through the Iowa Core.
Downs says the next step is creating a standardized test that better matches those standards.
“Until we get that assessment aligned with the Iowa Core, how can we expect students to do better on national tests,” said Downs.
You can see how Iowa did compared to other states here.