Iowa School Report Cards

The latest version of the attendance center rankings, rebranded as Iowa School Report Card, was released this morning.

The version released earlier this year showed only two metrics (proficiency and growth), if I recall correctly. Results were displayed in a graph format, with all schools plotted on the same graph. There were certainly problems with the web tool, however, once a school was located it was easy to see how it compared to all other schools in the state.

This latest version incorporates six to eight measures and assigns an overall rating to each school. The measures are proficiency, closing achievement gap, college and career ready growth, college and career readiness (middle and high school only), graduation rate (high school only), annual expected growth, attendance, and staff retention.

Schools are searched and displayed independently, with information about statewide averages. Additional information can be found on subgroup performance by choosing options in the Educational Measures menu. There is a lot of information here, but I’d like to see an easier way to compare specific buildings to each other. I think I’d also like to see a way to search for demographically similar buildings to compare to one another.

This, from page 8 of the Technical Guide, caught my eye:

The report card relies heavily on the Iowa Assessment results across several metrics used in the ratings. Proficiency, growth, college readiness and closing the achievement gaps measures all are generated from Iowa Assessment results. While each of these metrics focuses on answering a different question about performance, there is inherent risk in relying on one tool for many measures. To provide balance other measures such as attendance, graduation rate and staff retention are also included in the system. Additional measures such as parental and community activities and involvement will be included when they are available. Any reporting system can be criticized for potential pitfalls or disagreement about the methods used. These must be taken into context, but these alone do not invalidate the results.

An important consideration in building any type of performance rating or improvement system is the overall cost. Cost can be quantified in multiple ways. For example, there [is] the cost to implement new assessment[s] or the time it would take for students to take a new assessment which might be used in the report card. There are other types of cost such as the time it take for school district personnel to collect and report new data or measures to be included. Existing measures and collection mechanisms were used to meet the requirement of creating a report card for all Iowa schools. The purpose was to contain overall costs and decrease the burden of collection and reporting for Iowa school personnel. (Emphasis added.)

Note that costs will go up as we transition to new assessments and there will be ongoing concerns with using a single assessment for so many purposes.

Find FAQs here and the quick guide here.

Here’s how ICCSD schools are currently rated (Tate could not be rated, Alexander Elementary not included because it just opened):


  • Borlaug Elementary
  • Lincoln Elementary
  • Shimek Elementary


  • North Central Junior High School


  • Hills Elementary
  • Hoover Elementary
  • Lemme Elementary
  • Longfellow Elementary
  • Van Allen Elementary
  • Northwest Junior High School
  • West High School


  • Coralville Central Elementary
  • Garner Elementary
  • Horn Elementary
  • Penn Elementary
  • Wickham Elementary
  • Southeast Junior High School
  • City High School

Needs Improvement

  • Grant Wood Elementary
  • Horace Mann Elementary
  • Lucas Elementary
  • Weber Elementary


  • Kirkwood Elementary
  • Twain Elementary


Are these ratings useful? Here’s one answer from Des Moines Schools Superintendent Tom Ahart.

ADDED: And another answer from Scott McLeod, Iowa school poverty and report card rankings.

ADDED: Press-Citizen: Civil rights leaders criticize Iowa’s new school measure [See also comments on lack of minority representation on education committees.]