Education is a key ingredient

A bright tomorrow requires outstanding schools

Making sure that our state’s schools enable students to achieve up to their potential is absolutely vital to the Hawkeye State’s future. That’s why Gov. Kim Reynolds and her team have made making and keeping Iowa’s educational system the envy of the nation a top priority.

Setting appropriate performance standards for students and measuring how well schools are helping them reach educational goals are key parts of the governor’s strategy. With that in mind, the State Board of Education has just approved new achievement targets.

“Our students must be ready to meet the demands of the 21st century,” Gov. Reynolds said in a statement announcing that new performance levels have been established. “Iowa’s new state test introduces higher expectations and new measurements to better assess student progress as well as improve accountability in our education system. Partnering with educators and students, our state will continue to ensure access to STEM, computer science and work-based learning programs to better prepare our young people for their future success.”

Iowa has recently implemented a new state testing system to track student achievement. It makes it possible for officials to track more accurately just how well students are doing. That will help identify readily areas where improvements are needed.

This year the new Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress testing system replaced the previous Iowa Assessments tests. The improved evaluation methodology goes beyond the traditional multiple-choice approach so familiar to most of us. According to state officials, it includes an online format and assesses student writing proficiency.

This spring, students took the new tests for the first time. Those in grades 3 through 11 took English language arts and math tests. Those in grades 5, 8 and 10 were tested on science. Results by school district and school are scheduled to be released in October.

The strengthened performance goals and improved testing system will help Iowa’s schools better prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world.

“Having challenging statewide academic standards and a state test that better measures progress in meeting the standards will help prepare students for the demands of postsecondary education and the workforce,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Iowa has the right roadmap in place to prepare all students for success in high school and beyond.”

The Messenger agrees. We commend state officials for making our school system better able to meet tomorrow’s needs. We also take pride in how well our state is coping with a broad range of the educational challenges. Already, we have the nation’s highest high school graduation rate at 91 percent. Beyond that a focus on science, technology, engineering and math education is making our schools very much in sync with future workplace needs.