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Iowa’s schools are succeeding

Our state has achieved its best-ever high school graduation rate

Iowans have long put a priority on education. It wasn’t long after pioneer families settled in our state that one-room schoolhouses became common sights. A commitment to learning was evident all across Iowa in the earliest days. It remains so today.

In the 21st century, schools have evolved into high-tech centers of learning. Our state invests heavily in education. Making it possible for schools to offer state-of-the-art scientific, computer, technological and mathematics courses has been a key goal of Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Consequently, it was with great pride that the governor just announced some very good news. The high school graduation rate in Iowa has reached a record high. In 2019, it was 91.6 percent.

“This latest success is directly tied to our strong K-12 education system and Iowa’s innovative, engaging approach to education, which shapes the lives of our young people as well as the economic vitality of our state,” Reynolds said. “We’re transforming how students learn by connecting what they’re taught in the classroom to the career opportunities that a 21st century economy demands.”

The 91.6 percent statistic is for students who graduate in four years. Some take a little longer to finish their studies. When those who take five years to finish high school successfully were included in the calculation the graduation rate for the Class of 2018 was 93.5 percent.

It speaks well of both Iowa’s students and the commitment to education of their parents that the school dropout rate is impressively low. For grades nine through 12 it was just 2.61 percent in the most recent year for which numbers are available.

For the most part, the quality of the schooling all across Iowa is exceptional. Iowa’s students consistently rank high in comparison with those in other states on assorted measures of academic performance. That’s true for both the state’s excellent public schools and its many fine private institutions.

Iowans are proud that our state has long been at or very near the top of the list when states are ranked according to graduation rates. The success achieved in 2019, however, doesn’t mean we should be satisfied with that year’s impressive graduation rate. The State Board of Education has set a graduation-rate goal of 95 percent for the years ahead. That is a daunting, but achievable target.

The Messenger congratulates state officials, local school boards and Iowa’s educators for helping bring about this impressive graduation rate. Parents who support our young people as they move through their educational journey also deserve praise. We also laud our state’s students for their determination to succeed. There are many reasons to be proud of Iowa. This record-breaking graduation rate is most certainly one of them.

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