Twenty Iowa high schools have been chosen to participate in a federally-supported effort to measure and improve conditions for learning, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced.
The schools will study issues such as bullying, school safety, attendance and student engagement over the next four years with support through the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Supportive Schools grant.
Iowa was one of 11 states to be awarded nearly $3.5 million in federal money this year, and nearly $14 million over the next four years, through the grant program.
Earlier this year, 60 Iowa schools were randomly selected to participate in the first-ever “Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools” survey of students, parents and teachers. The goal was to measure student safety and student relationships with peers and adults and to determine whether students have adequate resources in their schools. Leaders in 47 of the 60 schools agreed to participate in the survey, which was administered this spring and summer.
“I commend the 47 Iowa high schools willing to participate in this important program,” Lt. Gov. Reynolds said. “While every school is forced to address issues such as bullying, attendance and student engagement, these 47 schools have taken the extra step to study these issues and develop ways to improve overall conditions for learning. If Iowa is once again going to be a leader in education, improving conditions for learning both inside and outside the classroom must be part of the equation.”
The grant money will be used to support the 20 schools with the lowest scores on the survey, or the lowest “Safe and Supportive Index.” It is important to understand these are NOT the lowest scores in the state; instead, the selected schools showed the greatest opportunity for improvement based on results and scoring.
The Iowa Department of Education, in conjunction with area education agencies, will work directly with each of the selected schools to design and implement activities that improve conditions for learning.
“This is the first time in our state’s history we have measured conditions for learning and made the results available for schools to use to strengthen classrooms,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass. “Studies show improving conditions for learning can lead to higher test scores and better student attitudes. We look forward to working with each of the participating schools over the next four years to carry out their ideas and develop best practices to be used by Iowa high schools throughout the state.”
Information will be gathered each year for four years. By the fourth year, the final survey will show the nation that Iowa is a leader in improving conditions for learning.