Iowa DOE Attendance Center Ranking System

I’m writing to make all aware of a new state website that provides Iowans a snapshot of how our public schools and school districts are performing in two areas: student proficiency rates and growth toward college and career readiness.

This website enables users to look up this information for any public school or district; including South Hamilton.

One may find the new website,, a good source of information.

The website was developed by the Iowa Department of Education as an initial step in meeting a specific requirement of the 2013 education reform law. The law requires the Department to evaluate and rank schools based on their performance on nine specific measures and to post this information on its website under “District” tab).

Even though this website contains a great deal information, I personally believe the way the system ranks schools from “low” to “high” and makes some schools look good at the expense of others, is not appropriate in this cases.  Acknowledging schools for performing well is appropriate, but publicly distressing schools for not performing well seems to be a flawed concept.

This evaluation system is under further development, and we expect to see a more complete system later this coming year. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the system will be rolled out in phases this year and next year. It’s important to note that the new website available now does not represent the complete evaluation system. Instead, it represents the performance of each public school and district on two of the nine measures required by the law:

  • Student proficiency rates: The percentage of students proficient in math and reading in grades 3-8 and 11 based on state assessment results. Iowa’s definition of “proficient” means performing at a basic level. Proficiency does not necessarily put students on the path to college and career readiness.
  • Growth toward college and career readiness: The percentage of students who met a growth target needed to be college and career ready. The Department has worked with our state assessment developer to link the Iowa Assessments to the college and career readiness benchmarks defined by ACT. The growth measure sets an expectation that all students will make progress each year and will be ready for college by the end of 12th grade.
  • The other seven performance measures are: Attendance rates, parent involvement, employee turnover, community activities and involvement, graduation rate, college readiness, and closing achievement gaps.

It is believed this information can complement conversations in our community about our work to provide students a great education. However, student performance data only tells part of the story about how local schools are doing. To get the full story, I encourage you to stay connected with our schools and take a broader look at all aspects of the educational experience as much as possible.

Thanks for all you do for our kids.

Mr. Ken Howard