13 eastern Iowa schools labeled 'low-achieving' by Dept. of Ed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

13 eastern Iowa schools labeled 'low-achieving' by Dept. of Ed

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Thirteen eastern Iowa schools have been labeled "persistently low-achieving" by the Iowa Department of Education.

Eight of the schools are in Waterloo, three are in Cedar Rapids and two are in the Iowa City Community School District.

Despite an increase in reading and math scores for both Mark Twain and Kirkwood elementaries in Iowa City, the schools still fell to the bottom 5 percent of the state when ranking all schools in achievement.

Twain and Kirkwood have been identified as Schools in Need of Assistance, and the district is developing a restructuring plan.

Carolyn Paulaitis, a consultant with the Iowa Department of Education, says this should cause some alarm for districts.

"It would be cause for great concern because these schools are showing up in the bottom 5 percent of the state when ranking all of the schools in their achievement," said Paulaitis.

Chief community affairs officer Chace Ramey with Iowa City Schools says the designation is used by the Iowa Department of Education as a qualification requirement to get federal funds through a competitive federal grant.

The grant gives school districts four models in improving performance -- but only if they want to apply for the grant.

"Because of the way that the formulas are put together, there are schools regardless of achievement that are going to fall into those lowest tiers," said Ramey. "We have strong schools and strong leaderships and tremendous staff at both Twain and Kirkwood, and that wasn't an option for us."

He says the district will stay on its own path already in place to continue moving toward progression.

"Like I said, we think it's a designation and just a recalculation of information we already know through our sign-up designation, and we think we're headed in the right direction," said Ramey.

Johnson Elementary, Taylor Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School in the Cedar Rapids Community School District were also on the list.

Waterloo schools on the list included Carver Academy, Irving, Highland, Lincoln, Lowell, Cunningham, Bunger Middle School and Central Middle School.

The Iowa Department of Education says the average turnaround takes about 3 to 5 years, but they have seen schools get off the "persistently low-achieving" list fairly quickly.

Officials say being consistent in changing instruction and getting proper materials within the school to meet the needs of all students are just some of the ways schools can get off the list.

To see a complete list of Iowa schools on the list, click here.

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