Report: Many Iowa schools not meeting standards

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — About two-thirds of Iowa's public schools did not meet educational targets set by the No Child Left Behind Law during the latest academic year, according to a report released Tuesday.

The annual report from the Iowa Department of Education found 66 percent of 1,288 public schools missed targets for test participation and proficiency in reading and mathematics during the 2013-2014 school year. About five percent of Iowa schools are not included in this result because they were given a waiver to try a different type of assessment.

During the previous school year, 64 percent of 1,361 schools did not meet the standards set by the law.

Department of Education Director Brad Buck said the accountability standards set by the federal law are not working well in Iowa, arguing they don't properly reflect progress made in schools.

"While I believe in accountability, No Child Left Behind has outlived its usefulness. This is a flawed law," Buck said. "We must have a rigorous accountability system that acknowledges the strides schools are making."

The federal law requires annual testing to show proficiency in reading and mathematics. Some states have received waivers granting permission to ignore parts of the law. Iowa has applied, but has not been granted any overall exemption.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for a replacement to No Child Left Behind. He has said the existing law does not allow school leaders to use common sense to determine which schools are failing and which are statistical anomalies.

According to the report, Iowa saw gains in middle school reading and math in the 2013-2014 school year compared with the previous year.

Buck said parents of school age children in Iowa should get more information from their local district about how their schools are performing, because this report may not tell the full story.

"I would invite them to deeply engage in their local schools," Buck said. "The message to me, is parents if you're not already involved, we encourage you to already get involved."

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