Sunday, June 12, 2005
Measuring Up: The National Report Card on Higher Education -- Iowa, 2004
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Iowa has performed well in preparing students for and enrolling them in higher education over the past decade. However, the state has lost ground in providing students and families with an affordable higher education. This may undercut its efforts to send clear messages to students about the importance of taking rigorous courses and being prepared academically during high school.
IMPROVEMENT OVER PAST DECADE
- Iowa is a top-performer in the proportion of high school students enrolling in upper-level science; this proportion has increased substantially over the past decade.
- Over the decade, Iowa’s 8th graders have consistently performed well on national assessments in math.
- Iowa is a top-performing state in the percentage of secondary school students taught by qualified teachers. The state’s performance on this measure has increased substantially over the past decade.
- Iowa is a top-performing state in the likelihood of high school students enrolling in college within four years. The state has consistently been a top performer on this measure.
- Iowa performs fairly well in the percentage of community college students returning for their second year. This percentage has increased substantially over the past decade—in contrast to the nationwide decline on this measure.
- A very large proportion of freshmen at four-year colleges and universities return for their sophomore year. This proportion has remained very high over the decade.
- A very large percentage of first-time, full-time students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling in college.
- Iowa has consistently been a top performer in the proportion of students completing certificates and degrees relative to the number enrolled.
- The percentage of residents who have a bachelor’s degree has increased substantially over the past decade—more than the national increase on this measure.
- The state’s low-income 8th graders do not perform well on national assessments in math. Whereas the nation has improved on this measure, Iowa has seen a substantial decline.
- Very low proportions of 11th and 12th graders take and score well on Advanced Placement exams.
- Compared with other states, a very small percentage of working-age adults are enrolled part-time in college-level education or training.
- Net college costs for low- and middle-income students to attend public two- or four-year colleges represent about 40% of their annual income. (Net college costs equal tuition, room, and board minus financial aid.)
- Can the state use financial aid programs more effectively to meet the needs of students from low-income families?
- Can Iowa provide more opportunities for working-age adults to enroll in higher education?
- Can the state’s two-year colleges be made more affordable, particularly for low- and middle-income families?