NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 2, 2006

At their first caucus before the 2006 legislative session, Iowa House Republicans suggested a plan to improve the educational options of Iowa high school seniors, says Robert Stewart, a research analyst with Public Interest Institute.

Assuming that a student completes the graduation requirements of his or her school district in three years, a new Iowa plan calls for the state to give that student the state aid that would be spent to educate him or her during the senior year. This amount, currently about $5,000, would take the form of a scholarship to an Iowa college, university or community college.

The House Republicans are targeting the senior year in response to complaints from parents and students that the senior year is not challenging and, frankly, a waste of time. Consider:

  • Most high schools only require two years of math and science to graduate, though the three state universities require three years for admission.
  • Some 10 percent of college freshmen who graduated from Iowa high schools went on academic probation at the three state universities during the 2003-2004 school year.
  • Regarding Advanced Placement courses, "nationally recognized for being the best preparation for college," the Iowa Department of Education reported that 45.3 percent of Iowa high schools offered them in 2003; the national average that year was 59.9 percent.

Stewart asserts that Iowa's schools have a responsibility to provide students with a challenging and meaningful academic experience. When schools can no longer fulfill this responsibility, students must have the option of moving on.

Source: Robert Stewart, "A Step Forward for Education Reform in Iowa," Public Interest Institute, November 2005.


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