List of Iowa districts with 500 or fewer students

Of Iowa’s 327 public school districts, 104 districts have an enrollment of 500 or fewer students, according to the Iowa Department of Education’s latest numbers, released in December. RELATED STORY: Iowa rural educators say ‘student first’ proposal undermines them

1. Adair-Casey Community School District: 252.6

2. Albert City-Truesdale Community School District: 92.0

3. Alden Community School District: 143.0

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Ruthven-Ayrshire school leaders focus on social-emotional success, too

Editor’s note: IowaWatch in a year-long investigation found that although each state is required to identify the bottom-scoring 5 percent of Title I schools every three years, it doesn’t mean these schools are “failing,” as some Iowa policymakers label them. Iowa’s 34 schools are on a “comprehensive” list. IowaWatch is featuring some of them. Less than a year into comprehensive designations, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools across the country in March 2020. This effectively pressed pause and added a fourth year to schools on comprehensive lists.

Educators at Iowa’s ‘failing schools’ say they are used as part of political agenda

How do educators at 34 Iowa schools feel about spending the past year hearing elected officials say they are running “failing schools”? Leaders at 13 schools explained the shortcomings of the metric that assigned them the “failing” label, as well as the unique challenges students and staff confronted — even before legislation introduced at the Statehouse singled them out as places where families could get state assistance to leave, they told IowaWatch. “Failing schools” is hyperbole for schools designated by the state as “comprehensive.” These are the Title I schools that score in the bottom 5 percent in the state based on students’ performance on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress test, and/or for high schools, have a graduation rate below 67.1 percent. IowaWatch in a year-long investigation found that although each state is required to identify the bottom-scoring 5 percent of Title I schools every three years, it doesn’t mean these schools are “failing.”

A common misconception is that all schools are the same, said Jason Aker, principal of Baxter Elementary School in Baxter. “‘Thirty-four failing schools’ is a really crummy way of saying that, because the answer is simple; it’s the bottom 5 percent.

Evans: Senate change won’t better inform Iowans

Typically, in the days leading up to the start of a new session of the Iowa Legislature, the attention is on lawmakers’ goals and priorities — and on the pledges they make to work together for the good of the people of Iowa. This year, however, Republican leaders who control the Iowa Senate announced a controversial decision that erases more than a century of openness — evicting journalists from the floor of the Senate chamber. This ill-conceived action makes Iowa an outlier among the legislatures in the 50 states. You could count on one hand those that do not allow journalists on the floor of their legislative chambers. Nowhere in their decision do Senate leaders pretend this change will better inform the people of Iowa about the important work the Senate does.

Evans: Public must be informed in doctor discipline

The Iowa Legislature’s “to do” list should be a little longer after last week. And people need to contact their senators and representatives in the Legislature to make sure they understand their duty is to protect the health and safety of Iowans. The reason? The Iowa Supreme Court handed down a decision Friday that will pretty much keep the public in the dark when a physician is charged by state regulators with professional misconduct. For decades, the Iowa Board of Medicine released the facts and legal basis for disciplinary charges the board filed against doctors. That basis might include a physician being impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at a Romney rally in Dubuque. (Photo by Emily Hoerner)

Evans: Neither party is immune from ineptitude

Do the folks in politics think we are asleep? Do they really believe no one is paying attention to what politicians are up to? It’s not surprising if you have acid indigestion these days. A few examples illustrate why I might need a tanker truck of Maalox. SENATE RACE.