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Public education in Iowa

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K-12 Education in Iowa
State Superintendent: Brad Buck
Number of students: 495,870[1]
Number of teachers: 34,658
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:14.3
Number of school districts: 361
Number of schools: 1,411
Graduation rate: 89%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $9,807[3]
See also
Public education in Iowa
Iowa Department of Education
Iowa school districts
List of school districts in Iowa
The Iowa public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Iowa has 368 school districts.

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Iowa state budget
Iowa's education costs are 56% of the state budget

According to Iowa Governor's recommended FY 2009 appropriations total appropriations for the 2009-2010 fiscal year totaled $6.4 billion. The education budget accounted for $3.6 billion of the total budget.[4]

In late January the Governor submitted a $6.2 billion budget for FY 2010 which included budget cuts across most state departments and no recommendations for tax increases. Culver said that he would like to cut approximately 6.5 percent to almost every state department. However, Culver said that some departments - education, department of corrections, appropriations to meet requirements of the department of justice, Homeland Security, human services, public safety, victims compensation and workforce development, will be exempt from cuts.[5] Additionally, the state approved 8 new taxes to help fund public schools.

The cost per pupil is $9,267, ranking 31st in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[6]

Personnel salaries

According to the Iowa Department of Education the average annual teacher salary for the 2008-09 school year was $49,664; principal salary was $83,610; and superintendents was $111,567. The chart below details the average teacher salary for the 1997-1998 and the 2007-2009 school years.[7]

School year Teachers Principals Superintendents
1997-1998[7] $34,084 $57,060 $70,337
2006-2007[8] $44,062 $77,813 $102,008
2007-2008[9] $46,626 $80,673 $106,191
2008-2009[7] $49,664 $83,610 $111,567

Role of unions

The main union related to the Indiana school system is Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). ISEA is the largest education association in the state. For the 2003 tax period ISEA had: $11.92 million in total revenue, $15.49 million in total expenses and $9.92 million in total assets.[10]

List of local Iowa school unions:[11]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is comprised of ten members, all of which are appointed by the governor. Nine are voting members and serve six-year terms. The tenth member is student member who serves a one-year term. The state education board is responsible for providing "oversight, supervision, and support for the state education system that includes all public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies (AEAs), community colleges, and teacher preparation programs."[12]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Iowa government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Iowa Association of School Boards.


Iowa currently has no statewide, official spending database online. However, some independent state spending databases in Iowa include: the Public Interest Institute and

Academic performance

According to the Iowa Department of Education, in the 2008-2009 school year approximately 81.2% of Grade 4 students met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements for Reading and 81.2% met Mathematics requirements. Results for Grade 4, 6 and 8 are listed below. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools.[13]

Grade Reading (%) Mathematics (%)
Grade 4 81.2% 81.2%
Grade 6 69.7% 74.8%
Grade 8 74.3% 77.0%

Graduation rates

Below are the graduation rates for Iowa public schools from 2000 through 2006, according to the Iowa Department of Education.[13]

Year Total number of graduates Graduation rate (%)
2000 34,189 88.1%
2002 33,789 89.4%
2004 34,339 89.8%
2006 33,693 90.8%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[14] 2011 Education Spending[15] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[16] 2012 Education Spending[17] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[18] 2011 Avg. ACT score[19] 2012 Avg. ACT score[20] 2010 Graduation Rate[21] 2011 Graduation Rate[22]
Iowa $28.3 billion $9.3 billion 32.8% $28.8 billion $9.6 billion 33.3% 22.2 22.3 22.1 86.5% 86.4%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: According to the Department of Education, there were approximately seven charter schools in Iowa in 2010. Charter schools are an alternative to public schools in Iowa. Charter schools must receive approval and oversight by the local school district.[23]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Iowa has one open enrollment policy: inter-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school in any alternative district in the state.[24]
  • Online learning: the state of Iowa has two state-led online programs: the Iowa Online AP Academy and Iowa Learning Online, a supplemental educational tool. Additionally the Kirkwood Community College has an online High School Distance Learning program for students who wish to recover credits.[25]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Iowa Department of Management,"State of Iowa Governor's Recommended FY 2009 General Fund Appropriations," accessed February 20, 2010
  5. The State of Iowa,"Governor Culver releases FY2010 budget," January 28,2009
  6. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Iowa Department of Education,"2009 Condition of Education Reports - table 51, page 105," accessed February 20, 2010
  8. Iowa Department of Education,"2007 Condition of Education Reports - table 50, page 101," accessed February 20, 2010
  9. Iowa Department of Education,"2008 Condition of Education Reports - table 50, page 103," accessed February 20, 2010
  10. Center for Union Facts,"Iowa State Education Association," accessed February 20, 2010
  11. Center for Union Facts,"Iowa teachers unions," accessed February 20, 2010
  12. Iowa Department of Education,"Iowa State Board Of Education," accessed February 20, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 Iowa Department of Education,"The State Report Card for No Child Left Behind, 2008-2009," accessed February 20, 2010
  14. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  15. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  16. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  17. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  18. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  19. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  20. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  21. National Center for Education Statistics
  22. National Center for Education Statistics
  23. Iowa Department of Education,"Charter Schools," accessed February 20, 2010
  24. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed February 20, 2010
  25. The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in Iowa," accessed February 20, 2010