DES MOINES — Iowa’s public schools saw an increase in students and teachers in the last year.
Iowa Department of Education spokesman, Jay Pennington, says the latest Condition of Education report shows an increase of nearly 1,388 students. “This is the eighth consecutive increase in student enrollment after about a 17-year decline,” according to Pennington. “So, it’s nice to see continued, sustained growth in our schools.” There were 487,652 students in the school system in the last year.
Pennington says the increase is similar to the slow population growth of the state as whole. “Other places are growing at faster rates — but I think it’s definitely good for Iowa schools to see sustained, continued growth,” he says. He says that growth has included an increase in another area.
“While we’re seeing overall growth in the student population, we’re also seeing more and more diversity in our schools,” Pennington says.”In the most recent year, we have just under 25 percent or one-in-four students in Iowa schools is now a student of color.” The percent of students whose native language is not English is 6.5% — up from 6.1% the year before.
Pennington says the state also has more teachers — an upward trend that started in 2001. “We seen about an addition of 3,700 teachers over that period of time. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the average salaries of educators. So, I think two really good pieces of data from the most recent report.”
The 37,386 full-time teachers in public schools in the last year compares to 33,610 in the 2000-2001 year. The average salary is now $57,463. That ranks Iowa at 21st in the nation for average salary compared to 22nd the year before.
Pennington says there are a lot of good numbers in the report — including an increase in the number of students taking higher-level mathematics, including calculus, statistics and trigonometry courses. But he says there is still a lot of area for improvement.
“With the most recent data — we know that for the class of 2019 — 33 percent of students took physics. And while that is an all-time high — we know that there’s still 66 percent of students who are not taking that key course within high school.”
The report says the amount of state money spent on each student went up by 333 dollars to $10,536. That ranks the state per-pupil expense 30th in the nation ahead of other the nearby states of Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and South Dakota. You can see the full report on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.