---The Iowa Department of Education Report Card accompanies this article in pdf form---
Even with what South Tama Schools Superintendent Kerri Nelson says are "strong gains", the district has again been classified in need of assistance on the 2013 Iowa State Report Card for No Child Left Behind.
South Tama elementary, middle and high schools are all listed now as having "met" math and reading participation levels in the report. But, in math and reading proficiency levels, all three schools are listed "as in need of assistance except the high school which is listed at the "watch" level.
STC is among 41 Iowa school districts identified as in need of assistance in the report. This total is 11.8 percent of Iowa school districts, a figure which is up from 28 districts last year according to the Iowa Department of Public Instruction.
In addition, state-wide a total of 643 individual schools or 47.2 percent are identified as in need of assistance. This is up 11.9percent from last year.
Jayson Glass, who recently left the post as Iowa Department of Education director, and his replacement, the current director, Brad Buck, have both argued the federal No Child Left Behind framework is not a correct way to measure Iowa education achievement.
"We believe in accountability and the continuous work to improve our schools, which is why we fully supported landmark education reform legislation this year," Buck said in a news release issued Tuesday. "But this one-size-fits-all federal system is unfair and unequipped to drive us toward better outcomes for students. On paper, many more schools and districts are missing targets or moving into higher levels of accountability. No Child Left Behind's arbitrary rules fail to recognize that students come to school with different starting points. The rules also fail to reward schools that are making progress with the most disadvantaged students."
Superintendent Nelson said in an email response to a News-Herald request for comment: "South Tama County Schools is listed as District in Need of Assistance by the Iowa Department of Education for failure to meet Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP). The Iowa Assessments are used as the sole measure of student proficiency when determining AYP in math and reading.
"The District has demonstrated strong gains in student achievement in some areas.
"However, the District has not yet met the target necessary to meet AYP. The District takes this designation seriously. The staff has worked to improve the academic standing of the District.
"The District has increased professional development, worked to implement the Iowa Core, purchased new textbooks in math, added new courses, worked with consultants in an effort to improve. It is important that the District continue to make progress in this area."