2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 68%
The Iowa School Tuition Organization Tax Credit program, a tax-credit scholarship program, was enacted 2006. The program serves Iowa students from low-income and working class households to afford the schooling options that best fit their needs.
Individual Tax Credit/Deduction
The Iowa Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit program was enacted and launched in 1987, and it allows parents to receive a limited tax credit for their educational expenses.
- Source: EdChoice
Charter Schools Score: 0%
Iowa’s charter school law is weak as school districts have restricted innovation.
The only entity that is able to authorize charter schools in Iowa is local school districts. Local districts have not been keen to authorize charter schools that may compete with them and thus there are only three charter schools in the entire state. These schools operate as alternative district schools and have done nothing to provide students with real options outside of traditional public schools.
Iowa has earned the distinction of having the weakest charter school law in the country according to the center for education reform’s charter school law rankings. Iowa earns this title due to the incredibly inequitable funding that Iowa charter schools have (they have to negotiate with the district for everything) and the fact that Iowan charter school sector is not growing suggesting that the environment is not one conducive for charter schools to thirve.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed in 1996
- Number of Charter Schools: 3
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment: 400 (up 33percent from 2015-16)
- Iowa caps the number of charter schools that they allow at twenty with a total of one school per district
- Virtual Schools are allowed (but none exist)
- Charters can be contract with EMOs or CMOs for management purposes
- Iowa earned a two out of fifteen for authorizers. The only entities that can authorize charter schools in Iowa are local public school districts (with an appeal to the state). Districts make bad authorizers because they are supposed to be authorizing their competition which means that they are very likely not to authorize schools that would represent real competition or regulate charter schools to the point where they cease to become innovative bodies (and thus won’t compete with the district).
- Iowa earned a two out of fifteen for growth. Iowa caps the number of charter schools at a maximum of twenty statewide and a maximum of one charter school per district. Beyond the cap, the regulatory environment in Iowa is one that has impeded all charter growth.
- Iowa earned a two out of twenty for operations. Charter schools are regulated by the state in the exact same manner as district schools. Additionally, Charter Schools are legally part of the school district. They thrive when they have the autonomy to make decisions that they would like to. When they need to ask the state for waivers from any regulations that could apply to them they do not have the freedom to work as effectively possible which means their students get a worse education. Additionally, Charter schools are subject to the existing collective bargaining agreement for teachers unless exemptions are made in charters. Without these exemptions charter schools in Iowa are often hamstrung with staffing decisions and do not have the ability to act as autonomously as they need to be effective. Additionally, Charter school teachers must be certified in the same manner that traditional public school teachers are. The sole effect of this policy is that it prevents individuals who have not gone through the bureaucratic measures of teacher certification from working with students even if the charter schools thinks they are the right individual for the job.
Iowa earned a zero out of fifteen for funding equity. Funding is completely ignored in the law, leaving it up to the district’s discretion which ensures that charter schools are not funded equitably.
Online Learning Score: 65%
However, other state policies in Iowa create favorable conditions for access to high-quality online content and high-quality online instruction. The Iowa Legislature Codified the Department of Education’s virtual school program, Iowa Learning Online, providing $4,500,000 over three years in expansion funds. The state’s two full-time virtual academies are in the second year of a three-year pilot, and Iowa’s “one to one” schools/districts continued to increase in 2013.
- Source: Grade: D
Teacher Quality Score: 65%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D
Identifying Effective Teachers F
Retaining Effective Teachers D
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D