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Two local school districts ranked high in a recent U.S. News study that analyzed the 2020-2021 school year. Jason Shaffer is superintendent of both districts. Mount Ayr High School placed 67th out of the top 100 Iowa high schools. Bedford High School ranked the highest in southwest Iowa, placing 30th in the state.
Statewide, Mount Ayr High School ranked 9th out of 317 Iowa schools on state assessment, and ranked 430th in the nation out of 17,680 nationally ranked schools. The study summarized schools’ weighted scores across six indicators of school quality, to reflect the school’s performance across these metrics on a national percentile basis.
Above average proficiency in math, reading and science led Mount Ayr High School’s success, when compared to statewide scores on Iowa high school state assessments.
Speaking on KMA’s “Morning Line” program Monday morning, Shaffer cited several factors leading to the districts’ success in the U.S. News rankings. “Bedford…they’ve kind of been trending in that direction for quite a while. Their ISCAP scores have been solid. Their elementary level has been blue ribbon twice in the last decade. So, Bedford’s got a lot of great things academically. Mount Ayr’s not too far behind, and trying to continue to close that gap, as well. Overall, I’d say both districts are doing extremely well.”
The superintendent says both districts have held their own in the categories U.S. News bases its rankings on: college readiness, state assessment proficiency, state assessment performance, under served student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates.
Shaffer also credits the relationships between instructors and students in both districts for the overall success.
“It just comes back to the relationships they have with the kids,” he said. “A very close network, very family oriented. Buildings in both districts, I think the staff just goes out their way to make sure every kid is meeting goals, and being challenged, and pushed to learn on a daily basis.”
Shaffer says overall, southwest Iowa is very supportive of its school districts.
“I think in general, southwest Iowa is an area that’s supportive at home,” said Shaffer. “The kids come to the school, and they understand that academics and learning is the focus. When you’ve got that support structure in place, and maybe for some kids that don’t, you have great staff in place that builds relationships. There’s an old adage, it takes a village. I think southwest Iowa is a great example of that.”
U.S. News, in coordination with a global nonprofit social science research firm, ranked approximately 17,680 public high schools out of nearly 25,000 for this study. These public high schools had a 12th grade enrollment of 15 students or greater, or otherwise had sufficient enrollment in other high school grades.
You can find the full report for Mount Ayr High School online: www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/iowa/districts/mount-ayr-community-school-district/mount-ayr-high-school-7720