Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS "COLLEGE READINESS"?
According to the Educational Policy Improvement Center, a student who is college - or career-ready
can qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing postsecondary courses without the need for remedial or developmental coursework.
WHAT ARE THE POSTSECONDARY READINESS REPORTS?
The reports are significant not only because they provide a statewide portrait of how prepared Iowa high school
graduates are for success in postsecondary education and community college based training,
they also provide local results to help guide improvement efforts in schools and school districts.
HOW CAN THE POSTSECONDARY READINESS REPORTS BE USED?
Schools can use their local information, in combination with regional and statewide
comparisons, to benchmark progress toward locally defined goals as they relate to
postsecondary readiness. As a statewide responsibility to ensure Iowa students are ready
for life after high school, these reports are being provided publicly to assist school officials in
collaboration with parents and the general public to meet these goals.
HOW IS THE INFORMATION DIFFERENT FROM OTHER COLLEGE READINESS BENCHMARKS?
There are multiple indicators of college readiness available to states, districts, and schools.
Many of these measures, such as ACT’s college readiness benchmarks and the college
readiness measure included in the Iowa School Report Card, attempt to predict the
likelihood that a student is college-ready. The Postsecondary Readiness Reports differ in that
they represent the first statewide measure on how students actually performed, not how likely
they were to perform at a certain level in college.
WHEN ARE THE POSTSECONDARY READINESS REPORTS UPDATED?
The reports will be updated annually each spring.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE DATA IN THE POSTSECONDARY READINESS REPORTS?
The Iowa Department of Education provides a list of public high school graduates. Iowa
community colleges and the three public universities provide the enrollment, remedial/
developmental course enrollment, and completion/award data for their institutions. For
students attending private and/or out-of-state postsecondary institutions, National Student
Clearinghouse enrollment and award data are utilized. The National Student Clearinghouse
is a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization that provides nationwide coverage to
postsecondary enrollment and degree records.
WHAT TYPES OF POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS ARE AND ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THESE
Enrollment reports derive data from two- and four-year public and private institutions, as
well as some other educational entities that report to the National Student Clearinghouse.
Almost all postsecondary institutions report to the National Student Clearinghouse; those that
do not are not included in the reports and tend to fall onto one of the following categories:
cosmetology schools, massage therapy schools, schools of chiropractic medicine, bible
colleges and military academies.
Remedial/developmental course data are only available for Iowa public postsecondary
two- and four-year institutions.
WHAT IS A REMEDIAL/DEVELOPMENTAL COURSE?
Students who are not ready for college-level coursework are usually placed into remedial
courses (called “developmental courses” at colleges and universities). The U.S. Department
of Education defines remedial classes as those that fall below the 100 level, such as Math 50.
The process for placing students into remedial classes varies by college. Many community
colleges also use placement tests, but may or may not require students to take remediation.
Remedial class credits do not count toward a degree and usually must be completed prior
to attempting college-level coursework.
HOW ARE REMEDIAL/DEVELOPMENTAL COURSES DELIVERED?
Most community college remedial courses are offered through the traditional face-to-face course format, but an increasing number of
courses have been delivered via online instruction or are blended between face-to-face and web-based modes. Some of these courses are
standards-based, while others are competency-based with offerings through a modularized curriculum. Several community colleges
are implementing alternative methods of remediation such as supplemental instruction, lab components added to transfer courses, and/or
accelerated delivery models including the paired co-requisite type where transfer courses and developmental courses are taken
together. Since FY14, a significant decrease in total statewide developmental credits has been seen within the community college
system in part due to these alternative delivery methods. The Regent universities also deliver most of their developmental courses
through the traditional face-to-face format. The one exception is that the University of Iowa offers its Basic Algebra I course
in both on-line and face-to-face formats.
HOW DOES IOWA COMPARE TO OTHER STATES FOR OUR REMEDIAL COURSEWORK?
There is a lack of directly comparable data for national and state-to-state comparisons on
remedial course-taking patterns. Some other states’ remedial information will be available in
the Postsecondary Readiness Reports Findings Document when made public.
DO THE REPORTS INDICATE WHICH SCHOOLS ARE BETTER AT PREPARING STUDENTS FOR
The reports do not rate schools on college readiness. There are many factors outside of the
school setting that influence the college readiness of students, and those are not reflected
in these reports. The Postsecondary Readiness Report is one tool schools can use to help
determine how well current measures gauge students’ college readiness. They can serve
as a catalyst for those at the secondary and postsecondary levels to define what it takes to
succeed in entry-level courses.
HOW ARE THE DATA USED FOR THE POSTSECONDARY READINESS REPORTS PROTECTED TO
ENSURE PRIVACY IS MAINTAINED?
The agencies involved in creating the reports have a signed data-sharing agreement, which
limits the information shared and defines how these data can be used. To further ensure
privacy is maintained, access to personally identifiable information is limited and reports
are available only at the aggregate level. Lastly, when there are fewer than six students in
a group, these data are suppressed. This and other steps are taken to prevent constructive
identification of information in the report.