Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Iowa high-schoolers most likely in U.S. to be taking college classes

  • Updated
  • 0

About a fifth of all students at Iowa Western Community College are still in high school.

A similar picture plays out across Iowa, particularly in the Des Moines area, with joint enrollment opportunities providing the state’s high-schoolers a myriad of opportunities to earn college credit.

In fact, the Iowa Department of Education found that Iowa leads the nation in providing college-level coursework for its high school students, with a record high in joint enrollment set in 2014. More than 44,000 Iowa high-schoolers, including 1,983 at Iowa Western, were taking a community college class for credit.

The State Board of Education received a report on March 31 highlighting how Iowa’s joint enrollment outpaces those of community colleges and four-year colleges and universities nationally.

“Giving high school students access to college credit is one step toward closing the skills gap in Iowa, which is a high priority for our state,” Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said in a press release. “More of Iowa’s in-demand jobs require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Earning credit in high school not only saves students money in future college tuition expenses, it also opens doors to greater career opportunities.”

Credit hours taken by jointly enrolled students at Iowa Western ticked down slightly last year, a 0.1 percent drop, while the overall state saw a 4.2 percent improvement.

Head count enrollment fell 3.4 percent at Iowa Western but grew 2.4 percent across Iowa.

Iowa Western saw more young women enrolled than young men, and about 82 percent of all classes taken by high-schoolers were in the arts and sciences, the general education classes they might otherwise take as college freshmen. About 36 percent of the classes were taught by high school instructors, according to the report.

The revenue from local school districts at Iowa Western in 2015 was $1,367,798 from concurrent enrollment plus $152,000 from the state’s Post Secondary Enrollment Option program. Across the state, joint enrollment students represented a shift of $24.16 million from local school districts to community colleges.

“Today’s knowledge-based, global economy demands increased skills, training and education,” Wise said. “We are proud that Iowa leads the nation in providing this access and opportunity to our high school students.”

Beyond the joint enrollment options, high-schoolers in Council Bluffs – and elsewhere in southwest Iowa – have access to college credit through the College Board’s Advanced Placement classes. Instead of enrollment in a graded class through a community college, AP classes are high school classes where students take a standardized test to earn college credit.

The Council Bluffs Community School District was one of three districts in the metro area to qualify for the AP District Honor Roll, recognizing improving access and scores on the exams. In 2015, Council Bluffs had 144 students take AP exams, with 94 students earn a score of 3 out of 5 on the tests. A ‘3’ is similar to a ‘C’ and is often enough to earn college credit at a lot of institutions, depending on the specific subject.

Council Bluffs’ program of studies for the upcoming 2016-17 school year lists 16 AP classes. The district’s listing of courses also includes 38 concurrent enrollment options through Iowa Western. The Post Secondary Enrollment Option program allows access to other courses at Iowa public colleges.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

DES MOINES — Iowa’s state budget has an unspent surplus of nearly $2 billion, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday — 54 percent higher than last year’s record-breaking level.

Recommended for you

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alert