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Making educational connections with businesses

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Theron Schutte, right, and Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant go over data about student success at Monday’s school board meeting.

In the last eight years, the Marshalltown Business Education Alliance has seen teamwork among Marshalltown Schools, Iowa Valley Community College District and the local business community to increase educational opportunities for students.

Marshalltown administrators went over some data collected from the alliance’s efforts at Monday’s school board meeting.

“For the first time, really, we’ve pulled together trend-line data,” Superintendent Theron Schutte said.

The data to measure the alliance’s success are manifold. They include Marshalltown student participation in Project Lead the Way classes, graduation and dropout rates, open enrollment rates, student dual-credit attainment, number of Marshalltown High School students attending Marshalltown Community College and post-secondary education and establishment of career pathways.

For the upcoming school year, high school Principal Jacque Wyant presented data showing involvement in Project Lead the Way engineering classes jumped by dozens of students, while biomedical science will remain steady, among other numbers.

The graduation rates for Marshalltown high schoolers dropped a little from the 2016-17 school year to the 2017-18 school year, from 88.07 percent to 87.8 percent. The dropout rate is going down, from 79 in 2016-17 to 64 in 2017-18, almost a full percentage point lower.

While Marshalltown Schools continues to see far more students open enrolling out of the district than open enrolling in, the data shows improvement in that area.

“The numbers of requests out have been going down slightly … and the numbers of requests in have been going up slightly,” Schutte said. “Obviously, we need to keep it moving in that direction.”

The number of students taking dual-credit courses through Marshalltown Community College has also been trending up since the 2015-16 school year, which the administrators took as a good sign.

“On the (high school) campus, we have many core classes that are available to our students,” Wyant said of dual-credit offerings. “Many of them are trying to get an associates degree.”

The data on post-secondary success is more blurry because many of the students who recently graduated from Marshalltown and are going to college are still making their way through classes at that level.

Wyant said she wants to continue opening up career pathways for students to explore before graduating from high school. She said that would allow students to discover their interests or find out that a line of work is not for them before moving on past high school.

Schutte said expanding programs like Project Lead the Way and other efforts to the elementary, intermediate and middle school levels may help students be more comfortable when exploring career choices in high school.

“I’m very optimistic for what the future holds for these numbers moving in a positive direction,” he said.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com

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