The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 7, 2012

Child poverty on the rise, state report shows

Clinton County’s rate slightly higher than state average

(Continued)

CLINTON — Ultimately, this distraction and the possible repercussions can hinder a child’s ability to succeed through school, he said.

Despite the increased number of children facing financial hardship, test scores in reading and math have increased statewide, Clinton County included.

Fourth grade reading proficiency in Clinton County in 2011 was at 85.2 percent, up from 77.9 percent in 2003.  Statewide, scores increased by 7.7 percent.  Although Clinton County scores in eighth grade mathematics proficiency did not meet the state average of 77.7 percent, students still improved to 73.2 percent from 68.6 percent in 2003.  

However, the gain in student achievement continues to be threatened by the factors surrounding poverty.

One of those factors is the transient level in the community, Olson believes. Because of changing home environments experienced by children in poverty, the district has more than 300 students come into the district after student enrollment counts Oct. 1 and around the same amount leave throughout the year, she said.

“Think about being a K-2 teacher and having 1 out of every five of your students in a state of fluctuation because of children moving in and out,” Olson said. “Not only for those students moving in and out, but also those students that remain in the classroom.”

On the bright side of the report, Crawford noted the decrease in teen birth rates, infant mortality and children deaths across the state.  In the former, Clinton County has seen a 1.4 percent decrease in the past 11 years, with 4 percent of females aged 15-19 giving birth in 2011.  

Also encouraging is the dip in state unemployment, which went from 6.1 percent in 2010 to 5.9 percent in 2011.

“Maybe that’s a sign things are turning around,” Crawford said.

Still, he said, there’s work to be done including a push from state lawmakers for family sustaining income in order to combat the factors negatively impacting children.

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