logo: Iowa City Community School District

I am unaware of anyone else doing anything like this. Your turnaround time is always under three weeks. A significant value-add is recognizing that this isn’t written by support staff in my office; it’s written for the community. It takes skill to take this information and reduce it down to two pages of key findings for some people and a comprehensive report for others. It’s unique to engage the whole group and I don’t know anyone else who could do that.

– Stephen Murley, Superintendent, Iowa City Community School District

Objective: 

Provide objective, third-party perspective

The Facilities Committee of the Board and the School Board of Iowa asked Hanover Research to help determine whether Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) should move forward with the development of a third comprehensive high school. Superintendent Stephen Murley requested empirical evidence of the pros and cons of large and small high schools, as well as macro-level information on high school distribution across the US.

Asked why he chose Hanover Research to execute this project, Superintendent Murley answered, “We knew we needed a broad base of research in a short period of time and that was not something we were equipped to do. Sometimes there is also a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to large changes. The value added by having an external source was fairly significant.”

Approach: 

Hanover Research provided empirical evidence about the benefits and disadvantages of small and large high schools. Specifically, analysts at Hanover:

  • Examined the distribution of public high schools at the national, state, and regional levels;
  • Grouped average high school enrollment by state and offered a focused analysis of the distribution of high schools by size in the State of Iowa;
  • Profiled the number and size of high schools currently operated by peer districts in the greater Midwestern region; and
  • Provided a comprehensive review of literature, highlighting empirical outcomes associated with high school size.

Results: 

Informed fact-based community dialogue

When conducting its facilities master planning process to determine optimal class sizes, ICCSD hosted a three-day community engagement session. Hanover’s report included a discussion of national high school enrollment data that served as a benchmark to enhance the community perspective during this session. These findings provided key district stakeholders with an understanding of class size and its implications on high school student success to guide informed decision-making.

Superintendent Murley affirmed how critical the research findings were by stating, “We are able to have a more rational discussion about what ICCSD ought to be doing moving forward. The research helps frame the questions that have less emotion and more facts at the root of them.”

Hanover Research