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Iowa City Community School District Expands Its Research Capacity with Hanover’s Support

The district turned to Hanover Research to understand how to apply its research to the classroom, feel a higher level of confidence in the direction it was moving, and translate these plans to show its community the “why” of what it was doing.

The Challenge: Determine if a New High School is Needed

The Facilities Committee of the Board and the School Board 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. They sought data-driven 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.

Superintendent Stephen Murley explained why they requested Hanover to execute this initiative: “We knew we needed a broad base of research in a short period of time and that’s not something we are 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.”

The Solution: Evaluate National Trends and Research

Hanover Research examined national, state, and regional data to provide empirical evidence about the benefits and disadvantages of small and large high schools.

The Outcome: Understand the Implications of Class Size on Student Success

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.

Stephen affirmed how critical the research findings were: “We’re going to be able to make a decision based on national trends rather than one without any context or perspective. We’re able to have a more rational discussion about what we ought to be doing moving forward. The research helps frame the question that may be less emotion and more fact at the root of it.”

Data plays a key role in making informed decisions. Learn more with our blog, ‘Using Data to Solve K-12 Challenges’.

“A significant value-add is recognizing that this research report is not written by support staff in my office; it is 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 is unique to engage the whole group and I do not know anyone else who could do that.”

Stephen Murley, Superintendent

The Client

Iowa City Community School District


K-12 Education


Iowa City, IA

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