Iowa Education Department Director Jason Glass has ordered public schools to adopt an instructional program to help struggling students.
Under the Response to Intervention program being imposed, all public school students would be screened at least three times a year. Those falling below a baseline would be given extra instruction and other support.
The state says that, in general, minority students, students from poor families and students from immigrant families fall behind their peers on state assessments.
Jay Pennington is chief of the Education Department's Bureau of Information and Analysis Services. He says the number of students living in poverty and participating in English Language Learner programs has increased over the past two decades. But he says Iowa's white, affluent students are also underperforming when compared to peers nationwide.