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Eye On Boise

Thu., Aug. 1, 2013, 2:52 p.m.

Idaho schools’ new star ratings out

Idaho schools fared slightly better this year in the state's new "star ratings" system, with the number of top-rated 5-star schools rising from 78 to 91, and the number of bottom-rated 1-star schools falling from 35 to 22. The number of 4-star schools fell slightly, 3-star schools rose slightly, and 2-star schools stayed roughly even. Click below for the full announcement from the State Department of Education, in which state schools Supt. Tom Luna says, “I am proud to see Idaho schools continue to make academic progress every year."

In addition to the new star ratings, the announcement reports that 90% of Idaho students scored at or above grade level in reading and 82.2% of students scored at or above grade level in math this year.

Idaho State Department of Education                           

August 1, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           IDAHO SCHOOLS INCREASE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE STATEWIDE

 BOISE – The number of high-performing schools across Idaho increased this year, according to the most recent results of Idaho’s Five-Star Rating System.

This is the second year the state has reported results under its new system of increased accountability that focuses on multiple measures, including academic growth. The Idaho State Department of Education and State Board of Education worked closely with parents, educators and community members in 2011 to develop the Five-Star Rating System.  

“I am proud to see Idaho schools continue to make academic progress every year. The Five-Star Rating System is a new system of increased accountability that better recognizes the hard work of our teachers and students across the state,” Superintendent Luna said. “These most recent results not only show that a majority of Idaho schools are high-performing but also that a vast majority of Idaho students are performing at or above grade level in reading and mathematics. Our students are ready for the higher expectations we are moving toward next year, and I am eager to see the progress they will make as we continue to raise the bar in education.”

More than half of Idaho’s schools – 385 schools – were rated as Four-Star and Five-Star Schools this year, compared to 379 last year. Another 175 Idaho schools were rated as Three-Star Schools this year, also an increase from last year. Eighty-eight schools statewide were rated as One-Star and Two-Star Schools.

Here is a complete breakdown of the results for the Five-Star Rating System:



Star Rating

2011-2012 Results

2012-2013 Results

5 Star Schools



4 Star Schools



3 Star Schools



2 Star Schools



1 Star Schools



Total schools

-- 648



Under the Five-Star Rating System, schools with grades K-8 are measured on academic growth (how much progress students have made academically), as well as the number of students who reach grade level or higher on the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT). 

High schools are measured based on academic growth, the number of students who reach grade level (or higher) on the ISAT as well as on measures of student success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Those measures include a school’s graduation rate, the number of students enrolled in and successfully completing advanced courses with a C or better, and student scores on college entrance exams. The state currently pays for all students to take the SAT or ACCUPLACER.

 All schools, no matter the grade level, also are measured on participation by demonstrating they have tested at least 95 percent of their students. 

 After calculating these measures, each school receives a Star Rating on a scale of one to five, one being the lowest-performing and five being the highest-performing. Here is a brief description of each Star Rating:

·         Four-Star and Five-Star Schools will be publicly recognized and celebrated for their excellent performance as top-performing schools across Idaho. These schools will serve as examples to other schools.

·         Three-Star Schools will be recognized as doing a good job for students because most students have met the academic benchmarks set by the state. These schools will be required to develop improvement plans for the few areas in which they still need improvement.

·         One-Star and Two-Star Schools are schools identified for areas of improvement. These schools will develop school improvement plans tied to research-based best practices, and the State Department of Education will focus intense time and resources to provide the support necessary to raise academic achievement and close achievement gaps in these schools.

 Previously, under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the state evaluated schools only on a measure known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which focused primarily on whether or not the students in a school passed the ISAT. Idaho received a waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind law last year so the state now can use multiple the multiple measures under the Five-Star Rating System to evaluate a school’s performance.

 In addition to the Five-Star Ratings, here are some highlights of the academic results across Idaho this year:

·         158 schools advanced at least 1 Star Rating this year over last year.

·         90% of Idaho students scored at or above grade level in reading and 82.2% of students scored at or above grade level in mathematics.

·         50.8% of students scored advanced (above grade level) in reading, and 43.1% scored advanced (above grade level) in mathematics.

·         The number of high school juniors taking a college entrance exam on Idaho SAT School Day increased from 16,501 test takers last year to 16,921 this year.


The Star Ratings for each school announced this year are set to remain in place for two years as the state transitions to a new assessment. Idaho is working with a consortium of states to develop a new, more robust assessment aligned to Idaho’s higher academic standards. The new assessment will not simply be multiple-choice like the ISAT but will include several question types, including open response and technology-enhanced items. The state will field test the new assessment in Spring 2014 before administering it for accountability purposes for the first time in Spring 2015. Until it is fully administered in Spring 2015, the state will keep the current Star Ratings in place for Idaho schools.


Here are examples of success stories across the state this year:


Shoshone Middle School, Shoshone School District:

In 2010, Shoshone Middle School was identified for school improvement, but since then, the school has not only made academic progress in recent years, it has sustained it. The school has rated as a Four-Star School two years in a row. “Shoshone School District has been able to achieve a remarkable improvement in student achievement in the last three years. It started with a concrete goal of development of a clear and share focus on results and a commitment to implementation of research based best practices by everyone,” said Rob Waite, Superintendent of the Shoshone School District.


Van Buren Elementary School, Caldwell School District:

Despite challenging demographics, Van Buren Elementary School in Caldwell has made significant academic progress over the past year. Last year, Van Buren Elementary was a Two-Star School, and this year it is a Five-Star School. “Van Buren took a thorough and extensive look at our school's areas of excellence and our areas of opportunity to improve during the 2011-2012 school year. Based upon these factors, we entered into the 2012-2013 school year with an adjusted building system refined to either reinforce or reform areas identified in our effort to challenge all students in every grade level,” said Melissa Langan, Principal at Van Buren Elementary School.


Melba School District:

In 2009, schools in Melba received a School Improvement Grant to help turnaround their student achievement. Today, schools in Melba have made significant strides academically and are now showing great progress year over year. Melba High School was a Three-Star School last year and is now a Four-Star School. Melba Elementary School continues to rank among the highest-performing schools in the state as a Four-Star School. “Melba Elementary School is thrilled with the announcement that for the 2nd year in a row they have received a four-star rating from the State Department of Education,” said Principal Sherry Ann Adams. “This is a credit to the hard-working staff that can be found throughout the school.  There is a true dedication to doing what is best for all students. While achieving a four-star rating is very exciting, we will not just settle – we will continue to provide training to teachers on the best practices. We will continue to study the data and provide intervention and enrichment to help all students demonstrate academic growth.”


To see the full results of the Five-Star Systems or how a specific school performed, please visit or download a spreadsheet that lists results by school online at To see the full results of the Five-Star Systems or how a specific school performed, please visit


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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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