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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Idaho State Department of Education

State, school districts at odds over lengthy year-end test set for spring

The state and several of its largest school districts are at odds about using a new, eight-hour exam on Idaho’s third-through 11th-grade students this spring, Idaho Education News reports; the districts want to rely on other year-end tests, including the SAT – which all Idaho 11th graders already are taking at state expense – rather than go with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test in a year when it essentially will be just a test of the test, and won’t provide useful student data. You can read reporter Kevin Richert’s full report here.

He notes that the disagreement has nothing to do with the Idaho Core Standards themselves, new math and English language arts standards that are designed to encourage critical thinking and emphasize writing skills. Idaho schools have begun teaching to the standards this year.

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.

Nearly 160 Idaho schools appeal their new ‘star ratings’

Idaho’s new “star ratings” for schools are the crucial report card that determines whether a school is meeting standards or not, and Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert reports that nearly 160 Idaho schools are appealing their ratings this year. About 650 schools receive star ratings; in past years, the state has generally received appeals from 75 to 100 schools, Richert writes; you can read his full report here.

Schools have ‘til Friday to apply for tech grants, 10 have so far

Idaho’s state Department of Education has received 10 applications so far for the $3 million in technology pilot project grants it’ll be handing out in the coming year; schools have until Friday to submit applications. “I know there’s been a lot of interest,” said Luci Willits, chief of staff to state schools Superintendent Tom Luna. “We’ve done several webinars, and it was one of the main topics on the post-legislative tour.”

Willits had no information on what’s proposed in the applications received so far; they won’t be evaluated until after the deadline, she said. Decisions on the grant awards are expected to be made soon after the start of the fiscal year July 1, and prior to the start of the next school year.

More Idaho high school students taking, passing AP exams

More Idaho high school students are taking Advanced Placement exams and scoring high enough to earn college credit, the College Board and the state Department of Education announced today. In 2012, 18.4 percent of Idaho’s public high school graduates had taken at least one AP exam, up from 15.3 percent in 2007 and 11.3 percent in 2002. For the same 2012 graduating class, 12.3 percent had scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, qualifying for college credit; the comparable figure in 2007 was 9.8 percent and in 2002, 7.3 percent.

Among Idaho’s public high school graduating class of 2012, 3,150 students had taken an AP exam, and 2,115 had scored a 3 or higher.

Eight new staffers join state Dept of Ed

It might seem odd that during these tight times, the state Department of Education is announcing eight new staffers for a new division to oversee all statewide, federally mandated student testing and the GEAR UP program, a program to help low-income students work toward college. But what’s being added at the department is being cut from the Office of the State Board of Education, so it’s a wash. It’s part of Gov. Butch Otter’s initiative to remove everyday management of K-12 schools from the state board office, and send it back to the department, which is headed by the elected state superintendent of schools. That’s how it used to work, before the programs were shifted amid political fighting when the state superintendent was a Democrat, and the governor a Republican. (Now, both, including Supt. Tom Luna, are Republicans.)

Five of the eight staffers in the new unit are moving directly over from the board office. Two are new hires who are taking on positions that had been vacant recently at the board office; the eighth, 2008 Teacher of the Year Carol Scholz, is filling a vacant position at the department for a special education coordinator that’s now being moved into the new unit. “We had some space for ‘em and we squeezed them in, and we’re glad to have ‘em,” said department spokeswoman Melissa McGrath.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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