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Eye On Boise

State Ed Board approves rule changes

Idaho’s state Board of Education met today to vote on a series of complex and mostly technical rule changes, and all were approved without opposition. They included one that drew comments at public hearings in North Idaho and in Canyon County regarding student testing, but the comments didn’t address the changes in the rule, instead focusing on general concerns about Common Core and SBAC testing.

State schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said people had questions about how Idaho’s standards were developed. “The state department has answered all those questions during the public comment, and hopefully will be posting all the answers on our website before the end of this week,” she told the board, on which she serves.

The rule change focused on specifics of achievement levels for 9th and 10th graders taking the Idaho Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, in English and math, and high school science testing requirements. Idaho already had adopted specific achievement standards for grades 3-8 and 11, but the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium didn’t cover specific levels for grades 9 and 10, so the state asked its assessment vendor to develop appropriate standards for those grades that “would align on the same vertical scale as the previously approved 3 through 8 and 11 cut scores.” Those were what was approved today, along with finalizing a rule that for high school science testing, specific end-of-course tests are what will count.

That’s because science testing is done for grades 5, 7 and 10, but high school level science courses don’t follow a year-to-year progression like those in elementary school; instead, students may take biology one year, chemistry another. Under the rule, the end-of-course assessment for the course students actually take will count for accountability testing purposes; it’s not tied to graduation requirements.

Because the section of rule being amended also includes all specific achievement-level standards for students and the state’s Special Education Manual, those also were incorporated by reference in the rule change. Also included in today's slate of rules votes was finalizing the board's earlier decision to exempt this year's 10th graders from passage of the ISAT as a high school graduation requirement.

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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