Idaho has committed more than $100 million since 2013 to turn high school graduates into college students, writes Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. Now, thousands of high school students can earn free college credits. High schools can hire college and career counselors to work with students and parents. And more students receive scholarships to attend Idaho colleges. But the money isn’t doing the one thing it was supposed to do: It isn’t improving Idaho’s postsecondary graduation rate, the state’s top education goal. The graduation rate remains dismal and stubbornly stagnant — five years and $100 million later.
“That’s a lot of money for something where we’ve not seen outcomes improve, necessarily,” said state Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls. Horman sits on the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, and plays a lead role in crafting Idaho education budgets.
In 2010, the state Board of Education established Idaho’s “60 percent goal,” to get 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to complete some postsecondary program, a two- or four-year college degree or a professional certificate. At the time Idaho was at 37 percent. The number had risen only to 42 percent by 2015.
Linda Clark, a member of the state Board of Education, told EdNews, “There are places where we are showing progress, but that goal is really hard to nudge.” You can read Richert’s full report online here.