Does Preschool Pay Off? Tulsa Says Yes

December 12, 2017 – nprEd
by Claudio Sanchez

In 2001, not long after Oklahoma had adopted one of the nation’s first universal pre-K programs, researchers from Georgetown University began tracking kids who came out of the program in Tulsa, documenting their academic progress over time. In a new report published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management today, researchers were able to show that Tulsa’s pre-K program has significant, positive effects on students’ outcomes and well-being through middle school.


Otter Calls for Higher Education Shakeup

December 6, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Clark Corbin

Gov. Butch Otter teased out a proposal Wednesday to shake up Idaho’s higher education landscape — and put a renewed focus on Idaho’s signature education goal. “I’m going to ask the Legislature to structurally change exactly how we run higher education in the state of Idaho,” Otter told hundreds of political and business leaders at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho’s 71st annual conference in Boise.


Idaho's Teacher Shortage is Widespread - and it Isn't Going Away

October 26, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

When it came time for the Madison School District to hire a physical education teacher, the Eastern Idaho district received just one application. The applicant, now on staff, is off to a good start, Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas said this week. But he’s also well aware of the odds. The shallower the applicant pool, the greater the chance of making a bad hire. Madison’s search is just one passage in an ongoing story. Idaho’s teacher shortage is widespread. And it’s unlikely to go away any time soon.


New Research Explores Student Opportunity Gaps

October 24, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

Idaho lags behind most other states in providing opportunity for white and Hispanic students — the state’s two largest student populations. In its latest KIDS COUNT data released Tuesday, the Annie E. Casey Foundationrates the states on a dozen milestones — from infant health and access to pre-K to test scores and college graduation rates — then breaks down the scores by ethnic group. Idaho’s results were mixed.


BSU Study Hails Success of Boise Pre-K Pilot Program

October 18, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

Students who complete a Boise pre-K program outscore their classmates on kindergarten reading tests, according to a study released Tuesday. Boise State University researchers took a closer look at the Boise Pre-K Project, a two-year-old pilot program in Boise’s higher-poverty Vista neighborhood.


DeVos Outlines Vision for 'American Education'

October 11, 2017 – U.S. News & World Report
by Lauren Camera

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has outlined in the most specific terms to date her vision and policy priorities for education in the United States. In a document uploaded to the Federal Register and scheduled to be published Thursday, the Department of Education details 11 proposed priorities for use in competitive grant programs that “reflect the Secretary’s vision for American education.”


Schools Promote Career-Tech

October 11, 2017 – District Administration
by Shawna De La Rosa

Gone are the days when a mechanic can pop the hood of a car, take a look around and figure out what to do. Today’s auto shop graduates use diagnostic software to determine a vehicle’s problem, and then must explain the solution coherently, in a way that all customers will understand.


Survey: Teachers Support State Standards, Question Assessments

October 4, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

Teachers overwhelmingly support state academic standards — such as Common Core — but they are skeptical about the tests aligned to standards. That’s the takeaway from a new study from the RAND Corporation. In a February 2016 survey of more than 1,300 teachers nationally, 88 percent of respondents said they favored state standards for math, and 87 percent favored state standards in English language arts. Teachers in lower-income schools were more likely to support state standards.


Target 2025? Task Force Presses Reset on '60 Percent Goal'

September 15, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

Idaho’s much-discussed “60 percent goal” won’t go away. But it will probably look different. A gubernatorial task force started its final formal meeting Friday by pushing back the timetable — and pushing the reset button on the “60 percent” message. The new target date: Have 60 percent of Idaho’s 25- to 34-year-olds hold some form of postsecondary degree by 2025. The new message: The 60 percent goal supports a bigger objective. It should help Idahoans survive and thrive in a changing economy.


A Deeper Dive into the Go-On Rates: A Case Study from Coeur d'Alene

August 31, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

The Coeur d’Alene School District had one of the state’s highest college “go-on” rates in 2016. But Trina Caudle already has her eyes on the next round of numbers. She hopes the district’s new college and career counselors will help even more graduates prepare for life after high school graduation.


Alquist's Plan for Education: 'It's Creating That Clarity'

August 17, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

When Tommy Ahlquist talks about education, he keeps circling back to one word: clarity. Ahlquist says the state needs a clear, agreed-upon definition of student achievement. For the Republican gubernatorial candidate, that definition means students hit fourth-grade reading benchmarks, eighth-grade math benchmarks and graduate high school prepared for their future.


Ybarra, State Board of Education Turn Over ESSA Plan to Otter

August 17, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Clark Corbin

Gov. Butch Otter is beginning his 30-day review of Idaho’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. And at the end of the review period, Otter plans to submit a written response to the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education, said Marilyn Whitney, Otter’s deputy chief of staff and senior special assistant for education and government services.


Returns on the Literacy Initiative, in Historical Context

August 16, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

We’ve spent a lot of time and words comparing this year’s reading scores with the 2015-16 numbers. And for good reason. The 2016-17 spring scores represent an important mile marker — one year into an $11.25 million-a-year state effort to help at-risk readers. Last week, I received an email suggesting I take the long view. So, let’s look at how 2016-17 Idaho Reading Indicator scores compare with numbers from the past decade.


Spring Reading Scores Show Signs of Improvement

August 1, 2017 – Idaho Ed News
by Kevin Richert

One year into an $11.25 million-a-year literacy initiative, Idaho reading scores are trending upward. More kindergarten through third-grade students are reading at grade level — and fewer students are lagging behind.


Idaho Business Leaders Want to Boost Twin Falls Student Achievement

July 29, 2017 – Times-News
by Julie Wootton

TWIN FALLS — A group of Idaho business leaders wants to partner with the Twin Falls School District to boost student achievement. It’s part of Idaho Business for Education‘s schoolhouse strategy, launched last year. It wants to create six to eight local teams throughout the state — including in Twin Falls — by the end of 2017. The five-year-old nonprofit group — which has 189 members across Idaho, including the Times-News — aims to prepare students for the workforce and to pursue post-high school certification or degree.


It's Not College or Nothing for Idaho Students

July 26, 2017 – Times-News
Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

Idaho has set the goal of having 60 percent of our 25-34-year-old workers hold a postsecondary credential by 2020. This goal was established because studies show 6 out of 10 workers need education after high school to qualify for a job. Unfortunately, that goal is often misunderstood to mean that 60 percent of our workers must obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree. The fact is that we need employees with all levels of postsecondary education — workforce-ready certificates and college degrees. Even as policymakers admit we may not hit the 60 percent goal by the deadline, Idaho’s employers are crying out for workers with more education.


Congress Should Reauthorize and Expand Home Visiting Program

July 14, 2017 – Idaho Press Tribune
Guest Opinion by Mike Mooney

After 43 years in banking, I have learned a thing or two about investing; get in early, for one. Look for long-term value. Don’t make assumptions; get the facts. Any good money manager knows these basics. Yet as a nation, we often seem to forget these simple economic principles when it comes to investing in our most important asset, our children. If we are to remain competitive, that must change. One way to steer us on a better path is to support home visiting.


ISAT, SAT Scores Remain Virtually Flat

June 15, 2017 – Idaho Education News
by Kevin Richert

The State Board of Education took a quick and cursory look at some flat test scores Thursday afternoon. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra and State Department of Education staff presented the early numbers on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test and the SAT. On both tests, the results were virtually unchanged from 2015-16.

Here’s a summary of Thursday’s data drop.


Treasure Valley College Enrollment Falls Short of Demand

June 7, 2017 – Idaho Education News
by Kevin Richert

The good news: College enrollment numbers are trending upward in the Treasure Valley. The bad news: The trend still isn’t strong enough. “Currently, only 39 percent of adults (25 and older) in the Treasure Valley has an associate’s degree or higher,” the Treasure Valley Education Partnership said in a report issued Wednesday. “While college enrollment and degree attainment rates have steadily increased over the years, the demand for skilled and college-educated workers continues to outpace the supply.” TVEP’s report takes an in-depth look at college enrollment numbers in Ada, Canyon, Gem and Elmore counties.


Boise Ranks High on Forbes List of Best Cities for Young Professionals

May 24, 2017 – KTVB
Morgan Boydston

BOISE — The City of Trees is smashing yet another “best city” list” this week, ranking number two on the Forbes list of America’s 25 Best Cities for Young Professionals. So we wanted to find out why: what makes Boise so attractive to our millennial work force?


How Education Changed My Life (and can change yours too)

May 17, 2017 –
by Rod Gramer

Education changed my life. Literally changed my life. Any successes I’ve had personally or professionally I owe to the education I received in Idaho. My mother had a high school education and I’m not even sure my father graduated from high school. The family lore is that he lied about his age, quit school and joined the Navy so he could serve his country in World War II. Tragically, my father died when he was 25 years old in a car accident near Idaho City four months before I was born. My mother was left to raise a 4-year-old son and one on the way. Although we did not have much money, my mother was a true believer in education and encouraged me to get as much education as I could.


Shawna Walz is New VP of Idaho Business for Education

May 16, 2017 – Idaho Business Review
by IBR Staff

Shawna Walz has joined Idaho Business for Education in the role of vice president. Walz is the founder of the Idaho Diaper Bank, a non-profit organization collaborating with community partners throughout Idaho to meet the basic needs of Idaho children and families, and she spent 12 years as an executive with Oregon-based Nike.


WWAMI Network is Key to Relieving Idaho’s Physician Shortage

May 4, 2017 – Idaho Statesman
by Skip Oppenheimer and Rod Gramer

Preparing the next generation of doctors for Idaho is one of the most urgent education issues facing our state. That’s because Idaho has one of the biggest physician shortages in the country, especially in our rural areas. Last December a special Medical Education Committee formed by the State Board of Education made several recommendations to increase the number of doctors and other health care professionals serving our state. To help address the physician shortage, it recommended…


IBE Hires New Vice President

May 1, 2017 – Press Release
Idaho Business for Education is pleased to announce that Shawna Walz is joining its staff as Vice President. Ms. Walz is an experienced and accomplished business leader, including 12 years as an executive with Oregon-based Nike in various leadership capacities. Ms. Walz is the founder of the Idaho Diaper Bank, a non-profit organization collaborating with community partners throughout Idaho to meet the basic needs of Idaho children and families.


Higher Ed Task Force Begins Search for Answers

April 10, 2017, Idaho Statesman
by Bill Roberts

Idaho’s 7-year-old goal of getting 60 percent of its workforce ages 25 to 34 equipped with post-high school certificates or degrees by 2020 has evaporated. When the goal was first created in 2010, Idaho’s rate was 38 percent. It has crept up 4 percentage points to 42 percent. “We can’t do that,” said Gov. Butch Otter told the Statesman. Otter and other key education leaders are unwilling to adjust the deadline. “I don’t like the idea of setting targets too low and hitting them,” Otter said. “I like the idea of setting them way up high and striving to attain them.”


The Hidden Numbers Behind Trump's Proposed Education Budget

March 30, 2017, Education Commission of the States

Earlier this month President Donald J. Trump issued a paper entitled “America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” While not a completed budget request, it is an overview of the president’s goals for the 2018 federal budget. In this blueprint the president requests $59 billion for the United States Department of Education (ED). The president’s request would be a $9 billion (13%) decrease in spending from 2017.


Legislature Winds Down Without Preschool Bill

March 25, 2017, Times-News /
by Julie Wootton

TWIN FALLS — Another legislative session is winding down without movement toward state-funded preschool. Idaho is among six U.S. states that don’t offer public preschool programs. Early childhood education advocates say the lack of state-funded preschool is holding Idaho children back. But opponents say it’s the responsibility of parents, not the government, to prepare children for school. State legislators have expressed concerns about the large price tag of implementing a program, and the impact on school facilities and the already-existing teacher shortage.


CEO Shares His Thoughts on Improving Idaho Education

March 16, 2017, Idaho Education News
by Jennifer Swindell

Dr. David C. Pate admits he’s no expert on education. But he fashions himself an expert on leading a traditional industry through transformative changes. Pate is the president and chief executive officer of the St. Luke’s Health System. He arrived in Boise in 2009 committed to developing an accountable care system that could be a national leader in achieving the best possible outcomes at the lowest possible costs. Here are some of his recent accomplishments:


Advocates Stand up for Benefits of Early Education in Committee Hearing

February 23, 2017, KTVB
by Morgan Boydston

BOISE — Did you know Idaho is one of six states that doesn’t have state-funded preschool? School readiness is something early education advocates have been fighting for for years at the Statehouse. On Wednesday, several people stood up in front of both the House Education and Senate Education committees to testify about why they believe it is crucial for Idaho’s future.


Pre-K Advocates Make Their Case

February 22, 2017, Idaho Education News
by Clark Corbin

Lt. Gov. Brad Little and a bipartisan coalition of 18 education and community leaders told legislators Wednesday that the cost of not investing in early childhood learning is too high for Idaho to bear. “The future — both of our quality of life and our economic success — is dependent on this issue,” Little said. Idaho was one of only six states that do not put state money into pre-K, according to a recent report from the Education Commission of the States.


Education Changes Lives and Economic Futures

February 20, 2017, Idaho Education News
Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

While the Idaho Legislature debates a big tax cut, the Tennessee Legislature is looking toward investing big time in its citizens’ future and the economic future of the Volunteer State. In his recent State of the State message, Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam, a conservative Republican, accelerated his campaign to get more Tennesseans to go on to postsecondary and obtain the education that will power his state’s economy for the next 40 years.


Early Learning Advocates for Pre-K State Funding Bring Case to Idaho Capitol

February 11, 2017, Idaho State Journal
by Dave Goins, Idaho News Service

BOISE — Advocates for state-funded pre-kindergarten programs brought their case to the Idaho Capitol building Wednesday. Idaho is one of six U.S. states that doesn’t fund pre-K, said Beth Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer is the executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (AYEC), which sponsored Wednesday’s Early Learning Legislative Day event. “We want our Idaho lawmakers to understand the importance of investing in early learning,” Oppenheimer said. “And we want all children to have that opportunity.”


2017 Legislative Academy with Dr. Terry Holliday

If you missed the 2017 Legislative Academy with Dr. Terry Holliday, you can view the entire presentation below. Dr. Holliday is the Senior Advisor to the Council of Chief State School Officers and chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Rural Education: Addressing A Tension Point in the Great American Divide

JANUARY 12, 2017, EdSurge
by Dilara Sayeed

November’s election surfaced the angry divide between urban and rural America, and education is one of these tension points. Ashmore, Illinois is a rural town of 800 residents in central Illinois, the heartland of the United States. Each spring, about three hundred or so pre-K through 12th grade students wrap up the school year, running out into the parks and fields across the community to play. They will watch television, play video games, or go out into the yards. Most of them won’t, however, attend neighborhood learning programs; Ashmore does not have summer school for its students, even the lowest performing ones. This means the potential for summer learning loss is great.


Otter's Higher Education Task Force has a Tough Job Ahead


There is much to be optimistic about now that Gov. Butch Otter has commissioned the State Board of Education to lead a new task force on the topic of higher education. Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education, formed four years ago to tackle K-12 issues, was populated with a focused, no-nonsense collection of educators, administrators, citizens and lawmakers who produced 20 recommendations that were on point, doable, and largely successfully implemented and funded by the Idaho Legislature, which bought into the task force’s five-year blueprint. The eclectic and independent nature of that task force has been a stellar example of collaboration in state government because it engaged the public and lawmakers in a joint venture.


Otter Announces Higher Education Task Force

by Kevin Richert

Calling his K-12 task force a success, Gov. Butch Otter wants to employ a similar approach to higher education.On Friday, Otter announced that he will create a 28-member higher education task force — in hopes of improving Idaho’s stagnant college completion rates. The task force comes as Idaho continues to struggle to meet a goal dating back to 2010: getting 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a postsecondary degree by 2020. Otter has championed that cause for years — in concert with education, political and business leaders — to little avail. Only 46 percent of Idaho’s high school graduating class of 2015 enrolled in college within 12 months, down from 52 percent a year earlier.


Idaho Moves Ahead on Education Reforms. Are They Working? Is it Time to Revisit the Goals?

by Bill Roberts

More change is coming to Idaho public schools. Teachers are putting in place new reading plans they hope will close the gap for the one-third of third-graders who don’t read on grade level — a pivotal threshold for creating strong readers. More high school students than ever are signing up for dual-credit classes, giving them a head start on college credit that may lure them to higher education. A handful of public schools are experimenting with learning based on how well a student can master a subject, not mostly on the amount of time students spend in a classroom. Many teachers are earning more money based on a “career ladder” system that will soon take into account job performance in setting teacher pay. All these changes and more are rooted in the work of a task force brought together by Gov. Butch Otter nearly four years ago that studied ways to improve Idaho public schools.


Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All

DECEMBER 30, 2016, NPR
by Cory Turner

We all experience stress at work, no matter the job. But for teachers, the work seems to be getting harder and the stress harder to shake. A new report out this month pulls together some stark numbers on this: Forty-six percent of teachers say they feel high daily stress. That’s on par with nurses and physicians. And roughly half of teachers agree with this statement: “The stress and disappointments involved in teaching at this school aren’t really worth it.” It’s a problem for all of us — not just these unhappy teachers.


A Turnaround? Idaho College Enrollment Increases

by Kevin Richert

Idaho’s college go-on numbers have dropped, but the state’s college enrollment keeps trending upward. Nearly 99,300 students attended Idaho colleges and universities this fall, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Idaho’s numbers defy national trends. Fall enrollment increased in only 11 states and the District of Columbia. Idaho’s enrollment increased by 2.5 percent, and only New Hampshire and Utah experienced a more robust increase. Nationally, college enrollment dropped by 1.4 percent, coming in at slightly below 18.7 million.


State Honors East Idaho Title I School

by Devin Bodkin

POCATELLO — State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra named the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District’s Rulon M. Ellis Elementary School an Idaho recipient of the National Title I Association of Distinguished Schools Program Award.


National College Enrollments Continue to Slide

by Paul Fain

Overall college enrollments declined 1.4 percent this fall compared to one year ago, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a dip of more than 270,000 students. Nationwide enrollments began their slide in 2012 and have now continued for the last 10 consecutive college terms.


Fall IRI Scores: Nearly 35,000 Students Score Below Grade Level

by Kevin Richert

As Idaho embarks on a new multi-million dollar attempt to help at-risk readers, recent test results tell an old story. Once again, more than four in 10 kindergarten through third-grade students showed up for fall classes reading below grade level. This translates to 34,949 students statewide.

The latest Idaho Reading Indicator scores are not a reflection on the state’s new literacy initiative, passed by the 2016 Legislature. School districts and charter schools submitted their literacy plans to the state this fall, and received their share of the $11.25 million in state funding in October — after students took the fall IRI.


What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries

by Amanda Ripley

Every three years, half a million 15-year-olds in 69 countries take a two-hour test designed to gauge their ability to think. Unlike other exams, the PISA, as it is known, does not assess what teenagers have memorized. Instead, it asks them to solve problems they haven’t seen before, to identify patterns that are not obvious and to make compelling written arguments. It tests the skills, in other words, that machines have not yet mastered.


Rep. Julie VanOrden to chair House Education Committee

by Betsy Z. Russell

Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, is the new chair of the House Education Committee. That’s the first word on House committee assignments or chairmanships; both VanOrden and House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, confirmed it. VanOrden succeeds Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, who didn’t see re-election; she previously was the education vice-chair.


Senate Wraps Up Organizational Session, Announces Full List of Committees, Chairs

DECEMBER 1, 2016
by Besty Z. Russell, Spokesman Review

The Senate has finalized its committee assignments, and is wrapping up its business for the organizational session. Here’s the full list of Senate committees, including chairs and vice-chairs:

AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS: Chair: Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell; Vice-Chair: Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian. Members: Sens. Patrick, Bayer, Johnson, Thayn, Guthrie, Foreman and Jordan.

COMMERCE & HUMAN RESOURCES: Chair: Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls; Vice-Chair: Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon. Members: Sens. Martin, Lakey, Thayn, Souza, Anthon, Ward-Engelking and Burgoyne.

EDUCATION: Chair: Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls; Vice-Chair: Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett. Members: Sens. Winder, Nonini, Den Hartog, Guthrie, Crabtree, Buckner-Webb and Ward-Engelking.

We Could Learn from Nez Perce, Idaho’s Original Community Builders

Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

Following the ugly division that became the 2016 presidential campaign, we might look toward the Nez Perce for guidance on how to have a more respectful discourse regarding the issues that face our state and country. The week before the election, leaders of Idaho Business for Education met with the executive committee of the Nez Perce in Lapwai. We wanted to discuss what IBE was doing to help students succeed academically.


Education Groups Say They Were Shunned by the State Department of Education

by Jennifer Swindell

Leaders of Idaho’s major education groups are frustrated with the State Department of Education’s process for creating its draft of a school accountability plan. They say they were not included in the draft’s creation and there is not enough time to provide input since the 102-page document is to be presented to the State Board of Education just two weeks after its public unveiling.


Districts Receive Their Share of Literacy Money

by Kevin Richert

The state has divvied up its $11.25 million earmarked to boost elementary reading skills.  And once again, the payments illustrate the scope of Idaho’s literacy challenge. This fall, Idaho school districts and charter schools will receive money in hopes of helping nearly 37,000 kindergarten through third-grade students catch up in reading.

It's Time to Take Bolder Steps to Get a More Educated Idaho

Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

What’s going on with Idaho’s high school graduates? That’s the question that has many education advocates scratching their heads. Despite a massive media campaign and efforts by the Legislature, Idaho’s college go-on rate fell from 54 percent in 2013, to 52 percent in 2014, to 46 percent last year. The go-on rate is important because Idaho needs 60-68 percent of its workers to hold a post-secondary credential. Currently only about 40 percent of our workers do, only ahead of Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and Nevada.

Idaho's Go-On Woes. What Happened? What Happens Now?

by Kevin Richert

This winter, legislators cast a yes vote for college. It was a non-binding and symbolic vote. But with little dissent, they approved a resolution that reaffirmed their support for Idaho’s hallmark education goal: getting 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold some kind of postsecondary degree, by 2020. Meanwhile, Idaho’s high graduates voted with their feet. Only 46 percent of the class of 2015 enrolled in postsecondary school — down from 52 percent just a year earlier.

EITC Gets Closer to Becoming Official Community College

OCTOBER 25, 2016, Local News 8
by Pheben Kassahun

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – Advocates of converting Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college Tuesday held a kick-off event aimed at drumming more support (10/25). Committee members of the initiative were on campus to collect signatures and raise money. Dozens showed up in support of the campaign. If they collect 1,000 signatures, it would be on the ballot in May. If it passes, EITC would be the fourth community college in Idaho. It is a step that could make history in Eastern Idaho; turning the technical college into a community college.

Horseshoe Bend Buys Into Data-Driven Approach to Instruction

by Clark Corbin

HORSHESHOE BEND — Cora Larson’s gut-check moment hit about three years ago. Horseshoe Bend Elementary earned a two-star rating on Idaho’s five-star accountability system. It wasn’t good news for a school where Larson attended and began her own teaching career. “We weren’t even sure why we had a two-star rating or what it meant and we didn’t know how to get out of a two-star rating,” Larson said. “We were muddling around trying different things.” Pretty soon, all the confusion and all the tears gave way to a realization. A transformation was needed in Horseshoe Bend, and it would take buy-in from everyone — administrators, teachers, students and parents — to move the needle.

The Literacy Launch: Strategies and Goals Vary Widely

by Kevin Richert

Idaho school districts and charter schools have written out their ideas for helping their students learn to read. Their priorities vary widely. Some districts want to add teachers to spend time with struggling readers. Other districts emphasize technology or training. The goals also are all over the map. Some districts have ambitious goals to boost reading scores — this year. Other districts’ plans are vague.


Homedale Kids Beg to Come to School on their Day Off

Students want to work on math skills but need business support for breakfast and lunch (read story below)

by Clark Corbin

Even though there is no school here on Fridays, a group of 50 junior high students spends the morning inside Homedale Middle School working on math problems. Those are the lucky ones. There’s also a waiting list of another 25 or so kids who would gladly give up a morning of sleeping in, Internet surfing and video games to work on fractions and ratios.


Boise Preschool Students Ahead of Their Peers in Reading Readiness

by Bill Roberts

Boise School District’s preschool program begun last November has shown positive results in preparing students to read, district officials say. Eighty-three percent of preschool students who left the program at Hawthorne and Whitney elementaries to attend kindergarten this year showed they were ready to learn to read, according to a short statewide assessment given to students in the fall. That compares with 50 percent of students who were not enrolled in the preschool, funded with city and nonprofit support.


SBAC Scores: How One District Defied Demographics

by Kevin Richert

Based on raw demographics, Murtaugh is an unlikely place to find a standardized test success story. A tiny school district in the Magic Valley, about 20 miles east of Twin Falls, Murtaugh faces many of the same challenges that are widespread in rural Idaho. Enrollment has rebounded — but it remains slightly less than 300, and virtually unchanged since 2000. In 2015-16, 71 percent of Murtaugh’s students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch.


Goal for School Year: Close Achievement Gap

Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

As school starts this fall, excitement fills the air for parents and students alike who see education as a way to create a brighter future for our young people. Yet for too many of Idaho’s students, going back to school is filled with more anxiety than excitement. For them school means feeling unprepared to read at the same level as other students, not being able to solve math problems and generally not feeling as comfortable in class as their schoolmates.


State Seeks Input for New School Accountability Model

by Clark Corbin

Educators and taxpayers who are hungry for answers about development of the closely watched school accountability model will have their chance to learn details and provide feedback this fall. Throughout September and October, State Board of Education officials will stage a series of seven regional public forums on the topic of accountability.


Otter Names Albertsons Executive to State Board

by Kevin Richert

Boisean and Albertsons corporate executive will take a vacant seat on the State Board of Education. Gov. Butch Otter announced Andrew Scoggins’ appointment late Thursday. Scoggin is Albertsons’ executive vice president of human resources, labor relations, public relations and government affairs.


In Idaho, Preschool Comes With a Stiff Price

by Kevin Trevellyan and Bill Roberts

A group of preschoolers clamped their outstretched arms together, an uneven chorus of “ah” noises in the air as they all pretended to be “Allie Alligator.” It was Thursday morning at Kids Korner Preschool and Daycare, just after the Pledge of Allegiance. The 16 children were playing Zoo-phonics bingo, a multi-sensory game used to teach the alphabet.

Poll: Idahoans Not Sure State Can Reach Education Achievement Goals

by Bob Bernick

Most Idahoans like the idea of having 60 percent of adults holding a post-high-school education degree or certificate, but most also don’t believe the state can reach that goal by the 2020 deadline, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll shows. The Idaho State Board of Education has set that high bar: 60 percent of 23-34-year-old residents having a postsecondary degree, certificate or another credential in four more years. But pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds adults don’t see that goal being met by that date.

Workers With College Degrees Now Outnumber Those With High School Diplomas, Study Finds

by Gail Marks Jarvis

A new study provides a dramatic answer to the question nagging potential college students: Is college worth it? The short answer, according to a study released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, is yes. For the first time in U.S. history, people with college degrees make up a larger portion of the workforce than those with high school diplomas, the report found.

The Latest SAT Scores, by School and District

by Kevin Richert

We’ve heard from some readers wondering about the SAT scores released last week — and asking about the scores at the high school and district level. Idaho Education News requested school- and district-level data. The State Department of Education provided the data to us on June 14, hours after releasing the statewide numbers. Since we have the numbers — and since the State Department of Education has posted only statewide data on its website — you can download our spreadsheets here.

Idaho's Leads Nation in Job Growth, but Trails in Wages

by Benton Alexander Smith

Idaho’s nation-leading job growth has been widely reported, but a report by the Idaho Department of Labor says that Idaho isn’t as far ahead of its neighbors as it appears. Idaho added the most jobs in the country between March 2015 and March 2016. The number of Idaho jobs increased by 3.6 percent. But several of Idaho’s neighbors kept close pace.

Idaho's Latest SAT Scores a Mixed Bag

by Kevin Richert

Idaho’s new SAT scores are in, and the scores on the college-entrance exam are mixed. Students taking the exam in April posted an average score of 511 on the reading and writing portion of the test, the State Department of Education said Tuesday. That average score — just above the midpoint on a section with a scoring range from 200 to 800 — means that 62 percent of test-takers met the exam’s college- and career-readiness benchmark.

College Graduation Rates Rise, but Racial Gaps Persist and Men Still Out-Earn Women

by Mikhail Zinshteyn

Whites, blacks, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are all graduating from college at higher rates now, but stubborn racial and gender gaps are widening, a new federal report finds. Women earn more college degrees than men but receive lower wages, while whites and Asian-Americans continue to earn bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than blacks and Hispanics.

The Education System Is Rigged Against Low-Income Students, Even In Kindergarten

by Rebecca Klein

Students born into poverty enter kindergarten at a disadvantage to more affluent peers. As they advance through the grades, they receive lower test scores. They’re more likely to drop out and less likely to enter higher education.

The all-too-familiar cycle, in some ways, is getting worse, according to data in a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

State Seeks Comments on New Accountability System

by Idaho Ed News Staff

The State Board of Education is seeking feedback on a proposed new statewide accountability system, to measure educational progress in Idaho school districts, public schools and charter schools. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states must have an accountability system in place for 2017-18.

Pre-K Programs Grow Significantly - But Not in Idaho

by Kevin Richert

Across the country, states spent $6.2 billion on pre-K programs in 2014-15, a $553 million increase. These programs served nearly 1.4 million students, up more than 37,000 from the previous year. The National Institute for Early Education Research chronicled these increases in a recent report — and noted something that isn’t news to Idahoans. Idaho remains one of only eight states without state-funded pre-K. (Earlier this year, another report said Idaho was one of only five states that does not fund pre-K.)

Teach for America and "Bright Spot" Classrooms

by Jim Everett

I find it important with the boards on which I serve to find opportunities to connect back to the reason I serve. For IBE this is best done for me by observing a “bright spot” classroom with a world class teacher. I recently had the chance to do this at Caldwell High with some Teach for America teachers. We have many great teachers in Idaho. What I love about TFA is that they place their outstanding teachers in difficult to fill positions in schools with high numbers of kids living in poverty.

Idaho’s Economic Future Looks Bright, But We Must Invest in a Skilled Workforce

by Lt. Governor Brad Little

As has been featured in this publication and a variety of new outlets in the past several months, Idaho’s economy is back to growing at a fast pace following a tough recession and recovery. We have seen the highest job growth in the nation, with a statewide unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, well below the U.S. average of 4.7 percent. Our state has the 10th fastest growing population in the country and our overall economic growth is in the top five for states.

Time to thrive, Idaho

by CDAPress Editorial Staff

Start. Grow. Thrive. Sound like spring? It is. But in Idaho, the goal is eternal spring.

The three words introducing this editorial comprise an important rallying cry of the Idaho Technology Council in its efforts to help tech companies start, grow and thrive. Before you head to the Sports pages or Comics because you think this piece doesn’t apply to you, we ask that you please stick with it. What the Idaho Technology Council is doing today will have a long-term and dramatic impact on the state’s economy. Yes, that means more money for the state to improve education, roads and so on, but to all of us, it also means creating the kind of jobs our kids and grandkids will want; jobs that will pay well enough that they can enjoy a high standard of living; jobs that will challenge them and help them grow as individuals and as citizens.

Study: School-age population in Treasure Valley has risen 40 percent since 2000

by Benton Alexander Smith

A new study that focuses on K-12 students says the school-age population in the Treasure Valley has increased by nearly 40 percent since 2000. The study, commissioned by a new nonprofit organization called Bluum, said the school-age population in the state at large has increased by nearly 13 percent since 2000. Enrollment in the Treasure Valley …

National Report Underscores Idaho's Graduation Rate Challenge

by Kevin Richert

A newly released national study offered some disturbing news: Idaho has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of schools with low graduation rates. But the news shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise — and not to anyone who paid attention to the 2016 legislative session.


Report is Sobering — It's Time for Idahoans to Reach Higher

by Rod Gramer

A new report from the Lumina Foundation contains disappointing news for Idaho. The report says that only 37.7 percent of Idaho’s citizens hold an educational credential higher than a high school diploma. That places Idaho 46th among the states, with West Virginia, Nevada, Alabama and Mississippi lagging behind. Not the best of company.

The Lumina report is sobering for two reasons.

First, research shows that Idaho’s employers need between 60-68 percent of their workers to hold a postsecondary credential by the year 2020. Lumina’s report shows that no Idaho county has more than 60 percent of its workers holding these credentials. The highest is Latah with 55 percent – equal to the No. 1 state in the country, Massachusetts.

Education chief looks for more well-rounded learning

by Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. wants to see a return to a more well-rounded education for schoolchildren, one that spotlights the importance of science, social studies, world languages and the arts.

In a speech Thursday in Las Vegas, King said some schools have focused too intensely on reading and math and testing in those subjects under the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. It was a complaint King heard before coming to Washington, when he was New York’s education commissioner and oversaw the state’s elementary and secondary schools.

State Board Spokesman: Idaho Has Work to do to Hit 60 Percent Goal

by Kevin Richert

New national numbers confirm something the State Board of Education already knows. Idaho faces a tall order in reaching its vaunted “60 percent goal” for college completion. “We have work to do,” State Board spokesman Blake Youde said Wednesday morning. “It’s an affirmation of why we have this push.”

Idaho finds ways to get students to ‘go on’ to college

by Scott Maben, The Spokesman-Review

The promise of opportunity fills Room 241 inside Post Falls High School. The walls are a collage of college pennants. University brochures and scholarship packets abound. Computers are set to explore degree programs or campus housing options.

In a state where less than half of high school graduates move immediately on to higher education, counseling hubs like this are the front lines of a desperate push to turn more teens toward college or career-training programs.

The Policy That Could All But Eliminate Achievement Gaps Between Rich And Poor Students

by Rebecca Klein

The odds are stacked against low-income, black and Hispanic children before they even start school.

Low-income children enter kindergarten 13 months behind their more affluent peers in reading. Black and Hispanic children are nearly seven months and 12 months behind white students in reading, respectively. The initial disparities make it difficult for disadvantaged and minority students to catch up through high school and college.

How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps?

by Allison Friedman-Krauss, W. Steven Barnett, Milagros Nores

Many children of color and children from low-income families enter kindergarten without the academic skills they need to succeed. Compared to their white peers, African American and Hispanic children are anywhere from 9 to 10 months behind in math and 7 to 12 months behind in reading when they enter kindergarten. These achievement gaps are concerning: Math and reading abilities at kindergarten entry are powerful predictors of later school success, and children who enter kindergarten already behind are unlikely to catch up. Moreover, in the past 50 years, minimal progress has been made toward reducing these achievement gaps.

Lt. Gov. Little: Education tops for legislation

by Jeff Selle

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little flew into Coeur d’Alene Friday to attend tonight’s Republican Lincoln Day Dinner but he also found some time to meet with The Press to discuss this year’s legislative session.

Little said while this year’s Legislature dealt with a lot of issues that generated headlines, the bulk of its time and money was spent on following through with its five-year plan to improve the K-12 education system.

Idaho’s STEM Helps 15 Schools Get 3D Printers


Fifteen schools throughout the Gem State are expanding their capabilities to include 3D printing, design and fabrication with help from the Idaho STEM Action Center.

Teachers from each school recently learned how to operate, maintain, and troubleshoot 3D printers at a workshop the STEM Action Center held in Boise in partnership with the Discovery Center of Idaho and the Digital Harbor Foundation.


The K-12 Funding Debate: A New Normal?

by Kevin Richert

State Sen. Brent Hill can remember a time when it was difficult to get a K-12 budget through the Legislature. Not that this requires a long memory. It was only three years ago when the Senate killed the first version of a K-12 spending plan — the result of an unusual public showdown between legislative budget-writers and the Senate Education Committee. This year, the Senate couldn’t have passed the budgets more quickly. No senators debated for or against the bills.

Otter Lauds Session's Education Advances

by Betsy Z. Russell

With the 2016 session of the Idaho Legislature adjourned, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter thanked lawmakers today for approving many of his recommendations aimed at improving public schools for Idaho children and enhancing career training for Idaho workers. “Even where we disagreed on some details, I found a constructive response from the Legislature on what should be a top priority for all of us – educating our citizens to compete and thrive here at home and in the global economy,” Governor Otter said.

The 2016 Session: What Happened? And What Didn't Happen?

by Kevin Richert

The 2016 legislative session was busy on the K-12 front. Many big-ticket items in a $1.58 billion K-12 budget sailed through with bipartisan support. When all the numbers came in, legislators passed a 7.4 percent budget increase for K-12. They didn’t match Gov. Butch Otter’s request, but they met their goal of matching the 7.4 percent increase approved a year ago. After some public fits and starts, lawmakers managed to get on the same page on a literacy plan.

Otter Signs Literacy Bills, Downplays Funding Gap

by Kevin Richert

Gov. Butch Otter signed a pair of literacy bills into law Wednesday — and pledged to get results with the new funding that’s on its way. “Our work is just beginning,” said Otter. The two bills, which now become law on July 1, represent the policy end of Otter’s literacy initiative. House Bill 526will require school districts to provide 30 to 60 hours of extra help to kindergartners through third-graders who are not reading at grade level. House Bill 451 would require parents to be notified if their children are reading below grade level.

If Idahoans Can Get Behind Our Education Goals, We Will Achieve Them

Guest Opinion by Bob Lokken

Idaho Business for Education (IBE) recently released the 2015 Idaho College and Career Readiness Report. This report is a strong indicator of how many Idaho high school students are prepared to take on the rigors of post secondary education.

Working Together to Move Idaho Education Forward

Guest Opinion by Don Coberly and Rod Gramer

Thanks to a significant investment from the Legislature, successful implementation by local school leaders, and hard work from our students Idaho is leading the nation when it comes to high school students getting a jump start on their post secondary education. In 2014-15, Idaho’s 11th and 12th grade students earned more than 100,000 college credits through the state’s Dual Credit program. The early success of this program is a good indicator that we can make progress towards preparing students for college-level work.

Portland Kids Will Boost School District Numbers in Burnt River

by Rachel Monahan

Tucked into a budget bill passed earlier this month by the Oregon Legislature was a $260,000 allocation for an unusual program that will send Portland high school students to the desert. A semester in the country will soon be available in the Burnt River School District, located in the Eastern Oregon town of Unity.

Use Data to Mobilize Community Action

Guest Opinion by Bob Lokken

Sharing metrics always comes with some risk. People may misinterpret what the data means. So let me be clear: These scores are not an indictment of our teachers or our schools. We have hard working teachers and professionals across the state. Rather these scores are a reflection of our communities’ historical priorities.

Business Leader: Only 20 Percent of Students are Ready for College

by Clark Corbin

Based on last year’s SAT results, about 20 percent of Idaho’s high school juniors are prepared for college or a career, an Idaho business leader told the Legislature’s education committees Wednesday. Idaho Business for Education board chairman Bob Lokken released a report called “2015 Idaho High School Career & College Readiness Scores,” breaking down juniors’ SAT scores by individual districts and schools.

Bedke: Literacy Should be Idaho's Top Education Priority

by Kevin Richert

Literacy isn’t just a loose end in the 2016-17 K-12 budget. It should be Idaho’s top education priority, House Speaker Scott Bedke told reporters Tuesday. “There is no excuse for graduating third graders who are not reading at grade level,” Bedke, R-Oakley, said during a luncheon meeting sponsored by the Idaho Press Club.

Building Idaho’s 21st Century Workforce, One Reader at a Time

Guest Opinion by Jean De Luca, IBE Board Member

The Idaho Legislature has a significant opportunity this session to make one of the most important investments it can ever make in the future of our children. Gov. Butch Otter is asking lawmakers to invest $10.7 million to help struggling readers become proficient. This money would be earmarked to help those children who are struggling to read in kindergarten through third grade, some 36,000 of them.

What's an Idaho College Education Worth?

by Bill Roberts

A new Idaho study shows college may be a good investment. Four Boise State students talk about the economic value they see in their degrees.

Little, Ed Officials Say Need is Too Great to Drop State's College Goal

By Nathan Brown

Boosting the number of young people with post-high school degrees by 20 percentage points in four years might be an ambitious goal. But, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and others said Monday, the need for a better-educated workforce is too great for the state to take its eye off the ball.

“It’s important for us now to stay the course,” Rod Gramer, head of Idaho Business for Education, told a joint meeting of the Senate and House education committees. “It’s important for us now to see this agenda through.”


Senators on Panel Endorse ‘Go-On’ Goal; Lawmakers Hear from Teachers of Year, Ybarra

By Betsy Z. Russell, Eye on Boise

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little pressed the Senate and House Education committees today to support his resolution backing the state’s “go-on” goal, which calls for 60 percent of Idahoans age 25-34 to have a post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2020. “It starts in our homes, where we teach our children the value of education and hard work and helping them be prepared to read when they start in school, but all along their education pathway, that we talk about the value of education,” Little told the two committees, which are meeting jointly this afternoon in the Lincoln Auditorium.


Otter’s Education Focus Runs From Kindergartens to Colleges

By Bill Roberts

Gov. Butch Otter spent more than half of his State of the State speech Monday talking about education goals from kindergarten through college.

“I think it was probably a State of the State focused on education more than any one I have heard,” said Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education, a group of active and retired corporate leaders advocating for education reform.


Idaho Leaders Take Lessons From National Experts

By Jennifer Swindell

Tony Bennett says school choice works. He also emphasizes the importance of setting standards in education, aligning appropriate assessments and attaching accountability, calling them the “three legs of the same stool.”


Local Control Demands Local Responsibility

Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

Nation at Risk. No Child Left Behind. Race to the Top. Every Student Succeeds. If we have learned nothing else over the past three decades, we have learned that words do not prepare students for success. Only a laser-like focus on student academic achievement will do the job.


Tough Work Ahead for Legislators on Academic Measures

Guest Opinion by Rod Gramer

Political observers believe the 1965 Legislature was one of the greatest sessions in Idaho history because of the landmark legislation it passed. Now, 50 years later, the 2015 Legislature has an opportunity to leave its mark on history by supporting several initiatives that will help transform our education system into one of the best in the country.


Idaho's Graduation Rates Well Below National Average

By Kevin Richert

Idaho’s graduation rate tied for 41st in the nation in 2013-14, according to new numbers released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. Idaho’s graduation rate came in at 77.3 percent; the national rate was 82.3 percent. The state’s 77.3 percent figure isn’t new; the State Department of Education released it in March. But the national report places Idaho’s rate in new context.


Sayer Continues to Urge Workforce, Education Investments

By Clark Corbin

Outgoing Commerce Director Jeff Sayer continued to make his case Thursday that legislators and business leaders should invest in work force development to secure Idaho’s economic future. Sayer made the point Oct. 6, when he urged a legislative tax working group not to cut taxes, but to pair investments in public education and infrastructure with tactical support of professional-technical education and work force development.