I hope that everyone in Idaho becomes familiar with IBE and their mission to be a driving force in the development and implementation of Idaho education policy that results in graduates with post-secondary credentials and who are workforce ready.
– C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho Governor
Idaho Business for Education (IBE) continues to support efforts to achieve the state’s goal of having 60 percent of our 25-34- year-old workers hold a post-secondary credential by 2025. Although this is an ambitious goal, it is not an academic one for our businesses. Employers across Idaho are already experiencing a shortage of educated and skilled workers. These are not just Idaho’s high-technology companies. The shortage of educated workers is also hurting some of Idaho’s most iconic industries such as agriculture, food processing and forest products.
Research shows that in the 21st Century the states with the best educated workforce will win the economic race. That’s why the most important public policy the Legislature can pursue is the creation of the highly educated and trained workforce Idaho’s employers need. By focusing single-mindedly on this effort Idaho can set our students up for success in school, work and life and build the workforce that will lead to a vibrant economy for years to come.
Click on the links below to read more about each initiative for 2018.
Idaho School Readiness Act
IBE believes one of the most effective ways to solve the reading problem is to reach struggling readers as early as possible. In Idaho, 49 percent of the children do not come into kindergarten ready to learn how to read, meaning they can’t recognize basic letters or know how to print their name. As a result, thousands of children do not have a fair opportunity for success at the academic starting gate and many of them will never catch up with their peers. IBE supports the adoption of the Idaho School Readiness Act which gives parents the choice between home or off-site programs to get their four-year-olds ready to learn in kindergarten. School readiness is one of the best investments the state can make. Research shows that for every dollar spent on school readiness taxpayers can save many times that amount on remediation, incarceration, and social services. We have a choice as a state – either prepare students so they have a fair chance to be successful or spend more money repairing them. IBE believes it’s a no-brainer to invest now – not wait until we waste lives and taxpayers’ money. Read IBE’s white paper on the Idaho School Readiness Act.
Higher Academic Standards
From the beginning IBE has been one of the strongest supporters of the Idaho Core Standards. In 2013, IBE led the formation of a broad coalition of 34 groups to support the full implementation of the Standards. In 2014, the IBE-led coalition received a $200,000 grant to conduct a public information campaign to educate people about how important the standards are to improving education outcomes. This year IBE obtained another $60,000 grant to continue this campaign which you can follow on TV, radio and social media. During the 2015 legislative session, IBE successfully continued its effort to defend the standards against efforts to repeal or weaken them, including testifying against a resolution that would have led to the rewriting of the standards. The Senate Education Committee ended up killing the resolution just following IBE’s testimony against the resolution.
Pay for Success
The Legislature approved House Bill 170 – the so-called “Pay for Success” bill – that creates an innovative and market-driven funding mechanism to advance specific education efforts in Idaho. With Pay for Success, the state can contract with private investors to fund specific efforts to improve student academic achievement. Before the legislative session, IBE met with the bill’s sponsors and provided input on the bill. IBE then briefed the Governor on the concept last fall so that he would be supportive if and when it passed the Legislature. During the legislative session IBE testified in favor of the Pay for Success bill before the House and Senate Education Committees. The sponsors were highly appreciative of IBE lending its support and credibility to the effort.
Academic and Career Coaching
IBE gave its support in the Legislature to two bills that would provide more guidance to high school students thinking about their post-secondary education and careers. One of these was an initiative by the community college presidents to hire academic and career coaches that would work for the community colleges and interface with high school students. IBE South Central Idaho Chair Curtis Eaton was one of the community college leaders that helped craft and promote this concept. The other was a law that IBE testified in support of that would hire more high school guidance advisors to help students plan their post-secondary education that would lead to a credential and skills to fill a much-needed job in the Idaho economy.
STEM Action Center
The Legislature passed House Bill 302 creating a STEM Action Center that will be singularly focused on advancing STEM education and careers. Right now several educational and economic agencies are working to advance STEM, but there is no coordinated effort. The STEM Action Center will coordinate the efforts of the K-12 and the higher education systems, with key state agencies like Commerce and Labor, and align them with private industry. IBE’s involvement with this effort started with discussions with Micron and others about creating a center similar to one in Utah. Those discussions, including IBE, picked up steam when a bipartisan “STEM Caucus” was created in the Legislature. During consideration of HB302 IBE provided input to the sponsors, briefed the governor to win his support and testified in favor of the bill before the House and Senate Education Committees. At the bill signing, Governor Otter invited IBE President Rod Gramer to make a few comments about how important the STEM Center will be to help us fill critical STEM-related jobs in the Idaho economy.
IBE has been one of the strongest and earliest supporters of the Idaho Core Standards, and helped create IdahoCoreStandards.org to help educate others about the Standards. In 2013, IBE led the formation of a broad coalition of 34 groups to support the full implementation of the Standards. IBE continues to promote and protect the Idaho Core Standards.
What are the Idaho Core Standards?
The Idaho Core Standards are a set of higher expectations in math and English that were developed by state leaders to ensure that every student graduates high school prepared for the future. These new standards are replacing Idaho’s old set of expectations for students. Teaching and learning focus on critical thinking, strong writing skills, and problem solving – the real world skills that students need upon graduation.
How Will Students Benefit from the Idaho Core Standards?
By moving to the Idaho Core Standards, Idaho is ensuring that our students are held to the same high expectations as students across the country. The new standards focus on developing students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills – real world skills that students need to be successful in today’s workforce. In addition, Idaho’s new standards focus on a deeper understanding of materials, not just basic memorization and test-taking skills. Finally, the new standards are clear and focused, allowing teachers to explore important topics in depth with students, rather than skimming the surface of numerous topics to prepare students for tests.
How do the Idaho Core Standards Benefit Idaho?
Click here for more infographics, videos, parent resources and additional information about the Idaho Core Standards.
Continuous Improvement Law
Two years ago, the Idaho Legislature passed a law that requires every school district to develop an annual plan with measurable goals to improve student academic achievement. If followed, this law would put school districts on a path of “continuous improvement” year after year – a sure way to improve student academic growth and excellence. This law was one of the 20 recommendations that came from the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Education. As a member of the Task Force, IBE’s Chair Bob Lokken was instrumental advocating for and developing the framework which eventually became law. In implementing the “Schoolhouse Strategy,” IBE members can work with local school leaders to use the “Continuous Improvement” law as a vehicle to get measurable results. There is power in utilizing the annual planning process to engage and rally the community, parents, teachers, and school leaders around an effective blueprint to help students achieve academic excellence.