Idaho Department Of Education

Jessie L. Bonner / AP Images


The number of Latino students in Idaho schools has almost doubled in the past two decades, making up 18 percent of the population in public school enrollment. But, that same population is consistently falling behind state averages. We talk with two reporters who are investigating the significant achievement gap between white and Latino students, and what they might learn when it comes to solutions. 

education, election
Courtesy Sherri Ybarra

Last week, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra called a meeting of her "Red Tape Committee," a group of 18 education leaders formed to reduce red tape in the Department of Education. But the public and the press were kept out and the meeting was held behind closed doors. Clark Corbin from Idaho Ed News joins Idaho Matters to talk about why the meeting was kept secret.

Brett Sayer / Flickr

Twenty percent of Idaho high school students have thought seriously about suicide. This is according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the state’s Department of Education.

The survey looks at the 2014-2015 school year. One in five students had serious thoughts of suicide and three percent had actually attempted suicide.

Idaho Department of Education

This adorable penguin was drawn by Sawtooth Elementary fifth-grader Kylee Thiel. It was submitted from Twin Falls along with other pictures from around the state in the Idaho State Department of Education's Holiday Card Contest.

Idaho Schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said Thiel's artwork was the winner. It will be featured on the Department's holiday greeting card. Thiel will also get a certificate and copies of the card to share with family and friends.

Legislative auditors say Idaho wasted $61 million on a software system to track and improve student performance that doesn't work for most districts.

However, a top Idaho State Department of Education official on Tuesday says the blame does not rest with the agency's current administration.

In a new report released Monday, legislative auditors found that the department gave all school districts access to Schoolnet but did not provide enough financial support or technical training. The department then minimized the system's problems.

Cursive, education
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education is proposing several new rules that would affect what kids learn. But creating a new education rule in Idaho is a bit like a soccer game. There’s a long period of passing back and forth before the goal is reached. Take this one: a proposal to require elementary students learn cursive handwriting.

roland / Flickr Creative Commons

A company installing wireless Internet networks in Idaho public schools says it will reduce the contract's price tag amid pressure from lawmakers who question the deal.

The Spokesman-Review reported Friday that Tennessee-based Education Networks of America and the State Department of Education agreed the company will be paid only for schools it connects with Wi-Fi system, not get a flat fee.

apple, fruit
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Department of Education released its school rankings last week for the 2012-2013 school year. Before the updated list came out, we told you there was a strong connection between poverty and low achieving schools based on the 2011-2012 rankings.

200 Idaho Schools Signed Up For State Wi-Fi Contract

Aug 2, 2013

About 200 Idaho high schools have signed up to get Wi-Fi internet under the state’s new contract with a Tennessee-based company. Signing that contract brought the state’s Department of Education under fire last week. Some lawmakers thought the multi-year agreement violated the spirit of what the legislature had authorized the department to do when it set aside $2.25 million for Wi-Fi in the coming school year.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education signed a contract Wednesday for $2.1 million a year with Tennessee-based company Education Networks of America (ENA) to provide Wi-Fi internet access to the state’s high schools. But that came after a day of criticism around the decision.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education has announced 11 schools will share $3 million for technology pilot projects.

Eighty-one schools applied for the grants. The requests totaled nearly $20 million.

Here are the schools that get the money and what they plan to do with it.

Getting more Idahoans to go on to college is the top education goal for the state. But sometimes state agencies disagree about how to realize that. Take a report issued last year by Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluations. OPE evaluates state agencies and programs.

Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman

A widely circulated article says Idaho school districts won’t save much money by switching to a four day school week. Pocatello’s Idaho State Journal cites a report called “Review of a 4-Day School Week,” which says there are minimal savings when districts switch to a four day school week.

But that story fails to point out that the report was published five years ago, in 2008. Since that time the number of Idaho districts with a four day week has tripled. For some districts even small savings were a big temptation.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers are considering a re-write of the state's charter school law. Thursday they'll hear from the public.

Idaho was an early adopter of charter schools. Fifteen years ago, the state passed a law to allow the publicly funded, privately run schools to be created. Since then the only major change has been the formation of a commission to oversee charter schools. In recent years, though, Idaho has slipped from being one of the charter-friendliest states in the country to one of the least. 

Idaho’s high school graduation rate is better than all but nine states with 84 percent of students graduating on time. That’s according to a report out this week from the U.S. Department of Education. But the annual report has a multi-year lag.  This one looks at the 2009-2010 school year.

It also uses a method of counting grads and dropouts that even the authors consider antiquated. It compares the number of diplomas a state hands out with the number of students registered for 9th grade four years earlier.

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has asked the State Board of Education to shepherd a statewide discussion about improving education for students.

Otter said Thursday a broadly representative group of Idahoans yet to be selected will study options that could lead to changes without lawmakers creating new laws.

But he says if the group determines legislation is necessary, lawmakers could take up the ideas in 2014.

Idaho To Revive School Safety Group

Dec 17, 2012

Idaho’s Department of Education will reconvene a group that made safety recommendations for Idaho schools four years ago. That’s from a memo that schools’ superintendent Tom Luna sent Monday to district leaders, charter school administrators and school principals. The memo comes in response to Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut.

How Idaho’s Juniors Fared On The SAT

Sep 10, 2012
albertogp123 / Flickr

Idaho’s SAT scores dropped this year. That’s what the state’s Department of Education expected. Monday the department released the results of its first statewide SAT day.

In April the state paid for all high school juniors to take the college entrance exam. It’s part of new graduation requirements for the class of 2013. Only two other states do this.

Nearly 17,000 Idaho juniors took the test this year.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s School Superintendent wants the state to spend 5.1 percent more on education next year. Tom Luna released his proposed budget Thursday for fiscal year 2014. In January he’ll ask lawmakers to approve it.