Idaho Ed News

Idaho Ed News

The Idaho Supreme Court has sided with the Legislature and the State Board of Education in a budget tug-of-war with state superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

Screenshot / Idaho Ed News

After nearly 90 minutes of constitutional arguments and pointed questions, a turf war between state superintendent Sherri Ybarra, the Legislature and the State Board of Education is now in the Idaho Supreme Court's hands.

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. 

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Idaho has a goal of seeing 60 percent of its young people obtain a college degree or certificate. The campaign to get completion levels to that threshold began seven years ago. New data reveals minimal progress toward the 60 percent figure.


Idaho Ed News

Schools chief Sherri Ybarra is making it official, formally launching her re-election bid today.

Ybarra, a Republican from Mountain Home, was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014.

She first told Idaho Education News in a videotaped interview in December 2015 that she would seek a second term in 2018.

Idaho Ed News

Reading scores improved in the first year of Idaho’s $11.25 million “literacy initiative,” but most scores fell short of the goals set by local educators.

More than two-thirds of spring 2017 test scores failed to meet the benchmark goals school leaders set in the fall of 2016, according to an Idaho Education News analysis of test scores and local reading plans.

Mark Ramsay / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s 2016 college “go-on” numbers are up slightly, compared to a similar snapshot from 2015.

But even if the numbers are improving — and that’s still open to interpretation — they also show that Idaho has a long way to go to meet its ambitious college graduation goals.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho’s higher education task force could set a number of ambitious goals — including a marked improvement in SAT scores.

One of the task force’s work groups wants to see 60 percent of Idaho’s high school juniors meet the SAT’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks by 2022-23.

That’s a big lift. In April, only 32 percent of Idaho high school juniors met the SAT benchmarks.

Erik Schepers / Flickr

Reading scores among the state's youngest students are up a year after a pricey literacy initiative was launched. The State Department of Education released spring reading scores this week.

The data reveals more students between kindergarten and third grade are reading at the appropriate level and fewer kids are lagging behind.

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Idaho high school juniors are more likely to miss the two “college-readiness” benchmarks on the SAT than hit both benchmarks.

Only 32 percent of juniors met the SAT benchmarks, down from 33 percent a year ago.

Idaho released the April SAT scores last week, and the news isn’t encouraging. Idaho’s free “SAT Day” allows high school juniors a chance to see if they’re ready for college. SAT Day also takes a snapshot of Idaho high schoolers — 13 months before graduation day.

Idaho Ed News

Based on the experience in other states, it could take three to five years for Idaho to rewrite its school funding formula.

And based on Tuesday’s hearing, a panel of Idaho lawmakers doesn’t seem to be much interested in a rush job.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho college tuition and fees have increased more than fivefold since 1980, when cost figures are adjusted for inflation.

That’s the conclusion from a new report issued by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, a nonpartisan budget think tank.

Idaho Ed News

Districts and charter schools made up less than a quarter of the school days lost to the severe winter of 2016-17, according to Idaho Education News research.

Administrators also used longer school days to make up for lost learning hours — and comply with state classroom time requirements.

Idaho Ed News

In 2015-16, legislators earmarked $16.1 million to reward teachers who take on leadership roles.

Lawmakers want these ongoing “leadership premiums” to go to select teachers who take on added responsibilities. Yet 19 districts gave a share of the money to at least 90 percent of their teaching staff.

Lawmakers also wanted eligible teachers to receive a significant bonus — writing an $850 minimum into state statute. Eighteen districts and charter schools awarded smaller premiums anyway. The smallest was $75.

Idaho Ed News

For school districts across Idaho, a $709 million election day looms.

At least 45 of Idaho’s 115 school districts will seek bond issues, plant facilities levies or supplemental levies on March 14, according to Idaho Education News research. The bottom line: At least $709.2 million in ballot measures are on ballot.

Under Idaho law, school districts can run ballot measures on four election days: in March, May, August and November.

Why the logjam on March 14? Timing is certainly a factor.

Idaho Ed News

Sen. Dean Mortimer has a $20.3 million plan to help schools cover health insurance costs.

Education groups are split on the idea. Depending on who you listen to, Mortimer’s plan could help schools attract and keep teachers. Or, it could exacerbate Idaho’s teacher shortage.

At some point, the Senate Education Committee will vote on the idea.

Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, uses some complicated math to construct his Senate Bill 1096.

Idaho Ed News

House Speaker Scott Bedke has joined 140 GOP officials in endorsing Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s controversial choice for education secretary.

Bedke co-signed a letter calling DeVos “an advocate and ally for all children.” The letter was signed by state school superintendents, lieutenant governors and legislators from all 50 states. Bedke was the lone Idahoan to sign on — and said he did so at the urging of the Republican National Committee.

Idaho Ed News

While Idaho distributes most of its K-12 dollars based on student population, its literacy dollars are an exception.

The state uses Idaho Reading Indicator test scores to determine where to spend its $11.25 million in literacy money.

Idaho Ed News

In Erika Carpenter’s second-grade class, a handful of students are working on the basics of reading. They are sounding out letters, one by one, in small words: real words and nonsense words alike.

Down the hall at Boise’s Koelsch Elementary School, kindergartners are working on similar drills. The second-graders are trying to catch up — and there is no way to rush them along. The best way to bridge the gap is through constant and time-consuming repetition.

Idaho Ed News

As Idaho embarks on a new multimillion 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.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho’s supplemental levy bill has hit an all-time record this year.

Property taxpayers will shell out $188.8 million in voter-approved supplemental levies in 2016-17 — up from $186.6 million in 2015-16.

The previous high-water mark was $188.1 million in 2013-14, as Idaho schools were digging out from the aftereffects of the Great Recession.

But the rising supplemental levy bill comes after Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature approved 7.4 percent funding increases for K-12 for the past two successive years.

Wade Morgen / Flickr Creative Commons

While Idaho’s college go-on rates continue to lag, Idaho’s college enrollment numbers are trending upward.

From spring 2015 to spring 2016, Idaho college enrollment increased by 3.2 percent, according to a National Student Clearinghouse report.

The Idaho numbers defy the national trends; overall, enrollment dropped by 1.3 percent in this same time period. Idaho’s 3.2 percent increase also ranked fourth in the nation, trailing only New Hampshire, Utah and Arizona.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho students topped the national average in a 2015 standardized science test.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress tested fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders in science — and on Thursday morning, NAEP released state results for fourth and eighth grades. NAEP tests are not given in all schools in Idaho or elsewhere, but are instead administered to a sample of U.S. schools.

The Idaho highlights:

AP

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have found plenty to talk about in two testy, nationally televised debates.

But K-12 hasn’t made its way through the noise.

And there’s no guarantee Wednesday night’s third and final debate will be any different.

So, if the two major party candidates were forced to debate K-12 topics, what would it sound like? To get a sense of how a K-12 debate might play out, Idaho Education News gleaned comments from the candidates’ websites and media interviews.

Question: What letter grade would you give the nation’s schools?

Mark Ramsay / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s 2014-15 graduation rate again fell well below the national average — but the numbers showed some signs of improvement.

Idaho’s ranking moved up, slightly, and the state’s graduation rate is nudging closer to the national average.

Idaho’s 78.9 percent graduation rate ranked No. 39 nationally, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.

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