IDAHO DID NOT MEET ANY OF ITS ACHIEVEMENT BENCHMARKS during the first four years of a federally mandated, five-year improvement plan.
Idaho’s Department of Education set benchmarks towards meeting 2022 education goals. These goals aim to improve education for all Idaho students. We are publishing Idaho’s benchmarks and goals in a user-friendly format to hold lawmakers and educators accountable for taxpayer dollars and student achievement.
ABOUT THE DATA:
These seven measurements were either selected by state education leaders as compliance measures for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act or were supported heavily by taxpayer investment.
The math, English language arts, progress of English proficiency are measured by Idaho’s standardized test (ISAT). They also are part of Idaho’s ESSA plan and have yearly interim targets and 2022 benchmark goals.
Idaho’s high school graduation is measured for ESSA and has yearly interim targets and 2022 benchmark goals. Idaho measures four- and five-year cohorts for graduation rates.
Student engagement is a part of Idaho’s ESSA plan for accountability. The state does not have progress goals for student engagement. The engagement percentage is determined by a state-administered survey of all Idaho K-12 students.
The other two measures — reading and post-secondary degree attainment — are priorities for Idaho’s Gov. Brad Little and the State Board of Education.
Improving literacy was such a priority for Little — he promoted and the Legislature agreed to double the taxpayer investment to improve reading for the 2019 school year. Literacy is measured by the Idaho Reading Indicator, which determines how many children are proficient at their grade level in grades K-3.
Finally, the State Board of Education set a goal for 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a degree or certificate by 2025.
The State Department of Education developed Idaho’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan in 2016 and 2017. Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, State Board of Education then-President Linda Clark and former Gov. Butch Otter all signed off on it in 2017. Then, the State Board unanimously approved the plan before submitting it to the U.S. Department of Education, which approved it in March 2018.
The SDE held public ESSA hearings in 2017 and education groups and advocates weighed in on the interim targets (yearly) and long-term (2022) goals.
Marilyn Whitney, the SDE’s deputy for communications and policy, said officials and stakeholders tried to strike the right balance when developing the goals. They wanted the goals to be realistic yet at the same time have high expectations, she said.
Idaho’s goals to comply with ESSA call for increasing test scores and closing achievement gaps. Specifically, Idaho’s long-term goal for English/language arts and mathematics is to reduce the percentage of nonproficient students by 33 percent over six years.
In order to stay on track, Idaho’s plan outlined a series of yearly interim targets that incrementally broke down the difference between the long-term goal and the baseline.
The test taken for ESSA goals is the ISAT, an online test aligned to state academic standards, including Idaho’s version of Common Core. It’s administered every spring in elementary, junior high and high school classes.
Although state education officials celebrated an increase in high school graduation rates over recent years, the figure everyone celebrated was short of the target from Idaho’s ESSA plan. The state set a target of having 84.8 percent of students graduate high school. The graduation rate was 80.6 percent. There is still time to recover by 2022, but Idaho is already behind schedule.
The graduation rate is determined by the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who entered high school four (or five) years earlier. This calculation is adjusted for transfer students, those who emigrate or are deceased.
IDAHO READING INDICATOR
This test is not a part of Idaho’s ESSA plan but it measures reading or pre-reading skills of Idaho’s kindergarten through third-grade students. They take the test in the fall — as a baseline measure — and again in the spring to gauge progress.
The state is using a new IRI test, adopted in 2018-19. While the old test measured only reading speed, the new test tracks students on a variety of metrics. As a result, the SDE says the new scores cannot be compared with previous years.
Literacy is an important metric because Idaho Gov. Brad Little has made it one of his priorities. He convinced the 2019 Legislature to put $26 million into programs to help at-risk readers, doubling the previous year’s budget. Schools have a range of options — they can spend their share of the money on all-day kindergarten, or hire coaches to work with reading teachers. The data could help state officials determine the most effective programs to help struggling readers.
60 PERCENT GOAL:
The state’s leaders want 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to obtain a degree or certificate. They say high school graduates need to continue their education in order to prepare for a modern job market, and help Idaho compete in a changing economy.
Idaho’s postsecondary completion rate has been stagnant for three straight years and stalled at 42 percent.
The numbers haven’t moved despite more than $133 million in new state spending and an ongoing drive from education, political and business leaders.
The state was even forced to push forward the target date, abandoning the original 2020 goal to a 2025 goal.
WHERE THE NUMBERS CAME FROM
The data for this report card comes from the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education. In some cases, data is redacted when it may be possible to identify individuals.
The data sets include only students who are continuously enrolled in the first 56 days. State code says: "A student who is enrolled continuously in the same public school from the end of the first 8 weeks or 56 calendar days of the school year through the state approved testing administration period, not including the make-up portion of the test window, will be included in the calculation to determine if the school achieved progress in any statewide assessment used for determining proficiency. A student is continuously enrolled if the student has not transferred, or dropped-out of the public school. Students who are serving suspensions are still considered to be enrolled students."