An Annual Report on Idaho’s Own Education Goals

Idahoans rate education as their
#1 priority.

And every year, Idaho students slip further and further behind.

Without a high school diploma, it is much more difficult to find a job. An uneducated workforce also hurts 
Idaho’s economy and limits what the state can accomplish. Idaho has a shortage of skilled workers.

How do we make sure Idaho’s young adults are academically prepared after high school?

This is not just a question for teachers or parents, but also for citizens, legislators and business leaders. 
We all share the responsibility to offer Idaho kids a fair chance to learn and develop employable skills.

Read the Report

Take a Closer Look

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (or ESSA) in 2015 as the nationwide law for K–12 public education. The goal of the ESSA was to improve education for all students, regardless of their race, their household income, or where they lived.

The ESSA requires each state to create education goals based on its own curriculum. If states improved, the nation would improve.

Idaho asked teachers, trustees, administrators, and citizens to help create its goals.

After much discussion, Idaho leaders agreed on this plan to:

  • Improve math, reading and writing skills
  • Track school engagement
  • Increase graduation rates

Idaho's Core Standards are the content that Idaho educators agree to teach at each grade level. Idaho set these standards to ensure that educators across the state teach the same material. Tests are aligned to Idaho’s Core Standards.

Tests scores are a consistent measure of learning. They reveal subjects where students are doing well, and where they are not. Scores allow parents to compare schools, and help legislators track progress and measure successes.

1.

Third-Grade Reading Proficiency

About the test: Students in grades K-3 take the Idaho Reading Indicator or IRI twice a year:

  • In the fall → To get a baseline
  • In the spring → To measure what they learned

What this means: Third-grade reading performance has decreased each year, and in 2021, about 30,000 of Idaho’s students in grades K-3 could not read at their grade levels. Idaho taxpayers have invested $65 million over the past three years to make sure Idaho’s kids learn to read.

2022 State Goal
100%
2018
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Actual value
2019
Goal value
Actual value
2020
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Actual value
2021
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*Testing was waived during the pandemic

When a student scores “Proficient” it means they have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in future coursework.

In third grade, children advance from learning to read to reading to learn. If a child struggles with reading after third grade, it makes learning much more difficult.

2.

ISAT

About the test: Idaho students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the Idaho Standards Achievement Test or ISAT at the end of the school year. The test measures proficiency in math, reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills.

2a.

Math

What this means: Idaho’s math scores have gotten worse over recent years. In 2021, about 103,000 Idaho students scored below proficient in math.

2022 State Goal
61.1%
2018
Goal value
Actual value
2019
Goal value
Actual value
2020
Goal value
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2021
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*Testing was waived during the pandemic

See how your school compares »
2b.

English Language Arts

What this means: Idaho’s English Language Arts scores have stagnated. In 2021, about 80,000 Idaho students scored below proficient in reading and writing.

2022 State Goal
68.7%
2018
Goal value
Actual value
2019
Goal value
Actual value
2020
Goal value
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2021
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*Testing was waived during the pandemic

See how your school compares »
3.

English Proficiency

About the test: English proficiency tests measure how well students learning English as a second language can understand, speak, read, and write in English.

What this means: In the past year, the percent of students making adequate progress towards English proficiency fell 14% -- it is a percentage point change, not a percent change.

2022 State Goal
80.1%
2018
Goal value
Actual value
2019
Goal value
Actual value
2020
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2021
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4.

Graduation Rates

What this means: Most Idaho students graduate from high school, but Idaho still ranks 41st in the nation for graduation rate. In 2020, more than 4,200 Idaho seniors did not graduate.

4a.

Four-Year Graduation Rate

2022 Goal
94.9%
2018
Goal value
Actual value
2019
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2020
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2021
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4b.

Five-Year Graduation Rate

2022 Goal
95.5%
2018
Goal value
Actual value
2019
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2020
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2021
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* Data not collected during the pandemic

5.

Post-Secondary Degree/Certificate Attainment

What this means: Idaho’s goal is for 60% of high school graduates to get a post-high school degree or certificate. More students are pursuing post-high school education than in years past, but we still lag about 16 points behind the state goal.

2025 Goal
60%
2015
Actual value
2016
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2017
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2018
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2019
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2020
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2021
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6.

Student Engagement

About the survey: Each year, Idaho students answer a 21-question survey that asks about:

  • How motivated they feel to learn
  • How included they feel in the classroom
  • How comfortable they feel asking for help
  • How important school is to them

What this means: Student engagement fell to a new low during the pandemic. In 2021, less than half of Idaho students reported being engaged in school.

100%
2018
Actual value
2019
Actual value
2020
Actual value
2021
Actual value

*Testing was waived during the pandemic

When students are engaged in school, they learn more and perform better on tests.