Monday, June 14, 2010

Idaho is One of Nine States Setting the Pace on School Improvement

Representatives from nine states are in Coeur d’Alene this week to discuss ways in which they can further improve school improvement efforts and statewide systems of support.

It’s all a part of the Center on Innovation and Improvement’s Academy of Pacesetting States’ conference.

The goal of the Academy is to create well-trained, highly skilled change agents and instructional experts in states who will work together to build capacity for improvement in districts and schools.

Idaho is one of nine states selected to take part. Other states include Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

By choosing to participate in the Academy, these states have expressed their desire to strive for excellence and devote sufficient resources and attention to make a high-quality statewide system of support a reality. The program focuses on leveraging existing resources so states can more effectively (and cost-effectively) support school improvement efforts.

Idaho is hosting the Academy’s meeting this week. State Superintendent Tom Luna will keynote the conference this evening.

At the conference, Superintendent Luna will highlight the great strides Idaho schools have made in raising student achievement, in large part due to Idaho’s Statewide System of Support that offers support at the district, school and classroom levels.

The cornerstone of Idaho’s Statewide System of Support is the Idaho Building Capacity Project. Through this project, the State Department of Education offers on-site technical assistance to struggling schools and districts for three years. The assistance includes the help of a trained outside consultant and research-based professional development for staff.

Currently, the state is serving 91 schools and district offices through the Idaho Building Capacity Project, which is funded through federal School Improvement funds. Participating schools have seen great success in increasing student achievement over the past three years since the program began.

In addition, Idaho has created additional supports to provide professional development to instructional leaders through the Idaho Superintendents’ Network and Principal Academy of Leadership. Last year, the state implemented a research-based online planning tool to further assist Idaho schools in planning for school improvement.

As result, the state has seen tremendous growth in student achievement over the past two years. In 2007, 26% of Idaho schools reached our high academic goals. Now, 66% of schools meet these goals.

~ Melissa M.

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