Tuesday, April 27, 2010

$3.8 million in scholarships awarded at 2010 Hispanic Youth Symposium

Regional colleges and universities awarded scholarships to nearly 190 students from across Idaho at the 2010 Hispanic Youth Symposium held in Sun Valley this month.

This year, the Hispanic Youth Symposium brought some 300 Idaho Latino high school students together for a weekend of motivational speakers and interactive workshops. Students also participated in speech, talent, art, and athletic and interactive skill contests.

The symposium targets the important themes of school dropout prevention, continuing education, taking pride in Latino culture and breaking the cycle of poverty. Through the symposium, students learn that nothing is impossible because they have the power to shape their own futures.

During the annual meeting, students were awarded more than $3.8 million in scholarships!

Sofia Jaramillo of Boise High School was awarded the $2,500 Natalie Lupe Reyes Memorial Scholarship, given to the outstanding female student of the symposium. She also received a $32,800 scholarship to College of Idaho and a $1,000 GSDI scholarship for second place in the art competition.

Rigoberto Zaragoza of Columbia High School was awarded the $2,500 Frank Gamboa Sanchez Memorial Scholarship, given to the outstanding male student of the symposium.

The symposium was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, contractors at Idaho National Laboratory, Gem State Diversity Initiatives, state agencies and private employers. Educational institutions awarding scholarships were: Boise State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, College of Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Eastern Idaho Technical College, Gonzaga University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College, Northwest Nazarene University, University of Idaho, University of Montana, Utah State University and Treasure Valley Community College. Several schools also offered College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) scholarships. In addition, Gem State Diversity Initiatives (GSDI) awarded scholarships for all competitive events as well as to students showing promise -- $1,000 to seniors (Si Se Puede) and $500 to juniors (Querer Es Poder).

Learn more about the 2010 Hispanic Youth Symposium.

~ Melissa M.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Albertson Foundation Issues “Go On” Challenge to Idaho High Schools

Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong joined students and staff at Mountain View High School in Meridian today to kick off the “Go On” Challenge for Idaho high schools.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation issued this unprecedented challenge to all Idaho high schools today to encourage schools to take critical steps that will lead more students to post-secondary education after high school.

Schools that participate in the “Go On” Challenge will have the chance to earn $100,000 by fulfilling the requirements of the following categories:
·    Increase the number of students taking the ACT, PLAN, PSAT and SAT
·    Increase the number of students who register for advanced opportunities such as AP, Dual Credit and Tech Prep
·    Increase the number of students who register for upper-level classes, especially in math and science

Mountain View High School became the first in Idaho to accept the challenge today.

The above three areas were selected for their proven effectiveness in helping to prepare, motivate and challenge students to Go On, and in helping students who have already entered college be less apt to drop out or need remediation.

A winner will be awarded in each category. After the 2010-11 school year, participating schools that demonstrated the most significant improvement (measured by percentage) over the 2009-2010 school year in a category will be awarded $100,000 to spend as they wish.  Schools will compete against schools with similar enrollment sizes.  All schools will compete for the most-improved overall award.

“We realize this is a tough economic time for all Idaho schools, which is why our foundation decided to get creative in our funding,” said Jamie MacMillan, the Foundation’s executive director. “And, we feel strongly that our high schools have to find innovative ways that continue to provide the best opportunities and resources for our students to help them to GO ON to a better life. It’s up to all of us – schools, parents, businesses, communities, and the state, to be part of the solution by being resourceful and innovative.”

Even if schools are unable to compete in the “Go On” Challenge because they do not currently offer AP, dual credit or tech prep courses, these schools still have a way to win. By just signing up to be a “Go On” School, a high school can compete to win a grand prize of $15,000, a second prize of $10,000 or $5,000 for honorable mention based on a different set of criteria.

School principals will receive a taped invitation to join in this unique effort.  This invitation is being delivered this week, along with detailed instructions on how to participate in the challenge. The invitation is also available online at www.go-on-idaho.org. The foundation encourages parents, students and anyone with a stake in post-secondary education to view the invitation and read more about the challenge. 

“There are so many opportunities waiting for students after they graduate from high school,” said Armstrong, who is delivering the challenge to schools across Idaho. “The question is: Are they ready to seize those opportunities? The big, important things in life rarely happen by accident — they require planning, dedication and the willingness to reach the next level.”

In addition, the Foundation is partnering with the Idaho Statesman to issue monthly “Go On” challenges for cash prizes starting on May 2, 2010. It is open to anyone throughout the state. To enter, log on to idahostatesman.com and upload your essay, photo or video. The contest topics will change every month and participants will have two ways to win — by popular vote or through a Statesman panel of judges.

Community partners, including the Boys and Girls Club, Treasure Valley YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters are committed to helping create greater awareness of the “Go On” Challenge.

Learn more about the Go On Challenge and how your school can participate at the Go On Idaho website.

~ Melissa M.

Department Awards 18 Schools with Grants for School Lunch Equipment

The Idaho State Department of Education has awarded nearly $120,000 in federal grant funding to help 18 Idaho schools purchase new school lunch equipment, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

“As we strive to provide healthier foods to our students during the school day, it is also important to ensure our school kitchens and cafeterias have safe, quality equipment,” Superintendent Luna said.

Idaho received $119,804 to help Idaho schools purchase new school lunch equipment for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grants were awarded through a competitive application process. Schools with 50 percent or more students on free and reduced-price lunch received the highest priority. A selection committee also looked at the level of need, the age and condition of the school's current equipment, and extenuating circumstances such as eliminating safety hazards or replacing deep fat fryers.

With the funding, the 18 awarded schools will purchase items, such as ovens, freezers, dishwashers, tables and mixers.

Here is the list of Idaho schools awarded grants for school lunch equipment:
  • Ucon Elementary School, Bonneville Joint School District, $4,999      
  • Lindy Ross Elementary School & Clark County Middle/High School, Clark County School District, $8,095
  • Culdesac School, Culdesac School District, $5,361.07      
  • Greenleaf Friends Academy, Greenleaf, 8,729.51      
  • Hansen High School, Hansen School District, $12,462.77      
  • Highland School, Highland School District, $3,800      
  • Harwood Elementary School, Jefferson Joint School District, $8,189.03      
  • Jefferson Elementary School, Jerome School District, $4,700      
  • Kamiah School, Kamiah School District, $3,337.38      
  • Juliaetta Elementary School, Kendrick Joint School District, $2,349      
  • Lapwai Middle/High School, Lapwai School District, $7,552      
  • West Elementary School, Mountain Home School District, $8,220      
  • Murtaugh Elementary/Middle/High School, Murtaugh School District, $2,715.60      
  • Westside Elementary School, Payette School District, $8,140      
  • Oakwood Elementary School, Preston School District, $10,000      
  • Driggs Elementary School, Teton School District, $5,731.14      
  • Vallivue Middle School, Vallivue School District, $10,000      
  • H.B. Lee Elementary/Middle School, Westside School District, $5,422.50   
~ Melissa M.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Youth Suicide Prevention Regional Roundtables Hosted Statewide

Teen suicide remains a critical issue across the state of Idaho.

That’s why the Idaho State Department of Education has partnered with the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho (SPAN) to present a series of upcoming roundtables to focus on local response plans for suicide crisis interventions and completed suicides.

Idaho consistently ranks among the states with the highest suicide rates. According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 14.2% of Idaho students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide, and 6.9% reported making at least one attempt last year.

Given the devastating impact of suicide on families, schools and communities, it is critical that stakeholders identify the most efficient and effective responses to suicide issues including prevention, intervention and postvention.

One suicide is too many for our state. We know suicide is preventable and that individuals considering suicide don’t want to die; they simply don’t have the resources and support to overcome the challenges they face.
A collaborative plan is our best hope of preventing and effectively responding to suicide.  Key school personnel, law enforcement, Health & Welfare representatives and community providers are invited to attend these roundtables to discuss the local dynamics in responding to suicide and to strengthen existing plans.

The regional roundtables in Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston have already taken place. Here’s the schedule for the remaining roundtables:

Pocatello: Tuesday, April 27, 2010
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pocatello City Council Chamber, 911 N. 7th Ave., Pocatello

Idaho Falls: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
9:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
EIRMC, Behavioral Health Center, Conference Room, 2280 East 25th Street, Idaho Falls

Caldwell: Friday, April 30, 2010
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
College of Idaho, Simplot Dining Hall, Hendren Room, 2112 Cleveland Blvd., Caldwell

Boise: Thursday, May 6, 2010
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Boise LDS Institute, Room 205/206, 1929 University Drive, Boise

Twin Falls: Friday, May 7, 2010
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Twin Falls County Courthouse, 3rd Floor, 425 Shoshone Street North, Twin Falls

Space is limited.  Please RSVP to SPAN Idaho at info@spanidaho.org or 208-860-1703.

~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Idaho to Present at International School Safety Summit

The Idaho State Department of Education has been invited to present at the International School Safety Convention because of its innovative approach to improving school safety.

When Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna took office in 2007, he committed to conducting a statewide assessment of the safety and security of all K-12 school facilities across Idaho. Based on these results, the state has identified weaknesses and worked to improve the safety and security in all school facilities.

“For our children to truly be free to learn, they must be free from fear, intimidation and violence,” Superintendent Luna said. “We don’t ever want to look back and wonder if we could have done more.”

Because of this innovative work, the International School Safety Convention asked staff from the Idaho State Department of Education to present at its annual conference. The goal of the convention is to share the latest resources that communities can use to improve school safety and security across the country and around the globe.

The Idaho State Department of Education conducted the Safe and Secure Schools Assessment in Fall 2007, with support from the Idaho Legislature and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.  Based on this assessment, the state recognized Idaho schools primarily needed technical assistance in creating and implementing effective crisis response plans. Therefore, the State Department of Education created a template crisis response plan for all schools to utilize based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) standard and then provided training to school administrators across Idaho.

Michael Dorn, Program Chair for the International School Safety Convention, said, “I am deeply impressed with the level of NIMS integration into Idaho's K-20 educational organization. That provides the strongest possible foundation for coordinating plans, people, systems, and equipment to handle major school crisis events.”

In addition, the state also created a list of school safety and security changes schools could implement at little or no cost to the district.

Idaho’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Coordinator Matt McCarter will travel to Denver to present at the International School Safety Convention on April 22-23 to share Idaho’s success story with other states.

Learn more about Idaho's efforts to improve school safety and security

~ Melissa M.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Superintendent Luna Joins Lt Governor Little to Recognize Outstanding Science Teachers

Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Angela Hemmingway, Chris Taylor, Jennifer Martin, Dennis Kimberling, Karlicia Berry, Edward Katz, Superintendent Tom Luna, Vern Porter

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna joined Lieutenant Governor Brad Little today to recognize four exceptional science teachers from across Idaho with the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in Science (GIANTS).

Each teacher will receive $2,000. The award recipients are:
• Angela Hemmingway of Kuna High School,
• Edward Katz of Bonners Ferry High School,
• Jennifer Martin of Homedale Middle School, and
• Karlicia Minto Berry of Ponderosa Elementary School in Post Falls.

Honorable Mention awards of $500 each were presented to two additional teachers: Dennis Kimberling of Lakeland Junior High School in Rathdrum and Chris Taylor of Liberty Elementary School in Boise.

The GIANTS program was initiated by the Office of the Governor and is sponsored by the Science and Technology Roundtable, a group of industry leaders including the Micron Foundation, Idaho National Laboratory, URS, Hewlett-Packard, LCF Enterprises, and Idaho Power Company.

With support from the Idaho State Department of Education and Office of the State Board of Education, as well as the Discovery Center of Idaho, GIANTS recognizes teachers for their efforts to link industry and the economic future of Idaho to the classroom through the enhancement of science and technology education.

“I find this particular award very important because it seeks to identify Idaho teachers who create opportunities for students to experience the excitement and fun of science,” Luna said. “And it has a real-world, hands-on connection.”

All the participating teachers were nominated by the student council and/or parent groups at their school for making science exciting, challenging, and relevant. A cash prize of $500 goes to each school/student council that nominated the GIANTS award recipients, with a cash prize of $100 going to each school/student council that nominated the Honorable Mention award recipients.

The GIANTS partners are firmly committed to the advancement of science and technology education and consider it vital to Idaho’s economic future. The Governor and the industry partners congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their significant contributions to education.

“Angela, Edward, Jennifer and Karlicia serve as a model of how educators can work with industry to enhance science and technology education,” Governor Otter said in a statement prepared for the award ceremony in his Capitol office. “Teachers have a tremendous responsibility to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce. More than ever, we need teachers who can inspire students to lives spent in discovery, learning and achievement. Those teachers who excel deserve our support and recognition.”

Here is a brief summary of each of the award recipients:
Elementary School GIANTS Awardee:
The 2010 elementary school winner is Karlicia Berry, who teaches at Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls, Idaho. Karlicia holds BS from Gonzaga University and a Masters degree in Education from Lesley University.

Karlicia Berry is an active leader in the North Idaho Discovery Association, which promotes technology education throughout northern Idaho. She is also responsible for bringing the Idaho Technology Mars Rover Challenge and the First Lego League robotics curriculum to Post Falls School District.

John and Sharon Keating, whose son is one of Mrs. Berry’s students, said, “When it comes to interacting with students, Mrs. Berry is amazing. She instills confidence and works with the students to solidify their own thoughts and ideas.”

Middle School GIANTS Awardee:
The GIANTS Middle School winner is Jennifer Martin of Homedale Middle School. Jennifer holds a BS from Western Washington University and a Masters from George Fox University.

Ms. Martin has served as a coach for the Future City Engineers contest, as well as the Robotics and Science Olympiad competitions. She is a member of both the National Science Teachers Association and the Idaho Environmental Education Association.

In her first year of teaching, Jennifer wrote a QWEST grant and received nearly $10,000 for Homedale Middle School to purchase GPS hand held units and GIS software, which allows students to develop geographic and scientific inquiry skills.

In their letter of nomination, the Homedale Student Council declared, “She is an awesome teacher and has made many opportunities available to all of us… Mrs. Martin rocks.”
Lt. Gov. Little and Superintendent Luna look on as Tell Hyer, Homedale Student Body President, gives remarks about Jennifer Martin.

High School GIANTS Awardees:

The GIANTS High School Awardees are Angela Hemmingway of Kuna High School and Edward Katz of Bonners Ferry High School.

Angela Hemmingway teaches Biology at Kuna High School. She holds a BS and a Masters in Biology from Boise State University. Her professional memberships include the National Science Teachers Association, as well as the Idaho Science Teachers Association, where she current serves as President and Executive Board Member.

Ms. Hemingway has dedicated countless hours serving as an Academic Coach for Science Olympiad, Boise State University’s Science Day, Idaho National Lab Scholastic Tournament and FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Competition. As a result student participation has risen sharply, with the Science Club of Kuna boasting nearly 100 student members.

Edward Katz teaches Physics, Chemistry and Physical Science at Bonners Ferry High School. He holds a BS in Biology and Secondary Education from York College City University as well as a BS in Special Education from Lewis-Clark State College.

As the developer and coach of the school’s FIRST Robotics Team, Mr. Katz has helped his team grow and improve each year, recently placing first in the 2010 Robotics Competition for the Northwest Pacific Region. He also began a ZERO Robotics Team that travelled to MIT to compete with other schools in connection with the NASA Space Station.

Mr. Katz encourages students to see science in the real world by participating in educational field trips and inviting mentors to speak in the classroom. He has also partnered with more than twenty companies to provide financial support for the FIRST Robotics competition.
~Melissa M.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Superintendent Luna Stops by Anser Charter School for an Interview with Students

Superintendent Luna was interviewed by Anser Charter School students today about the right to a quality education.

The students are learning about Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a quality education.  They asked Superintendent Luna about his efforts to promote and protect the right to a quality education in preparation for a Youth Human Rights Celebration they are planning on May 22nd at Anne Frank Memorial.

Here are the highlights of the interview:

Question: Do you think that budget cuts to education will make it more difficult for all students to have access to quality educational experiences?
Answer: We cannot sugar coat this. If these cuts are done wrong they will have an effect on student achievement.

Question: How does Idaho compare to other states when it comes to education?
Answer: Idaho’s math scores, as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, are some of the highest in the nation.  Only eight states rank above us.  Idaho also led the nation two years in a row in the increase in the number of school making adequate yearly progress (AYP), the high academic goal set for Idaho schools as required by No Child Left Behind. However, we must begin measuring our students against students all over the world because the reality is that our students will have to compete globally, nor just nationally, for jobs.

Question: What can we do to protect and promote the right to a quality education?
Answer: 1) Show up to school every day.  2) Do your best. 3) Make your school the best it can be.

Question: At what age should students start standing up for their rights?
Answer: With rights come responsibilities.  At what age does responsibility begin?  When it comes to things like bullying and violence in schools, students should stick up for each others’ rights and say something.  That is the biggest deterrent to bullying.

-Camille W.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Response-to-Intervention Conference

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Today kicked off the first statewide Response-to-Intervention (RTI) Conference.  Six hundred teachers, principals, support personnel and district administrators joined national, regional and state experts to learn about implementing RTI.

RTI is a framework for continuous improvement that provides high-quality, standard-based instruction and research-based systematic interventions for all student needs -- academic, social-emotional, and behavioral -- using learning rate over time and level of performance to make important educational decisions.  In his opening remarks this morning at the conference, Superintendent Luna said of RTI, “At its core, it is a systematic, research-based way for teachers, administrators, schools, districts and the state to catch students before they fall behind.”

Last year, the State Department of Education created the Response-to-Intervention Expansion and Enhancement Grants – dedicated funding to help schools implement and expand the RTI model.   In 2009, $48,000 in grant funding to six schools and districts was awarded.  This year, another six schools and districts will be awarded. 

The conference runs through tomorrow and includes presentations and hands-on workshops, sessions for beginning through advanced practitioners, and vendor exhibits and presentations.

For more information on RTI, visit the State Department of Education’s RTI webpage.

-Camille W.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Florida Legislature Passes Landmark Merit Pay Plan

The Florida Legislature just approved a sweeping teacher merit pay plan, which would tie pay directly to student achievement. If enacted, it would be the first-of-its-kind in the nation.

Currently, Florida teachers are paid based on how many years they teach and how much education they earn.  Under the new plan, teachers' pay would be tied to student performance and student learning gains on standardized tests.

In addition, the legislation would eliminate tenure for Florida’s teachers. Currently, teachers earn tenure (or continuing contracts) after three years of teaching. If the new bill is signed into law, Florida teachers would begin working under one-year contracts in July.

In Idaho, teachers are also paid based on experience and education. After three years, they sign a continuing contract.

In 2008, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna presented a pay-for-performance plan to help recognize and reward classroom teachers by offering bonuses for improving student achievement based on schoolwide results, working in hard-to-fill positions determined at the local level, or taking on leadership duties within their school or district. Unlike the Florida plan, it would have built upon the current pay system, instead of changing the pay system completely. The plan did not pass by one vote in the Idaho Senate.

In Florida, the legislation passed the House at 2:26 a.m. today after hours of debate. It now heads to Florida Governor Charlie Crist for his signature.

Read the full story from The Orlando Sentinel. 

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tax Time is an "Opportunity" to Help Idaho Students

The looming deadline of April 15th for 2009 Idaho State Tax returns provides a real opportunity for Idaho students and citizens.

The Office of the Idaho State Board of Education reminds all Idahoans who have yet to file their 2009 Idaho State Tax Return that they can help hundreds of Gem State students in their pursuit of post-secondary education.

“The Opportunity Scholarship helps those who really are most in need,” said Student Affairs Program Manager Dana Kelly. “With a simple check of a box on your state return you are helping students who indeed need that help, that opportunity that only education can provide.”

The Idaho Legislature passed H0615 which provides a mechanism through which Idahoans can direct a portion of their state tax refund to the Opportunity Scholarship. Established in 2007, the Opportunity Scholarship provides a much needed financial bridge for students who have little to no means to pay for their higher education. Since its inception, the Opportunity Scholarship has served hundreds of Idaho students.

Record enrollment growth at many Idaho institutions of public education is creating a scenario where the demand for need-based aid is at an all time peak. You can help by simply directing a portion of your tax refund to the Opportunity Scholarship fund on your 2009 Idaho Tax Return.

Learn more about the Opportunity Scholarship.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Department Awards Eight Afterschool Programs with $1.63M to Boost Student Achievement

The State Department of Education has awarded $1.63 million in grants to eight afterschool programs across Idaho to help boost academic support, cultural enrichment and community involvement, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

The Department awards funds through the federal Title IV-B, known as 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). The goals of 21st CCLC are to provide academic enrichment to reduce achievement gaps, offer recreation and physical activity as well as social and cultural enrichment afterschool, and to give the families of students in afterschool programs more opportunities for literacy and educational development.  Idaho’s program seeks to reduce and eliminate achievement gaps.

“Afterschool programs, like the ones funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, provide great opportunities for Idaho educators, parents and community partners to work together to raise student achievement,” said Superintendent Luna. “I am excited to see how our new grantees will use this funding to improve the lives of students in their communities.”

Structured, high-quality afterschool programs are a key component to preventing gang activity, drug use and delinquent behavior. Idaho 21st CCLC afterschool programs have demonstrated tremendous success in cultivating academic success among low-performing students.

The competitive grant awards for the 2010-2011 school year ranged from $132,950 to $279,490 and are renewable for up to five years.  Awards are determined by a statewide review community and based on school and community needs, as well as the overall merit of the program proposed.

A total of $1.63 million was awarded to the following sites across Idaho:
  • Blackfoot School District – The Learning Center: $238,430
  • Coeur d’Alene School District – CDA4Kids: $256,350
  • Kendrick Joint School District: $132, 950
  • Marsing School District – Academies: $136,730
  • Payette School District: $279,490
  • Pocatello/Chubbuck School District: $179,750
  • Weiser School District – Weiser BEST: $200,440
  • West Side School District: $209,350
Learn more about the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program.

~ Melissa M.

Eagle High, Saint Al’s Host Clean Cabinets, Clean Minds

Students at Eagle High School have partnered with Saint Alphonsus to help prevent prescription drug abuse by keeping prescription drugs out of students’ hands.

The Clean Cabinets, Clean Minds program was created to properly dispose of expired and/or unused over-the-counter and prescription medication of all types: pills, liquids, etc. Proper disposal of these medicines is beneficial to the environment and also ensures the medication doesn’t fall into the hands of Idaho students, according to Eagle High’s web site.

The project is being supported in part by the State Department of Education’s Coordinated School Health program. 

Eagle High was one of 10 schools to receive a $5,000 Coordinated School Health grant last year.

These grants give Idaho schools the resources and training they need to implement the Coordinated School Health model, which encourages schools to establish a school health team that works together to support and promote health with an emphasis on physical activity, nutrition and tobacco prevention.

The State Department of Education established a statewide Coordinated School Health team in 2008 with a federal grant. The team is made up of representatives from the Health Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Child Nutrition, Health and Welfare, and Physical Activity programs.

Here are all the organizations helping out with the Clean Cabinets, Clean Minds project: Eagle High School, Boise State Nursing Department, Eagle Home Depot, Ada County Sheriffs Office, Central District Health Department Community Health Division, Idaho State Department of Education, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Albertsons in Eagle, Joint School District #2, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

How can you help? Eagle High students are asking the community to bring any expired and/or unused medication to the Saint Alphonsus Eagle Health Plaza on Saturday, April 10 between 9 a.m. and noon so it can be disposed of properly. No ID is required to drop off either over-the-counter or prescription medication.

Learn more about Clean Cabinets, Clean Minds.

~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Superintendent Luna Announces Plan to Move toward Next Generation of Assessments

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today the state will not administer the Direct Writing Assessment (DWA) and Direct Math Assessment (DMA) in the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Luna will take a proposal to the Idaho State Board of Education in June to make the discontinuation of these assessments permanent.

“As we move toward the next generation of assessments, we have to look at the value of the assessments we currently have,” Superintendent Luna said. “The Direct Writing and Direct Math Assessments have served their purpose. Now, to continue moving student achievement forward in the future, we must focus on improved assessment tools.”

As part of Common Core Standards Initiative, the State Department of Education is working with 30 other states across the nation to evaluate our current assessment tools and work on developing the next generation of assessments that will be aligned to common core standards in math and reading and better assist classroom teachers in improving student achievement. The Common Core Standards are still subject to approval by the State Board and Legislature.

The DMA and DWA are annual assessments that have been administered each fall for more than 15 years. The assessments require Idaho students to demonstrate their knowledge of standards through tasks. Students in fifth, seventh and ninth grades take the DWA. Students in fourth, sixth and eighth grades take the DMA.

In previous years, the assessments have been used to help classroom teachers identify areas in which students are struggling in writing and math immediately so they can give students the assistance they need. The scores are not part of No Child Left Behind or the calculation of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

The State Department of Education will still make assessment prompts for the DWA and DMA available each year to those local school districts and public charter schools that choose to continue using the DWA and DMA to guide instruction.

In total, the DWA and DMA cost an estimated $250,000 a year to administer and score statewide. 

The most recent results of the DMA and DWA show Idaho students are continuing to improve in math and writing.

On the DMA, results show Idaho students are performing better across all three grades. In fourth grade, for example, 64 percent of students are performing at or above grade level, compared to 56 percent the previous school year.
On the DWA, Idaho’s ninth grade students performed better in writing than the previous year with 81 percent of students scoring at or above grade level, compared to 73 percent the previous year.

Please visit the State Department of Education’s web site to review results for the DMA and DWA in your school or district.

~ Melissa M.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Qwest Foundation Grant Supports Backpack Program to Feed Homeless Students in Nampa

A $30,000 grant from the Qwest Foundation to the Idaho State Department of Education and The Idaho Foodbank is helping to provide weekend meals for 170 homeless students in the Nampa School District.

The number of children and youth identified as homeless in the Nampa area increased from 149 in 2008-2009 to more than 500 in the first quarter of the 2009-1010 school year. The State Department of Education recommended that the Qwest grant be used to provide weekend meals for chronically hungry students through The Idaho Foodbank’s Backpack Program. This statewide emergency food program provides 1,780 backpacks per week filled with nutritious food for elementary school students who are not getting enough to eat on the weekends. 

“We're honored to support The Idaho Foodbank and the critical work they do supporting those in our community who are in need,” said Qwest Idaho President Jim Schmit. “Supporting education is a top goal of Qwest in Idaho, but a crucial first step for helping kids learn is to make sure they have access to adequate nutrition and don't come to school hungry.”

The Qwest Foundation’s core principle is that investing in education provides lasting value for the future. The Qwest Foundation awards grant to community-based programs that generate high-impact and measurable results, focusing on pre-K through 12 education.

“This generous gift comes at an especially important time,” said Karen Vauk, The Idaho Foodbank’s President and CEO. “As more children depend on free school meals, more will need food assistance over the weekends when those meals aren’t available. The Qwest Foundation’s support of the Backpack program is crucial to our ability to supply the nutrition children need so they can come back to school on Monday ready to learn. We are grateful to the Foundation for its willingness to support our efforts to end hunger in Idaho.”

The State Department of Education works to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Through the federal McKinney-Vento grant program, the Department ensures homeless students have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as other children. Each local school district is required to have a liaison who works with homeless students.

~ Melissa M.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Native American Awareness Week Starts April 5

Boise State University’s Native American Awareness Week begins next week with several events, including an outreach event planned for students and educators.

Hosted by the BSU Intertribal Native Council, these events will each be opportunities for students and the community to learn more about Native American history in Idaho.

The week-long schedule also includes a film viewing, education summit, frybread forum, art gala, and silent auction. On Friday, April 9, a Native Youth Outreach and Recruitment event will offer mentoring and networking for Native high school students.

Since taking office, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has worked to improve the educational opportunities for Native American students in Idaho and close the achievement gap. In 2007, he created the full-time Indian Education Coordinator position at the State Department of Education to help raise student achievement among Native American students and serve as a liaison between the Department and Native American tribal leaders.

Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak currently serves as Idaho’s Indian Education Coordinator.  She is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe and graduate of Lewis-Clark State College. Learn more about the Department’s work with Native American students.

All events during Native American Awareness Week are open to the public. Check out Boise State’s web site for a full list of events.

~ Camille W.