Friday, July 29, 2011


The State Board of Education today agreed to keep Idaho’s current proficiency targets in place for the next year, allowing the state to move toward a new accountability model based on academic growth.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna proposed this move in June by sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The U.S. Department of Education agreed to Idaho’s request this week.

In a special State Board meeting on Friday afternoon, the members of the State Board voted to give the move final approval.

“Through the Students Come First laws, Idaho is moving to a growth model that better measures academic success, putting us beyond the outdated No Child Left Behind law. With our limited resources, we can no longer financially afford to reconcile this new innovative path with an outdated federal accountability system,” Superintendent Luna said. “I am pleased both the State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education have recognized our need to move forward and create a next-generation accountability system that best meets the needs of our students.”

Now, Idaho’s proficiency targets will remain at 85.6 percent in reading and 83 percent in mathematics – the same as last year – which are still some of the highest in the nation. The proficiency target is the percentage of students in an entire school and students in a subgroup that must pass the ISAT in order for the school to meet AYP under No Child Left Behind.

Under No Child Left Behind, states are required to hold schools accountable for academic achievement by measuring proficiency, or how many students in a school and each student subgroup within a school, passed the statewide standardized test. The current model of accountability is completely based on proficiency because that is what was available in 2001 when No Child Left Behind became law.

Today, however, Idaho has the ability to measure academic growth, not necessarily how many students passed the test but how much growth did they show in a school year. A growth model is more accurate and can better identify which schools are successful and which are truly in need of improvement.

States had hoped the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind would allow for a growth model by now, but the reauthorization is now four years overdue. Therefore, Idaho will keep its current proficiency targets in place and begin implementing a new model of accountability so we can direct the state’s limited resources to those schools that are truly struggling academically.

The State of Idaho is one of 41 states that recently signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Roadmap on Next-Generation State Accountability Systems, which includes moving toward a growth model of accountability.

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