Thursday, April 26, 2012


More than 500 high school students from across Idaho descended on Taco Bell Arena this week to prove their knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm for global economics.

Busy day at the International Economic Summit at Taco Bell Arena on Tuesday, where 500 high school students from across Idaho got hands-on lessons in global economics.

It’s all part of the International Economic Summit, a one-day simulation of the global economy and what happens when countries compete for scarce resources, form strategic alliances, debate global issues, invest in long-term development projects, interact with global economic institutions, and seek to stabilize and advance the global economy. At the Summit, students break up into teams, representing more than 100 nations of today's complex world.

The Summit is an effective learning experience for high school and university students on globalization, international relations and economics, and is now being replicated in other states and countries.

Leon Maynard, president of the Idaho Council on Economic Education, said, “We are building a new generation of global students, citizens & entrepreneurs who have the knowledge, skills & passion to cooperate, compete & prosper in the world’s highly competitive economy. This is essential to our long term economic growth, prosperity and freedom.”

After a full semester of studying, researching and preparing their economic strategies, high school teams from Capital, Borah, Skyview, Nampa, Bishop Kelly, North Star Charter and Cambridge high schools met at Taco Bell Arena for the final one-day competition of their economic studies project.

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna helped celebrate the event yesterday by speaking with students and handing out awards to the top teams.

“The hands-on lessons students learned today at the International Economic Summit will be invaluable going forward in their lives,” Superintendent Luna said. “When our students graduate from high school, we know they will not just be competing with students in other states but with students all across the world. That is why we passed Students Come First and took the necessary steps to ensure all students – no matter where they live – are prepared to graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education with the skills they need to compete and be successful in the 21st Century.”

Superintendent Luna congratulated six students from Bishop Kelly High School and their teacher Marta Watson for taking home top honors at the International Economic Summit on Tuesday.

At the end of the day, it was Team Morocco from Bishop Kelly High School that proved not only that they understood the concepts of international relations, business and economics but could apply them to help solve real world economic issues. Team members included Benito Skinner, Morgan Wissel, Ariana Tobe, Blaze Gamboa, Mark Nicola and Taylor Judy. Their economics instructor, Marta Watson, has led student teams at economic competitions for more than 10 years.

Superintendent Luna congratulated all the teams participating today and also congratulated Leon Maynard and the International Economic Summit staff at the Idaho Council on Economic Education for developing this hands-on learning project, which is available to all high schools throughout Idaho and which has also been marketed to other universities and high schools in Massachusetts, Mississippi, California, Nevada and even China.

“I am so impressed with what students are learning here today at the Economic Summit,” Superintendent Luna said. “Not only are they learning about economics, but students learn lessons in geography, history, leadership, public speaking and teamwork. It is a great learning experience for the future.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Nearly 17,000 public school juniors across Idaho today took part in the first-ever Idaho SAT School Day. Idaho SAT School Day was created as the result of a 2007 Idaho state law instituting new graduation requirements to ensure more students graduate from high school prepared to go on to postsecondary education or the workforce. One of the law’s requirements is that all Idaho students, beginning with the high school class of 2013, complete a college entrance exam before the end of their junior year. Through the passage of Students Come First during the 2011 Idaho legislative session, lawmakers appropriated $963,500 for schools to offer the SAT, during regular school hours, to the class of 2013 at no cost to the students or their families.

“Idaho has now joined other states in creating SAT School Day, a critical piece of Students Come First that will help every district and public charter school ensure students not only graduate from high school but are prepared to go on to postsecondary education after high school,” said Tom Luna, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The SAT is already administered to all public school students in the states of Maine and Delaware, as well as in school districts throughout Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas.

“Ensuring that as many high school students as possible have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in college is more important now than at any point in our nation’s history,” said College Board Vice President James Montoya, a former dean of admission. “College is a major family financial investment, and doing well on the SAT is one way to maximize that life-time investment. When used in combination with high school grades, the SAT is the most valid predictor of first-year college success.”

As part of Idaho School Day, every SAT registration includes up to four free score reports that can be sent to colleges and scholarship services. Registering for the SAT also enables students to participate in the College Board’s Student Search Service®, through which students can let colleges, universities and scholarship programs know they are interested in hearing from them. Students participating in the Student Search Service also have the opportunity to receive educational and financial aid information from colleges, universities and scholarship programs.

The SAT is the oldest and most widely used college entrance exam in the nation. Divided into three subsections, the SAT tests the reading, mathematics and writing skills students learn in their high school coursework. More than two million students take the SAT each year, and SAT scores are used in the admission process at nearly all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University, Brigham Young University, Utah State University, the University of Washington and Washington State University are among the many Idaho-area institutions that accept SAT scores for admission purposes.

The SAT®

Created by educators to democratize access to higher education, the SAT® is a highly reliable standardized measure of college readiness used in the admission process at nearly all four-year, not-for-profit undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Aligned to high school curricula, the SAT tests the reading, mathematics and writing skills and knowledge students acquire during high school. The SAT also measures how well students can apply their knowledge, a factor that educators and researchers agree is critical to success in college. The SAT is consistently shown to be a fair and valid predictor of college success for all students. Studies regularly demonstrate that the best predictor of college success is the combination of SAT scores and high school grades. In addition to admission, colleges often use the SAT for course placement and scholarships. During the 2010-11 school year, the SAT was administered to more than two million students worldwide. For further information, visit

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,900 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Idaho's Dual Credit for Early Completers and 8-in-6 Programs

One of the lesser-known but critical parts of Students Come First is the Dual Credit for Early Completers Program. High school students now have the opportunity to complete their state high school graduation requirements early and take up to 36 dual credit courses free of charge—essentially earning up to two years of college credit before ever leaving high school!

This is an exciting and unprecedented opportunity for every Idaho student. The Dual Credit for Early Completers Program started last year. This year, the Legislature also approved what is known as the “8 in 6 Program” to help students finish their state graduation requirements early, if they choose. Here is more about each of these programs, how they complement each other, and how your children can participate!

Dual Credit for Early Completers (Idaho Code 33-1626) started in 2011 as part of Students Come First (SCF) and is a critical way in which the state is helping to motivate more students in high school and prepare them for postsecondary education. The Dual Credit for Early Completers program aims to ease the financial burden placed on families when their students go on to postsecondary education, whether it is college or professional-technical school.

Idaho has had dual credit opportunities for some time, but not every student has been able to access or afford these opportunities. Now, under the Dual Credit for Early Completers program, Idaho high school seniors who complete all their state-required high school graduation requirements early (excluding the senior project and the senior math requirement) are now eligible to take up to 36 college or professional-technical credits of dual credit courses during their senior year—all paid for by the state.

Students can take these courses while staying in the high school setting. The state will pay up to $75 per credit hour for these dual credit classes. Idaho’s colleges and universities currently charge this cost for dual credit courses. Students who choose to take dual credits from another institution of higher education can use this money to help defray costs. Students can access dual credit courses no matter where they live via the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, the Idaho Education Network, or from teachers within their own school.

The 8-in-6 program (Idaho Code 33-1628) was approved by the Idaho Legislature this year to help Idaho students take advantage of the dual credit opportunities provided by the Dual Credit for Early Completers.

The 8-in-6 program is so-named because it is designed to help students complete 8 years of schoolwork (2 years of middle school, 4 years of high school, and 2 years of postsecondary or trade school) in just 6 years. Students accomplish this by taking courses over the summer and by taking overload courses during the school year. It is important to note that 8-in-6 does not reduce the amount of time students spend in the classroom; it simply increases learning to throughout the year.

Students who participate in the 8-in-6 program can more easily finish their state graduation requirements early, allowing them to take full advantage of the Dual Credit for Early Completers program and complete up to an associate’s degree before they finish high school—all paid for by the state.

The 8-in-6 program does not pay for dual credits but does help students take overload courses so they can finish their high school graduation requirements early, positioning them to participate in the Dual Credit for Early Completers program, which will cover the costs of up to 36 dual credits.

Through the 8-in-6 program, the state provides funding for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) to offer online summer and overload courses to program participants for a subsidized cost of $75 per credit. Program participants may take up to two overload credits per school year and two online credits per summer (for a total of four per year) at this subsidized rate.  The program is limited to 10% of students in each district, and it maintains high academic accountability standards for continued participation.

If you or your child is interested in participating in either the Dual Credit for Early Completers program or the 8-in-6 program, please be sure to contact your school counselor or building principal to learn more. More information also is available online at

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First Lady, Governor Honor Stem Teachers with GIANTS Award

From Left: Award Winners Elizabeth Brubaker, Jason George, Dick Jordan; First Lady Lori Otter; Honorable Mentions Mike Stansel, Tauna Johnson, and Paul Shaber. 
First Lady Lori Otter today recognized the exceptional efforts of three Idaho Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers by presenting them with the 2012 GIANTS Award at a ceremony held in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office.
Timberline High School (Boise) teacher Dick Jordan; Jason George of Vision Charter School (Caldwell); and Lakeland School District’s (Rathdrum) Elementary Gifted and Talented teacher Elizabeth Brubaker were awarded $2,000 each as recipients of the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in STEM (GIANTS).

“Dick, Jason, and Elizabeth serve as a model of how educators can work with industry to enhance science and technology education.” Governor Otter said. “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.”

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 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.

Honorable Mention awards of $500 each were presented to three additional teachers: Paul Shaber of Fruitland High School, Mike Stansel of Rocky Mountain Middle School (Idaho Falls), and Tauna Johnson from Genesee Elementary School.

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, First Lady and industry partners congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their significant contributions to education.

Elementary School GIANTS Awardee:

The 2012 elementary school winner is Elizabeth Brubaker who teaches Lakeland School District’s Elementary Gifted and Talented classes. Elizabeth has a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut and was recognized as IBM and Classroom Magazine’s Computer Teacher of the Year for Idaho in 1990.

Elizabeth is passionate about encouraging kids to be inventive and creative and was instrumental in the creation of the Invent Idaho program as well as the co-author of the book Inventing for Kids.

Elizabeth engages her students in FIRST Lego League, Mars Rover competition and other hands-on learning through science and research experiments. She also engages with area companies and subject matter experts to bring industry into the classroom.

Middle School GIANTS Awardee:

The GIANTS Middle School Teacher is Jason George of Vision Charter School in Caldwell. As a teacher and mentor, Jason has developed the entire school’s science curriculum. He also developed an innovation science mentoring program for school’s elementary teachers and has given numerous staff developments, teaching both methods and best practices for effective science instruction, K-12.

He leads groups of students through a variety of science competitions and challenges including Future Cities, Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, and the QuikScience Challenge through the Wrigley Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California, winning honors in each. Jason also coordinates a school-wide science night each year as a culminating activity for students to show their mastery of the scientific method. By using guest speakers and connecting his students with the community, they are able to see real-world application.

Jason has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology Education as well as a minor in biology from Northwest Nazarene University; he is also working towards his master’s degree in science education at Montana State University.

High School GIANTS Awardee:

The GIANTS High School Awardee is Dick Jordan. He serves in many roles at Timberline High School in Boise, teaching biology, environmental science, modified biology, physical science, AP biology, and AP environmental science. He was recently honored as the Idaho Science Teacher Association’s Teacher of the year and was a state finalist in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science.

Dick is the advisor/founder of TREE (Teens Reconnecting to Earth Experiences), Timberline’s outdoor/ecology club, as well as the DaVinci Club, Timberline’s Math/Science/Mythbuster/Chess club. Within the classroom setting, he designs programs and projects with DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) and the National Park Service to help students get outdoors while learning and caring for the environment. Some examples include launching and involving the community, high school students, and elementary school students.

He holds bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish from Idaho State University, master’s coursework in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M, and a master’s of education degree in Education, with a focus on integrating technology in the classroom, from Walden University.