Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Find a Summer Food Program Site Near You

Free meals are available to all children age 1-18 through the Idaho Summer Food Program!  Find a site near you, your family and your friends.

The Summer Food Program is a federally funded program operated by sponsors who combine a feeding program with a summer activity. During the school year, many Idaho children rely on the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs for meals, but those programs end when school ends for the summer. Children in your community do not need to go hungry this summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program helps fill this hunger gap.

Through Idaho's Summer Food Program, sponsors serve more than 1,000,000 meals to children in need during the summer months. Idaho's children, families and communities benefit from sponsor’s commitment to feed children nutritious meals. Thanks to our sponsor's dedication, more of Idaho's children had access to meals when school was out for the summer!

Find a site near you on our website, where you can search using your zip code or address, or just search the interactive map!  The Summer Food Program is where children find food, fun and friends. Food that’s in when school is out.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Race to the Top Grants for Districts

The U.S. Department of Education announced today the opportunity for local school districts to apply for federal Race to the Top grants.

In 2010, states had the opportunity to apply for these federal grants to encourage reform efforts in states across the nation. Idaho applied in the first round, but chose not to apply in the second round. Idaho accomplished most of what it applied for in its Race to the Top application by passing the Students Come First reform laws in 2011 – without the one-time funding or oversight from the federal government.

Now, local school districts have the opportunity to apply for Race to the Top grants on their own or to partner with other school districts to apply for these grants.

The U.S. Department of Education today released a draft executive summary of the application process and is requesting feedback from local school districts and other educational stakeholders. It plans to obligate this grant funding before December 31, 2012.

Many of the requirements outlined in the Race to the Top – District Program are aligned with Students Come First, including higher academic standards, incentives for teachers and principals, evaluations tied to student performance, more technology and data in the classroom, and increased transparency at the district level.

Here is an overview of the Race to the Top – District Program:
  • Local Education Agencies (LEAs) – local school districts or charter schools authorized by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission – are eligible to apply for grants on their own or as part of a consortium of LEAs. LEAs can join with LEAs in other states to apply.
  • An LEA (or consortia) must serve at least 2,500 students a year to apply. If not, it must join with other LEAs to apply. At least 40% of the students the LEA plans to serve through the grant must qualify as low-income.
  • The LEA (or consortia) can apply on behalf of all schools in the district, or can apply on behalf of just some schools, some grade levels, some subject areas, some student groups, etc.
  • The LEA (or consortia) must demonstrate it will meet the following core education assurance areas:
    1. Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
    2. Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
    3. Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
    4. Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
  • The LEA (or consortia) must have a plan to implement teacher, principal, superintendent, and school board evaluation systems that meet the U.S. Department of Education’s definitions. All must be tied to student achievement or performance.
  • The LEA (or consortia) must get signatures from the superintendent, school board, and union president.
  • The State Department of Education must have the opportunity to review and comment on an LEA’s (or consortia’s) application before it is submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • An LEA (or consortia) serving up to 5,000 students may apply for up to $20 million. Districts serving up to 9,999 students may apply for up to $22 million. Districts serving more than 10,000 students may apply for up to $25 million.
Read more about the Race to the Top – District Program and provide your feedback.

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


CenturyLink, Inc. announced today the grant winners from its Middle School Philanthropy program chosen by students at Sawtooth Middle School in Meridian. 

Student Council members, under the direction of advisor Jim Core, researched nonprofit organizations in the Treasure Valley area and chose the St. Luke’s Cares Program, the Women and Children’s Alliance and Big Brother, Big Sister of Southwest Idaho to share the $3,000 grant. The grant was awarded at 2 p.m. today at Sawtooth Middle School.

“CenturyLink is dedicated to enhancing the communities we serve in a meaningful way,” said Jim Schmit, vice president and general manager for CenturyLink in Idaho. “This program is a unique opportunity to enable students to connect with their community in a way that will raise awareness of needs and hopefully plant a seed with them for a lifelong interest in giving back.”

Sawtooth Middle School was one of eight middle schools in Idaho who participated in the program to determine how to each distribute $3,000 among nonprofit organizations impacting their particular community. A total of $24,000 will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations across the state through this program.

The program’s purpose is to increase awareness among middle school students of various needs in their communities. In addition, the program aims to create a lifelong interest in volunteerism and community involvement, develop skills to allocate limited resources and increase civic engagement.

“With the generous donation from CenturyLink, the Sawtooth Middle School student leaders were given the great opportunity to make a real difference in their community,” said advisor Jim Core who oversaw the project.  “After researching the numerous non-profit groups in Meridian, the students, after much debate, agreed on these three.  The best thing is that all of the groups work directly with children in our school and community.  This was something all of the students thought was most important.  Thank you to the forward thinkers at CenturyLink for allowing these students, and all the students here at SMS, to see that giving to those in need is indeed a life-long responsibility.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Throughout this school year, we have heard positive stories from across Idaho of how Students Come First is aiding Idaho’s teachers and helping change our schools into more innovative and flexible places for staff and students, especially through technology.

As part of Students Come First, the state distributed $9 million this year to help Idaho schools integrate advanced technology and other 21st century tools in classrooms across all grades. This funding will be ongoing next year and in future years. Each district had to submit a plan to the state on how they would use this funding to raise student achievement.

The state also is funding $3 million a year in ongoing funding for professional development for teachers to help integrate this technology into the curriculum.

All this funding is in addition to the rollout of the one-to-one laptop devices that will begin this fall with high school teachers and principals and continue next year with the deployment to students in the first one-third of high schools across the state. 

Just this week, we received the following e-mail from Cindy Orr, the superintendent of the Highland School District. She describes the positive impact this new technology is having in Highland, a small, rural district about an outside of Lewiston.

Dear Superintendent Luna,

I wanted to share with you the success we are all ready having with our iPad project. Three weeks ago, we handed out our iPads to every certified and paraprofessional in our district. They were to spend the next five months (last two months of school and summer) learning about the iPad. I told them I expected the teachers to take them to every staff meeting and inservice. They are to take them home and use them. Take pictures and videos with them. Read a summer novel. Surf the net. Use it however you want with the expectation to share what you have learned.

On April 23, the staff members took them to their first inservice. It was an inservice that was mainly a review of knowledge. The teachers were using them by trying to learn how to use them in this setting. They checked email, worked on their calendar, etc. However, on Friday, April 27, at the CCSS/MTI conference, the teachers used it as a tool. When the presenter used a term he or she did not understand, the teacher looked it up. When the presenter talked about a website, the teachers checked it out. When they were to solve a problem, they used the tools on the iPad to solve the math problem. I stopped them and said, "this is how your students will use these tools." Lightbulbs went off! Now, I rarely see a staff member without his or her iPad.

One week later, I was walking down the hall and two paras were sharing the latest apps they downloaded for a kindergartener. Another was on the floor with a student using the iPad to practice the alphabet. Teachers are asking for more staff meetings to learn from one another.

I have been in education for over 20 years. I have never seen an initiative create such a positive and exciting atmosphere. It has been a huge morale booster. I figured a couple would sit in the box and others would never see the students. I observed a teacher using the iPad as part of her lesson, and she only had one. She said, "I cannot wait until we get a class set!"

We were excited to receive the Professional Development Grant to continue this initiative. I am currently seeking other grants so that we can speed up the process.

We are not the most innovative or techie, but we actually feel like we are leading our region for the first time. It is very exciting!

Thank you for supporting our program. I thought you might like to hear how things are going.

Have a great Tuesday!

Cindy Orr, Superintendent/Elementary Principal
Highland School District #305

Friday, May 11, 2012


U.S. News & World Report every year publishes a list of the Best High Schools in the nation, and several Idaho schools continue to top the list!

The magazine measures schools based on student-teacher ratio, college readiness based on AP tests, and student proficiency in mathematics and English.

The following high schools received a gold or silver medal. Here are their rankings among schools in Idaho:
  1. Coeur D'Alene Charter Academy (#115 nationally ranked)
  2. Boise High School (#413 nationally ranked)
  3. Timberline High School (#774 nationally ranked)
  4. Eagle High School (#1169 nationally ranked)
  5. Borah Senior High School (#1486 nationally ranked)
  6. Thomas Jefferson Charter (#1779 nationally ranked)
  7. Sugar-Salem High School (#1824 nationally ranked)
See the full list of Idaho schools that were recognized nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

Superintendent Luna Recognizes Teacher Appreciation Week

 A message from Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna about the great work teachers do each and every day in Idaho to improve the lives of children.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Idaho’s 8th grade students continue to outpace their peers across the nation in science. The Nation’s Report Card for Science 2011 was released today.

The average score of Idaho’s 8th graders at 159 was higher than the national average of 151 on the NAEP Science 2011. Seventy-five percent of 8th graders in Idaho performed at grade level or above on the assessment. This was about the same number of Idaho students as in 2009.

Eighth grade students in just six states outscored Idaho students. 

For the first time, all 50 states, D.C. and Department of Defense Schools participated in the science assessment, which is voluntary.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is administered every two years for math and reading. It is usually only administered every four years for science; however, it was given to 8th graders in 2011 so comparisons could be made between students in the United States and other countries on the international assessment known as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Students in the United States have lagged behind students in other countries in math and science on international assessments, such as PISA and TIMSS, in recent years.

Learn more about the NAEP Science 2011 in Idaho or across the country.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sal Khan to Speak at Third and Final Installment of the ED Sessions at Egyptian Theatre Tonight

Sal Khan will address a sold-out crowd at the Egyptian Theatre tonight to discuss his revolutionary approach to learning.

Mr. Khan is the creator of the Khan Academy, a free online learning resource that has reached millions of students around the globe.

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization that offers more than 3,000 online instructional videos on a range of subjects with a special emphasis on mathematics and science. The videos, which are rarely more than 10 minutes long, allow students to learn in small steps and at their own pace. Students stay engaged, and Khan Academy even incorporates game-like elements like badges to reward students for reaching milestones.

Khan Academy also offers a huge catalog of practice problems, with accompanying step-by-step breakdowns of each problem, and a comprehensive data-tracking system so students and teachers can see how students are doing. Teachers across the United States have integrated Khan Academy into their classrooms to create a blended learning environment and raise academic achievement.

Sal Khan is also an advocate of the flipped classroom, where students view video lectures at home, and then work through problems in class with the help of their teacher. This maximizes the efforts of the teacher and gives students the help they need when working through problems.

Mr. Khan has been featured on the PBS NewsHour, CNN, NBC Nightly News and National Public Radio. In 2009, the Khan Academy received the Microsoft Tech Award for education. In 2010, Google provided $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate its core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages. In October 2010, Khan was tied for #34 in FORTUNE’s annual “40 Under 40,” a list recognizing business’s hottest rising stars and recently listed at number 7 on Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.

In March 2011, Khan was invited to speak at TED by Bill Gates, who claims to use the Khan Academy Exercise Software to teach his own children.

Tickets for tonight’s event were free and are currently sold out, but ticket holders who are not in their seats by 6:40 pm will have their tickets released and priority for those seats will go to the first people waiting in line.

The sessions will also be streaming live on www.KTVB.com at 7pm tonight, and they will be broadcast on partner TV stations statewide May 5th-13th. See Airdates/Times.

Watch the 60 Minutes Segment on Khan Academy: http://www.studentscomefirst.org/digitalLearning.htm

Learn more about the EdSessions: http://www.theedsessions.org/#home

Visit the Khan Academy Website: http://www.khanacademy.org/


In March, after the State of Idaho passed the Students Come First reform laws, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation donated $21 million to help create a 21st century learning environment in every classroom in every Idaho school. The grant money will be used specifically to fund a pilot of the Schoolnet instructional management system in 15 Idaho school districts before Idaho provides the tool to every classroom teacher.

The 15 school districts and public charter schools awarded are: New Plymouth, Sugar-Salem, Meridian, Cassia County, Lake Pend Oreille, Richfield, Minidoka County, Kuna, Buhl, Kimberly, Boundary County, Melba, Lakeland, Coeur d’Alene, and Anser Charter School.

“I am excited to partner with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation to provide these Students Come First technology grants to help create the 21st Century classroom in every classroom across Idaho,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “With these grants, Idaho teachers now have access to the current, accurate data they need to individualize instruction and raise academic achievement for every child.”

A component of the Idaho System for Education Excellence (ISEE) statewide longitudinal data system, Schoolnet (or ISEE Phase II) is a robust instructional management system. Schoolnet provides Idaho teachers with a single portal through which they can access current student information; track student progress; gain instant feedback on student performance; view and assess student growth; collaborate with other teachers; create, access, and share online lesson plans that meet standards; and access high-quality, standards-aligned digital content from leading education content partners like Discovery Education; all while reducing redundant data entry tasks and minimizing paperwork. Additionally, Schoolnet offers parental access to important student information, such as student growth reports, and allows parents to play a greater, more informed role in their children’s educations.

The state has been working for two years to identify this type of innovative technology that Idaho teachers and school leaders can use to ensure all Idaho students graduate from high school prepared to go on to postsecondary education and the 21st century workforce. The Schoolnet instructional management system was chosen last year after a rigorous selection process conducted by classroom teachers, school administrators, parents, school board trustees, and representatives of the business community.

Because of seed money from the Albertson Foundation, some functions of the instructional management system—such as access to content standards and lesson-planning tools—are currently available in every classroom across the state today. The 15 selected school districts will pilot additional tools that allow teachers to immediately assess students, monitor academic progress, and guide instruction on a daily basis. These tools will be rolled out to all schools statewide in the future.

Superintendent Luna visited several school districts in Idaho to present their grant awards. Here are pictures from that trip and a look at how some of the 15 grantee districts will use their grant funding to promote effective learning in their classrooms.



Buhl School District received a $100,000 grant. In addition to Schoolnet implementation, administrators in the Buhl school district plan to use some of their grant money to buy projectors, allowing them to turn their whiteboards into interactive whiteboards. They will also be using the money to purchase some mobile computing devices for teachers and students to use in the classroom. In accepting the district’s award, Popplewell Elementary School Principal Ron Anthony explained to his young students, “We’ve got good plans, big plans, to use this [grant] in the school district to increase the technology use…You guys are the lucky ones because you are going to get it for the rest of your career.”

Watch Principal Anthony Share His Plans


The Cassia County School District received a $194,600 grant. Cassia is an example of the geographical challenges that schools in our large, rural state face. Superintendent Gaylen Smyer explains: “Our school district is geographically larger than the state of Delaware.” Coordinating and collaborating with its rural schools is a task that will be made easier by Schoolnet. Smyer shared his excitement about the capacity to support high-quality instruction in the Cassia County Joint School District, saying Schoolnet will “allow you, in a very meaningful way, to improve and individualize your instruction.”

Coeur d'Alene

The Coeur d’Alene School District received a grant of $249,919.84. District Superintendent Hazel Bauman said the district plans to use its grant money to hire “really good technology teachers,” who will learn the ins and outs of Schoolnet so they can instruct other teachers on how to get the most out of technology use in their classrooms. One teacher expressed excitement that, through Schoolnet, parents will soon be able to pull up student achievement information and stay better informed about how their students are doing. Some students, however, were less excited about the prospect of their parents checking in on their attendance and missing assignments.

Watch Superintendent Bauman Discuss Her District's Plans


Joint School District No. 2 in Meridian received a $250,000 grant. Superintendent Linda Clark looks forward to what the additional grant money will allow her district to accomplish with Schoolnet. “This is a very significant amount of money,” said Clark, “and will enable us continue the work we’ve done to try to ensure that the data that gets uploaded into the ISEE system is correct, accurate.” Meridian plans to use the grant money to fund curriculum and assessment work as the district continues to align its materials to the Common Core State Standards and Idaho Standards. Clark was also pleased with the tools and content—especially content from Discovery Education—that would be available to her teachers through Schoolnet. “We are thrilled that the state has put content on there already and really, really thrilled about the Discovery announcement,” Clark said. “Most important of all is training teachers in how to use it to improve student achievement. That’s what it’s really all about…We are just looking forward to making really great use of this.”

Listen to Superintendent Clark Share Her Plans for Grant Use


The Minidoka County School District received a $150,000 grant. In Minidoka, Superintendent Scott Rogers asked his young students whether they “really like the iPads” they received. The answer was obvious from the cheers that erupted. Minidoka plans to hire staff to provide professional development to teachers so they can master the Schoolnet software. Training is already going on at the leadership level in Minidoka and will soon be available for teachers. School Board Chair Brian Duncan was pleased that, for the first time, the district would be able to provide teachers with real-time time data, allowing them to avoid grading stacks of paper and to know instantly how students have done. “We are excited,” said Rogers. “This is going to help us move forward and become a world-class school district.”

Watch Superintendent Rogers Discuss His District's Grant

Watch School Board Chair Brian Duncan Share About Schoolnet


The Sugar-Salem School District received a $100,000 grant. The district will use its grant funding to finish a task it began some time ago—setting up and adding key hardware, like projectors and laptops, to create 21st century learning environments in its classrooms. It will also provide professional development to teachers to facilitate the use of Schoolnet. This will include helping teachers align curriculum to Common Core State Standards, which are an integral part of Schoolnet, and working with teachers on entering in lesson plans and other materials that are integrated with Schoolnet. Sugar-Salem will also be developing end-of-course assessments that will allow them to compare the performance of its students to the performance of students in other districts “If we’re not aligning our curriculum and aligning how we teach in the classroom to how the students are accustomed to receiving information, we’re not going to reach them as well as we could,” said Sugar-Salem High Principal Mark Gee. “We feel in Sugar-Salem that while it’s extremely important to have a highly qualified teacher that knows how to deliver this material, there needs to be a technological aspect to it in order for us to really reach the students on the level where they’re expecting that kind of education.”

Watch Principal Gee Explain Sugar-Salem's Approach to Technology

Here is the full list of grantees and the amount each district received: