Friday, August 31, 2012


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna today announced the results of Idaho’s new school accountability system, known as the Five-Star Rating System.

“We have been working toward a new system of increased accountability that focuses on multiple measures, including academic growth, for every child in Idaho for years. Today, we are finally able to begin moving to the Five-Star Rating System, which is a better and more accurate way to evaluate how Idaho schools are performing academically,” Superintendent Luna said. “This is an exciting year because our accountability system is now aligned with our vision to create a 21st Century education system where every student graduates prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.”

The Idaho State Department of Education and State Board of Education worked closely with parents, educators and community members over the past year to develop this new Five-Star Rating System, including a series of focus groups, meeting with educational stakeholders and a public comment period. 

“The new 5-Star accountability plan will more accurately measure the academic quality of Idaho schools. We are pleased that this system was developed in Idaho, with help from our own educators,” said Ken Edmunds, President of the Idaho State Board of Education. “This is a step in the right direction for Idaho’s K-12 education system.”

Under the Five-Star System, schools with grades K-8 will be measured on academic growth, or how much progress students have made academically, as well as the number of students who reach grade level or higher on the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT).

High schools will be measured based on academic growth, the number of students who reach grade level or higher on the ISAT as well as measures of student success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Those measures include a school’s graduation rate, the number of students enrolled in and successfully completing advanced courses, and student scores on college entrance exams. The state currently pays for all students to take the SAT or ACCUPLACER.

All schools, no matter the grade level, also will be measured on participation by demonstrating they have tested at least 95 percent of their students. 

After calculating these measures, each school receives a Star Rating on a scale of one to five, one being the lowest-performing and five being the highest-performing. Unlike AYP, the Star designation is a clear, easy-to-understand and transparent way to let the community, parents, and educators know how their local school is performing academically.

Here is a brief description of each Star Rating:

  • Four-Star and Five-Star Schools will be publicly recognized and celebrated for their excellent performance as top-performing schools across Idaho. These schools will serve as examples to other schools.
  • Three-Star Schools will be recognized as doing a good job for students because most students have met the academic benchmarks set by the state. These schools will be required to develop improvement plans for the few areas in which they still need improvement.
  • One-Star and Two-Star Schools are schools identified for areas of improvement. These schools will develop school improvement plans tied to research-based best practices, and the State Department of Education will focus intense time and resources to provide the support necessary to raise academic achievement and close achievement gaps in these schools.

Previously, under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the state evaluated schools only on a measure known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which assessed whether or not the students in a school passed the ISAT. Idaho has applied for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to move away from these one-size-fits-all provisions of No Child Left Behind, so the state can use multiple measures in evaluating a school’s performance. The Idaho State Board of Education approved Idaho’s waiver application in February.

Because the state has not yet received final approval on its waiver, the Idaho State Department of Education is releasing the AYP results for the 2011-2012 school year and the preliminary results for the new Five-Star Rating System at the same time today.

Results of Idaho’s new Five-Star Rating System:

More than half of Idaho’s schools – 379 schools – were rated as Four-Star and Five-Star Schools. Under the new system, 170 Idaho schools were rated as Three-Star Schools. Ninety-nine schools statewide were rated as One-Star and Two-Star Schools.

Here is a complete breakdown of the ratings under the new Five-Star Rating System:

Star Rating
Number of Schools
5 Star Schools
4 Star Schools
3 Star Schools
2 Star Schools
1 Star Schools

Total schools

Here are some highlights of the additional measures used in calculating the Star Ratings this year.

·         Last April, 16,561 11th grade students took the statewide SAT this year. The average SAT score was 1351. Full SAT results will be published next week.

·         The Star Ratings also measure the advanced opportunities that students enroll in and complete, including Advanced Placement courses, dual credit courses, and Tech Prep courses. Out of 38,227 eligible 11th and 12th grade students, 15,260, or 39.9 percent took an advanced opportunity course. This is the first year the state has reported statewide data in this area.

To see the full results of the Five-Star Systems or how a specific school performed, please visit

Results for Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP:

An estimated 60 percent of Idaho schools made AYP this year. Last year, about 62 percent of schools met this academic goal.

To make AYP, a school must meet the student achievement goals – or proficiency targets – set by the Idaho State Board of Education both as an entire school and in 40 additional target areas during a given school year. The target areas include students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency and students who are economically disadvantaged. The proficiency targets for the 2011-12 school year were 85.6 percent in reading and 83 percent in math, the same as the previous school year.

To see the full AYP results by state, district or school, visit

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Governor Jeb Bush recognized Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna for their bold efforts to reform Idaho’s education system in his speech at the Republican National Convention tonight.

“Idaho's Governor Otter and Superintendent Luna are raising up the best teachers and separating out the ineffective ones. That earned some enemies. Some of them slashed the superintendent's tires. But he didn't back down,” Governor Bush said.

Governor Bush also highlighted other bold education reforms taking place in Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Maine, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada and Tennessee.

“I was honored to be mentioned by Governor Jeb Bush in his speech to the Republican National Convention tonight. He is a true leader in education reform,” Superintendent Luna said. “I am excited about what we have been able to accomplish in Idaho through Students Come First. These education reform laws will improve educational opportunities for all Idaho students, no matter where they live. Idaho's Governor, state legislators, and hard-working teachers and parents deserve national attention for their great work in this direction.”


Apangea, the web-based math intervention system available to all schools in the state of Idaho through the Idaho Math Initiative, is now called Think Through Math. And it’s undergone more than just a name change. It now offers additional services and is available from grade 3 through Algebra I, with all content aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Credit Recovery and Alternate Route Programs will also be available through Think Through Math in the very near future. Think Through Math (TTM) is still available at no cost to Idaho schools and districts.


If you had an active Apangea account last year (at least one student using Apangea), you can simply go to and click on “Teacher Log in”. Enter your email address and click “forgot password”. You will be emailed directions on how to reset your password. If you are new to TTM, please contact Marisa Alan at  to set up a new TTM account.


On your new homepage, you will see options for creating a class and adding students. When enrolling your students this year, please note: **It is Mandatory that You Include Your Students’ State ID Number (EDUID)**. Entering this data now will ensure a smooth transition to a new Schoolnet login process that will be implemented later in the school year. If you do not include this number when you enroll your students, all student data could be lost when we transfer to the Schoolnet system. Please do not enroll students until Tuesday, September 4th. 


Once your students are enrolled, please click on “My Classes” and then on “Start Cards”. You can now print student user cards directly from your teacher page with each student’s name, username, and password already formatted.

Please explore the “Preview Lesson” tab on the left hand side of your teacher page. Here you can select specific units, lessons, and activities and use them to demonstrate how TTM works to your class. It’s a great way to introduce TTM to your students. You can also use this feature to integrate Think Through Math into your classroom, even if you don’t have computers for each student.

Please take a moment to view the Fidelity presentation located under the Support tab. It is based on feedback from teachers from across the nation whose students have shown the greatest success with TTM. It will be well worth the 10 minutes and help you start off the year on the right foot with TTM. There are also several help documents listed on the far right. This is where you will find the new student math journal that you can use in your classroom. 


You are highly encouraged to participate in one of TTM’s no-cost training options. They have a brand new training this year: Integrating Think Through Math Into Your CCSS Classroom is a three-hour training that can be done at your site if you have enough interested teachers. TTM also has daily webinar trainings and prerecorded video training located under the “Support” tab. 

To set up training or for more information, please contact your regional program manager: 

·         Regions I and II: Donette Pickett,
·         Region III: Marisa Alan,
·         Regions IV, V, and VI: Sydnie Kunz,

For more information

Think Through Math Homepage: 

Idaho State Department of Education:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Last week, Joint School District No. 2 in Meridian held its district Technology Conference to showcase how teachers are currently using technology in the classroom and new ways in which they can help engage 21st century learners.

In one session, teachers Erin Tiderman and Karen Miller conducted a session on integrating digital tools into secondary classrooms.

In the following clip, Erin shares the fun, free tool Powers of Ten on the Sponge Lab website. Powers of Ten is a scrolling, magnification simulation that helps students relate scale and size, from planets on a universal scale to DNA on a microscopic scale.  Erin also uses Powers of Ten to begin teaching her students scientific notation.

This is just one of several great examples I saw of classroom technology throughout the day. Thanks to Joint School District No. 2 for another great Technology Conference!

~ Camille W.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The Idaho State Department of Education is hosting a Charter Start 101 workshop for parents, educators, and others interested in learning more about what it takes to start a public charter school in Idaho on September 13-14, 2012, in Boise.

Public charters schools are free public schools that are open to all students. A public charter school gives parents the choice of sending their children to a school that uses innovative methods to provide a quality education in a smaller, more responsive learning environment.

This two-day workshop will be held September 13-14, 2012 at the Idaho State Department of Education offices at 650 West State Street, Boise.

Charter Start 101 workshops provide hands-on technical assistance for all new charter developers and any individual or group interested in a public school conversion. The workshop is designed to support public charter school developers at all stages – from vision to implementation.

Workshop attendance is a statutory requirement for all individuals and groups developing a charter school. This free workshop will be from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at the State Department of Education. Registration starts at 7:45 a.m. on the first day. All participants will receive a charter start resource guide and a certificate of participation.

The deadline to register is Thursday, September 6, 2012. To register, please complete the registration form at  For more information, contact Michelle Taylor at