Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Think Through Math and the state of Idaho will kick off the Fourth Annual Idaho Math Cup on November 1, 2012. Students across the state will be battling to win the title of Idaho Math Cup Champion. Last year’s champion was Ms. Woods class at Birch Elementary. The students used teamwork and showed incredible perseverance to earn this honor.

The winning class this year will receive the coveted Idaho Math Cup trophy and an awards ceremony where each student will receive special recognition, complete with customized certificates and T-shirts. There will also be prizes awarded to the runner-up classes and individual students statewide.

“The Idaho Math Cup is a great way for students to challenge themselves to improve their math skills and become better problem-solvers and critical thinkers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “I am proud to partner with Think Through Math through the Idaho Math Initiative to host this competition each year and bring more of these opportunities into the classroom to help all students achieve in mathematics.”

Tens of thousands of students throughout Idaho will be able to participate at school, during afterschool programs, and at home throughout the contest period. Think Through Math, formerly Apangea Math, will also name other Class Champions that will receive a special classroom party prize package. Also, students are eligible to become Individual Champions that will each receive prizes such as Walmart and Amazon giftcards.

The Idaho Math Champion will be the class from the entire state with the highest average number of points earned during the contest per enrolled student. The Idaho Math Cup Champion will be the individual class with the highest average. Individual student winners will be randomly selected from all students meeting the minimum point thresholds. For complete contest rules and regulations, please visit the Think Through Math website. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


Dentists don’t hate candy, but they aren’t big fans of tooth decay either. Following a few simple guidelines will help you enjoy your Halloween bounty and keep a healthy mouth.

Here are some healthy Halloween tips from the Idaho State Dental Association, shared by Dr. Shepard, DDS:
  • Consume Halloween candy with meals – Saliva production increases during meals, neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and helping rinse away food particles.
  • Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time – Candies that need to be sucked down for a long period of time subject teeth to prolonged acid attack, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
  • Avoid sticky candies that cling to your teeth – Taffy and gummy bears take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.  
  • Better to eat two pieces at once than separately over the day – It is the frequency that is the most important factor in tooth decay, not the quantity. This helps limit exposure to acids that are left on teeth after eating.
  • Brush daily: 2 minutes, 2 times a day – Now more than ever, it’s important you brush a minimum of twice a day for two minutes. This can save you from severe tooth pain later.

Tips for Kids with Braces:

Braces don’t mix well with some kinds of candy—chewy treats can damage braces and lengthen treatment time. But that doesn’t mean children with braces have to miss out on the Halloween fun. Here are some special tips for those who have braces this Halloween:

  • Kids with braces can still enjoy soft, easy-to-chew treats such as: melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, peanut butter cups, etc.
  • Rinse, brush, and floss after your Halloween outings. This should dislodge any candy stuck in the braces. This is also a great tip for everyone, not just someone with braces.
  • Make treats that everyone can enjoy. You can find several dental-friendly recipes and resources online.

Not Every Halloween Treat Has to Be Sweet:
  • Looking for a candy alternative? The American Dental Association teamed up to help teach kids of all ages about good oral hygiene. Check out for fun freebies like printable zombie masks, coloring pages, and more! It’s a fun alternative to candy, and it’s free!.

For more dental-friendly tips, please visit the Idaho State Dental Association’s Facebook page or visit your local dentist.

  • Follow the ISDA on twitter: @The_ISDA
  • Like the ISDA on Facebook: Idaho State Dental Association

Friday, October 26, 2012


Middleton's Sign Greets Guest Reed Timmer
Reed Timmer of Discovery's Storm Chasers television show roused a packed assembly room full of Middleton High School students yesterday with videos and stories of his work as a storm chaser and a message about the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education. 

Timmer was brought to Middleton thanks to a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and Students Come First. Students Come First works to create equal access and opportunity for all students by integrating more technology and digital resources into the classroom.

Timmer and Middleton Students Spot a Storm

As Discovery Education's chief meteorologist and a fixture on the Storm Chasers show, Timmer can often be seen heading the wrong direction when a tornado is coming. Hunkered in a custom-modified vehicle, spikes sunk into the ground, Timmer and his storm chaser team intercept tornadoes to collect scientific data and capture high definition video to help scientists document and better understand these powerful storms.

For Timmer, the job is a dream come true. A lifelong science enthusiast, Timmer turned his passion into a career. But it wasn't always this way.

Reed Timmer shared with the Middleton High School assembly that his passion for science and learning started at an early age. It wasn't always "cool," laughed Timmer, as he shared the fact that he collected bugs until he was sixteen, but he loved learning about science and the world we live in.

Timmer started chasing storms long before he thought it might become a lucrative career. He and his friends would chase storms in his $500 vehicle. Eventually, he was able to buy an SUV, and after the first season of Storm Chasers was a hit, he was able to begin creating the "Dominator" vehicles.

Timmer Addresses a Full Auditorium

Despite the distraction and success of the Storm Chasers show and all the hands-on learning that has come with it, Reed Timmer has continued to pursue learning inside the classroom as well. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D.

The students of Middleton High School were excellent hosts, gifting Timmer a Middleton Vikings football sweatshirt and listening intently as he shared his story. Timmer was a gracious guest as well, signing autographs and taking pictures with students, as well as sitting for an interview with Middleton High School's video production team.

Middleton's Video Production Class Interviews Their Guest

When asked about his success thus far and his recommendations for students seeking careers in STEM, Timmer had some simple advice: "Follow your passion. Do what you love. Practice. Study. Learn." 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The State Department of Education will award $1.8 million in grants to fund afterschool programs across the state for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Now is the time for school districts and other organizations to apply. 

The funding is available through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, which is designed to provide academic enrichment opportunities, art, music, recreation, sports, drug and violence prevention, and youth development activities to students during non-school hours.  The State Department of Education currently funds 98 afterschool centers throughout Idaho, which serve a total of 6,567 Idaho youth daily.

“Afterschool programs are a great way to connect the school with its families and community and support school improvement efforts,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. “The 21st CCLC program is an opportunity for Idaho’s schools to seek additional funding that supports extended learning time for the most at-risk students. This program aligns well with all of the initiatives Idaho has put in place to ensure students graduate from high school prepared to go on to postsecondary education and the workforce.”

School districts, municipalities, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and private corporations are eligible for these grants. Successful applicants will receive funding for up to five years. Grant applications are due January 25, 2013.

Those considering applying for funding are strongly encouraged to attend a Bidder’s Workshop. The following workshops are open to any interested party:  

  • Thursday, November 1: Red Lion Hotel, 1357 Blue Lakes, Twin Falls
  • Friday, November 2: Pocatello School District Office, 3115 Poleline Rd, Pocatello  
  • Friday, November 9: Coeur d’Alene School District Mid Town Center, 1505 N 5th St, Coeur d’Alene
  • Thursday, November 15: Weiser High School Library, 690 W Indianhead Rd, Weiser
  • Friday, November 16: State Department of Education offices, 650 W State St., 2nd floor, Boise
 All workshops will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a one hour lunch break. All workshops are free.

To register for the workshops or to view the grant application, visit or call (208) 332-6960. Participants are expected to download and review the application prior to the workshop. 

If you need more information, please contact Camille McCashland, Program Specialist, at (208) 332-6960. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Idaho has contracted with HP to manage the rollout and implementation of a 1:1 ratio of students and teachers to devices in every public high school in Idaho. This rollout is part of the Students Come First laws to help ensure every child has equal access to the best educational opportunities, no matter where they live.

After a competitive process, the State of Idaho has selected HP to procure the 1:1 laptop devices. The device is the HP ProBook 4440s.

Idaho signed a contract with HP on October 23, 2012. HP and the Idaho State Department of Education will now work together to develop a detailed plan for deploying devices, professional development and other services for teachers and principals in this first school year as well as scheduling the deployment of devices to students next school year and in future years.

The Idaho State Department of Education estimates high school teachers will begin receiving devices near the beginning of the spring semester along with professional development opportunities throughout the spring and summer.

Idaho has contracted with HP for a managed service that includes the following:
  • HP ProBook 4440s device
  • Maintenance of devices
  • Security on devices
  • Technology support for devices
  • Professional development for teachers and school administrators
  • Wireless infrastructure in every Idaho high school
Idaho is paying $249.77 per student/teacher for the managed service of providing the device, maintenance, security and technology support. If you include wireless infrastructure and professional development, the state is paying $292.77 per student/teacher.

The statewide contract includes:
  • 3% spare devices for students to swap out immediately in case a device needs maintenance. Any devices that are broken or damaged will be repaired at HP’s Boise campus.
  • Batteries that last the length of the school day.
  • Wireless in every Idaho high school by December 2013. The first one-third of schools scheduled to receive devices for students in Fall 2013 will be equipped with wireless infrastructure before school begins next year.
  • Professional development provided by HP, in partnership with Idaho Digital Learning Academy.
  • Microsoft Office Professional on every device. In addition, the standard image on the device will be customizable for each district.
  • Content filtering and anti-virus software
  • 7 GB of cloud storage and collaboration space
  • 4-year warranty on every device


Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter joined State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna today in announcing that HP – one of Idaho’s largest private employers – will be the State’s mobile computing devices contractor under the “Students Come First” education reforms.

The Governor and Superintendent joined HP executives and employees at the company’s Boise campus to announce the agreement and demonstrate the HP Probook Notebooks that will be deployed to students in every Idaho public high school. The partnership joins the Idaho Education Network – which now extends broadband Internet connectivity to high schools through Idaho – as tools in helping students reach their full academic potential.

“If we use yesterday’s education system for today’s children, we deny them the promise of tomorrow. That’s why I’m pleased and proud to see that a hometown company employing thousands of Idaho people and with a deep commitment to Idaho’s future is engaged and in fact leading the way in the effort to provide a world-class education for every Idaho student,” Governor Otter said. “We’re growing our partnership with HP, and together with our valued teachers and administrators we look forward to meeting the challenges of preparing our young people for continuing their educations and competing effectively in the global marketplace.”

The eight-year, $180 million contract between the State Department of Education and HP covers implementing the wireless network, deploying the mobile devices, monitoring and maintaining the system and devices, and training teachers and staff. That breaks down to less than $300 per student and teacher.

While the agreement still depends on voters approving Proposition 3 on the November 6th ballot, Superintendent Luna said today’s announcement marks an important step toward reaching Idaho’s education reform goals. 

“Idaho now joins thousands of other schools and states in offering this opportunity to its students,” Superintendent Luna said. “With this device, broadband Internet in every high school and the expansion of a wireless learning environment to every classroom, Idaho is finally on a path to providing equal access to the best educational opportunities to every student, no matter where a child lives in our great state.”

Monday, October 22, 2012


The Idaho State Board of Education, in partnership with K-12 and higher education, business leaders and government representatives, will hold the Complete College Idaho conference on October 30-31, 2012, in the Student Union Building on the campus of Boise State University. 

The conference will begin on October 30th with an evening reception hosted by the College Board, the provider of the statewide SAT college entrance exam. BSU Athletic Director Mark Coyle will be the featured speaker at the reception.  Attendees will also have an opportunity that evening to talk to representatives from innovative education programs and providers and learn about resources to promote college access and completion.

Among the speakers for the general session on Wednesday, October 31st, are Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter; representatives from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation; and leaders of education partnerships across the state.

Stan Jones, President of Complete College America, will give the keynote address on the 31st. Complete College America is a national nonprofit that works with states to increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented groups.

Idaho is among the 31 members of the Complete College America Alliance of States, and, as such, has pledged to make college completion a top priority. The State Board of Education has established a 60 percent goal to see that 60 percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25 and 34 achieve a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020.

Click here to register and view conference details.


A third grade teacher in the Vallivue School District was named the 2012 Milken Educator of the Year for Idaho during a surprise assembly Monday morning.

Sara Ward, an elementary teacher at Lakevue Elementary School, received $25,000 as part of the prestigious award from the Milken Family Foundation. She was recognized for her innovative teaching strategies to make sure all students succeed in her classroom and in the future.

“I am so honored to recognize Sara Ward as Idaho’s 2012 Milken Educator of the Year. She is known as a rising star among her peers because she is constantly thinking outside the box to make sure her students achieve,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “We are so grateful to the Milken Family Foundation for continuing to recognize and help reward Idaho’s excellent educators.”

The recognition came as a complete surprise to Sara Ward! Her identity was kept secret until Superintendent Luna announced the award during a schoolwide assembly at Lakevue Elementary School on Monday. Superintendent Luna was joined by Dr. Gary Stark, President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, Idaho State Board Member Milford Terrell, and Dr. Pat Charlton, superintendent of the Vallivue School District. 

“Sara is passionate about elementary education,” Charlton said. “She is consistently trying to go beyond just teaching the daily subject content for math, reading, language, and science, but also teaching her students the skills that will enable them to ultimately teach themselves, become better problem solvers, and critical thinkers. Her goal is for her students to walk away from her class with the confidence that they can apply everything they have learned.”

Ward said she was both “overwhelmed” and “humbled” by the award. As of right now, she is not sure how she will spend the $25,000. “First, I told my husband I’d take him to dinner,” she said, laughing. “Then, I imagine a good portion will go into my classroom.”

State Board member Milford Terrell said, “On behalf of the State Board of Education, I congratulate Sara Ward on receiving this prestigious award. It is gratifying to see one of Idaho’s truly exceptional teachers recognized for her passion and dedication to our students.”
Sara Ward, second from left, stands with Supt Luna, Dr. Pat Charlton, former Milken Award winners, Principal Leeta Hobbs and Dr. Gary Stark of the Milken Family Foundation.
Ward is now one of 14 educators in Idaho who have received the prestigious Milken Educator Award since Idaho joined the Milken program in 2003. More than 2,500 educators have received the award nationwide.

The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982 to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research. 

About Sara Ward

Sara Ward was awarded the 2012 Milken Educator of the Year in Idaho because of her passion and innovative strategies in the classroom to help every child succeed. Ward is known as a “rising star in the education profession,” according to Dr. Pat Charlton, Superintendent of Vallivue School District. Though she has only taught for six years, she has already been recognized as Lakevue Elementary Teacher of the Year and was the first runner-up for Vallivue District Teacher of the Year.

Ward is known as an innovator who creates games so her students can apply the lessons they learn to real life. She is well-known for the “Beat the Boss” game that combines reading, math and language usage content. There are 24 levels, and students earn prizes as they work through the levels. The game is all about problem-solving and critical thinking because students must figure out their own strategies to succeed at each level. Students are completely engaged and even come in early and stay late to play the game.

Through her innovative work, Ward has seen great results in the classroom with nearly all the students in her class at proficient or advanced.

For these reasons and more, Sara Ward is the 2012 Milken Educator of the Year in Idaho. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has declared today, October 18, 2012, Lights On Afterschool Day!

Lights On Afterschool is a nationwide celebration to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs.  In Idaho, programs will celebrate today and throughout the month.  

Here is the text of Governor Otter’s Proclamation:

WHEREAS, the citizens of Idaho are firmly committed to quality afterschool programs and opportunities because they provide safe, challenging, engaging and fun learning experiences to help children and youth develop their social, emotional, physical, cultural and academic skills; and

WHEREAS, the State of Idaho has provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education and well-being of our youth, grounded in the principle that quality afterschool programs are key to helping our children become successful adults; and

WHEREAS, Lights On Afterschool, a national celebration of afterschool programs held this year on October 18, promotes the importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities; and

WHEREAS, 29 percent of Idaho’s K-12 children are responsible for taking care of themselves afterschool; and

WHEREAS, afterschool programs across Idaho have helped to significantly boost student achievement; and

WHEREAS, the State of Idaho is committed to investing in the health and safety of all young people by providing expanded learning opportunities that will help eliminate the achievement gap, promote physical activity and prepare young people to go onto colleague and compete in the global economy;

NOW, THEREFOR, I C.L. “BUTCH” OTTER, Governor of the State of Idaho, do hereby proclaim October 18, 2012 to be


Learn more about Lights On Afterschool or find a local event near year!  You can join your local afterschool program and support keeping the Lights On and our children safe afterschool. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The U.S. Department of Education announced today it has approved Idaho’s new accountability system.

Under this new system, Idaho is able to move away from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind and create a new system of increased accountability that is based on multiple measures of student achievement, including academic growth.

“This is a great day for Idaho students, Idaho schools and Idaho teachers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “Our previous accountability system was put in place when Idaho’s seniors were in second grade. It is a decade old and must be updated to more accurately measure student achievement now and in the future. Through Idaho’s new accountability system, we can use multiple measures, including academic growth, to better evaluate how schools are performing statewide. We will use this data to recognize our excellent schools and provide intensive technical assistance to schools that are struggling.”

The new accountability system still must receive final approval from the Idaho State Board of Education. The State Board will consider this during its meeting in Lewiston this week. In February, the Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Idaho’s application for a federal waiver from certain provisions on No Child Left Behind. Now, it must give its approval on the final waiver since changes have been made in the past few months.

In past years, under No Child Left Behind, states could only measure school success based on proficiency – or how many students pass the test. These rankings were announced as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The federal law, which originally passed in 2001, was supposed to be reauthorized four years ago so states could include academic growth, or how much progress a student makes in a given year. Since the law has not been reauthorized, Idaho applied for a federal waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind law to give the state the flexibility to develop a new accountability system based on multiple measures, including academic growth.

Superintendent Luna and staff at the State Department of Education worked with educational stakeholders to create the new accountability system, known as the Five-Star Rating System.

“Academic growth is a more accurate measure of how students are performing academically and how teachers and educators are working to raise student achievement every year,” said Dr. Linda Clark, Superintendent of Joint School District No. 2 in Meridian. “I am so excited the state has applied for and received a waiver so we can now move to a new system of accountability that focuses on growth.”

Dr. Charles Shackett, Superintendent of the Bonneville School District, said: “I am so happy for this new accountability system because it finally provides a true measure of the progress we are making in our schools. By using multiple measures, including academic growth, we know exactly how our students are performing and growing today and where they need to be in the future to graduate from high school prepared for the world that awaits them.”

Dr. Wiley Dobbs, Superintendent of the Twin Falls School District, said: “With this waiver, Idaho’s schools can now move away from the restrictions of No Child Left Behind to a new system that better measures how well Idaho schools are really preparing students for the 21st century. In Twin Falls, we are excited that this system not only identifies where schools can improve but also publicly recognizes the excellent work schools across Idaho are doing every day for students.”

This new accountability system is based on higher standards, academic growth, and improved performance evaluations for educators – all key components of the Students Come First reform laws that passed in 2011.

Under the Five-Star Rating System, schools no longer receive an AYP rating but receive a rating based anywhere from One Star to Five Stars. The new rating system measures academic proficiency on the ISAT as well as growth on the ISAT and postsecondary and career-ready metrics, such as advanced opportunities, college entrance exams and graduation rates. 

A Five-Star School is performing excellent in key areas – proficiency, academic growth, and postsecondary and career-ready metrics. A One-Star School, on the other hand, is struggling to meet the state’s goals in these areas and will receive additional technical assistance from the state.

In the 2011-2012 school year, more than half of Idaho’s schools – 379 schools – were rated as Four-Star and Five-Star Schools. Ninety-nine schools statewide were rated as One-Star and Two-Star Schools.

Representatives of educational stakeholder groups and members of the public helped to shape Idaho’s new accountability system. The Department held focus groups with parents, legislators, classroom teachers, principals, superintendent and school board trustees in October. The public could read and comment on a draft of the Idaho’s waiver application throughout the month of January.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna today called for elementary students across Idaho to participate in the annual Holiday Card Contest.

“The Department’s annual Holiday Card Contest is a great way for Idaho students to showcase their artwork and for the state to recognize the importance of arts in education,” Superintendent Luna said.

The contest is open to all public school students in grades K-6. One drawing will be selected to be published on the State Department of Education’s web site and used as the Department’s holiday greeting card. The child who submits the selected artwork will receive cards for his or her own use.

The following is a list of instructions for the 2012 Holiday Card Contest:
  1. The contest is open to public school students in grades K-6.
  2. Drawings should reflect winter scenes in Idaho appropriate for seasonal correspondence, and should not include copyrighted images such as Garfield the Cat, Bugs Bunny, Digimon characters, etc.
  3. Drawings should be on 8.5” by 11” paper in a landscape format.
  4. Drawings must be properly labeled. Write the name of the student, the student’s grade, district, school, and the teacher’s name on the back of the artwork. Please make sure this information is legible. (If you submit multiple grade levels, please keep the entries for each grade level separate.)
  5. Students may use as many colors as they wish in their drawings and may use watercolors, colored paper, magic markers, crayons, or some combination.  Students are encouraged to completely fill the page but keep the design simple. Too many details tend to get lost in the design.  Bold colors work best for the printing process. Please note: Fabric designs and pencil drawings are not suitable to our printing process and will not be selected.
  6. Students must be advised that entry into this contest constitutes (1) a waiver of all copyrights students have in their entries, and (2) permission to republish entries without compensation.
  7. Drawings will not be returned.
  8. The winning entries from each grade level will be published on the Idaho State Department of Education Web site at
  9. Submissions must be postmarked by Friday, November 9, 2012. Results will be announced in December. Drawings may be mailed to: State Department of Education, ATTN: Portia Flynn, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0027.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Six Idaho teachers have been selected as state finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation’s highest honor for U.S. mathematics and science teachers for grades K–12.

“These teachers are representative of the great teachers we have across the state of Idaho. These teachers were selected not only because they work hard every day but because they are willing to innovate and try new things,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “I am proud of these teachers and know they will represent Idaho well on the national level.”

The following teachers are state finalists for the science award:
  • Deirdre Bingaman of Donnelly Elementary School
  • Tauna Johnson of Genesee Elementary School
  • Zoe Jorgensen of A. H. Bush Elementary Magnet School, Idaho Falls

The following teachers are finalists for the mathematics award:
  • Crystal Silvers of Ramsey Magnet School of Science, Coeur d’Alene
  • Donna Wommack of Genesee Joint School District
  • Giselle Isbell of Anser Public Charter School, Garden City

The PAEMST awards program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of The White House. PAEMST awardees have been shown to devote more time to professional development, incorporate innovative approaches into their classroom teaching, and be more likely to use computers and other technologies in their classrooms.

Each year, a national committee of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards from each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories as a group, and the schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a $10,000 award, a Presidential citation and a trip to Washington, DC, for a series of recognition events, professional development activities and an awards ceremony.

The state finalists for science and mathematics were recognized by Idaho State Department of Education’s Science/STEM Coordinator Scott Smith at an awards ceremony this week at the Idaho Science Teachers Association Conference at Borah High School in Boise.