Monday, August 26, 2013


On Friday, the Task Force for Improving Education finalized its recommendations. The Office of the State Board of Education provided this great recap of the final recommendations. Visit the State Board’s website for a full list of the recommendations and supporting materials.

The Task Force considered recommendations from two subcommittees geared toward meeting the State Board of Education’s goal that 60 percent of Idaho citizens ages 25-34 attain at least a one-year postsecondary credential by 2020.  The recommendations adopted today are:

Mastery Based System
We recommend the state shift to a system where students advance based upon content mastery, rather than seat time requirements. This may require a structural change to Idaho’s funding formula and/or some financial incentive to school districts.  We also recommend that mastery be measured against high academic standards.

Idaho Core Standards
We strongly endorse the rigorous and successful implementation of the Idaho Core Standards as an essential component of high performing schools. Higher standards in all subject areas help raise student achievement among all students, including those performing below grade level.

Literacy Proficiency
We recommend students demonstrate mastery of literacy before moving on to significant content learning.  Reading proficiency is a major benchmark in a student’s education.  Students must learn to read before they can read to learn content in other subject areas.

Advanced Opportunities
We recommend the state ensure that all students have access to advanced opportunities by expanding post-secondary offerings while a student is still in high school.

Revamp the State’s Accountability Structure Involving Schools
We recommend the state revamp the accountability structure involving schools.  The existing structure that relies on compliance mandates should be replaced with a system that is based on accountability for student outcomes. The state has constitutional and financial authority and mandates to ensure a quality and uniform education. 

Empower Autonomy by Removing Constraints
We recommend the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education, and State Department of Education evaluate existing education laws and administrative rules and work with the Legislature to remove those which impede local autonomy, flexibility to adapt to local circumstances, and the ability of the schools to be agile, adaptive, innovative, and drive continuous improvement.

Annual Strategic Planning, Assessment, and Continuous Focus on Improvement
We recommend each district be required to have a strategic plan (and to renew it annually) that identifies and focuses district-wide continuous improvement toward statewide goals. Both the local board and the state should provide oversight to ensure that the plan is appropriate to local circumstances and aligns to and supports the state’s goals.  The plan forms the basis from which accountability will be structured and the superintendent will be evaluated.

Job-Embedded Collaboration/Professional Development Time
Teacher effectiveness is paramount to student success, and professional development is paramount to teacher effectiveness.  We recommend structural changes to allow for job-embedded collaboration time.  Time to collaborate is critical to effective teaching and implementation of higher standards and technology.   Professional development must be regularly scheduled and ongoing.

Statewide Electronic Collaboration System
We recommend that a statewide electronic collaboration system be adopted for educators to share ideas and resources across the state.

High Speed Bandwidth and Wireless Infrastructure
We recommend the state expand the existing high speed bandwidth infrastructure to ensure every school (high school, middle school, and elementary school) has the bandwidth and wireless infrastructure necessary for simultaneous equal access and opportunity.  This will require ongoing funding for the repair and replenishment of equipment.

Educator and Student Technology Devices
We recommend that every educator and student have adequate access to technology devices with appropriate content to support equal access and opportunity.  Educator professional development is critical to the effective implementation of technology.

Restoration of Operational Funding
We recommend restoration of operational funding to the 2009 level. Although traditionally called “discretionary” funding, operational funds are the normal, reasonable costs of doing business and include such items as paying for heat, lights and fuel; transporting students in a safe manner to and from school; and providing timely and relevant content materials and training for teachers. A multiple year approach could be implemented to rebuild operational funding.

Career Ladder Compensation Model
We recommend a phased implementation of a Career Ladder of teacher compensation.  The model proposed combines competitive salaries with incentives, rewards and accountability.  Further, we believe it should be tied to a revised system of state licensure.

Enrollment Model of Funding Schools
We recommend a change from Average Daily Attendance (ADA) to Average Daily Enrollment/ Membership.  This will enhance fiscal stability and remove current barriers to personalized and/or mastery learning models that are required to meet the State Board’s 60 percent goal. 

Tiered Licensure
We recommend a continuum of professional growth and learning that is tied to licensure.  Movement through the system would be accomplished in a very specific, objective way using performance measures.

We recommend that each district develop a mentoring program for the support of new teachers based on the Idaho Mentor Program Standards. These standards provide a vision and guidelines for local planners to use in the design and implementation of a high-quality mentor program for beginning teachers. We recommend the state provide funding support for a mentoring program.

Ongoing Job-embedded Professional Learning
We recommend that districts provide regular professional learning opportunities, and we support ongoing funding for professional development. We recommend the use of the research-based standards of the National Staff Development Council known as Learning Forward.  We further recommend that resources for educator learning be prioritized, monitored and coordinated at the state level. 

Site-based collaboration among teachers and instructional leaders
We strongly encourage districts to restructure the traditional school day schedule to allow for job-embedded collaboration time. We support the creation of professional learning communities that increase educator effectiveness and results for all students. We recommend providing training models to districts for their use in training the members of the professional learning communities, and encourage models that focus on team outcomes and collective responsibility.

Training and development of school administrators, superintendents and school boards
We recommend continued training and professional development of school administrators, superintendents and school boards. The committee supports further development and implementation of the Idaho Standards for Effective Principals and the pilot work being conducted in the 2013-14 school year to further explore effective performance measures for school administrators. This includes ongoing implementation and support for administrator training in assessing classroom performance through observation.

Provide enhanced pre-service teaching opportunities through the state’s colleges of education

We support the efforts of Idaho’s higher education institutions to increase and enhance clinical field experiences for pre-service teachers.

Participation in the CCSSO's "Our Responsibility, Our Promise" recommendations to improve teacher preparation
We support Idaho’s participation in implementing The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) “Our Responsibility, Our Promise” recommendations to help ensure that every teacher and principal is able to prepare students for college and the workforce.

The recommendations and final report from the Task Force will be delivered to the Governor in early September.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The Task Force for Improving Education, which was created in December 2012 to explore and develop ideas to improve K-12 education in Idaho, finalized its recommendations today.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said the following after the Task Force meeting adjourned:

“I am pleased with what the Task Force accomplished today. Through these recommendations, we can move our good education system to a great education system, a system in which we prepare every child to graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation once they get there. Many of the items recommended today are ideas we have discussed and debated for several years. Now, we have the solid framework in place and the support of all stakeholders involved in education to make these ideas possible. As State Superintendent, I will do everything in my authority to ensure we have the resources, policies and programs necessary so the work of this Task Force becomes a reality.”

Read more about the Task Force and its recommendations, on the State Board of Education's website.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Task Force for Improving Education to Meet Friday

The Idaho State Board of Education announced today the Task Force for Improving Education will meet Friday, August 23, 2013, in Boise to discuss recommendations developed by the subcommittees on Structural Change, Effective Teachers and Leaders, and Fiscal Stability. The meeting will be held at Boise State University beginning at 9 a.m. It will be streamed live online. Learn more about the upcoming Task Force meeting on the State Board's website.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna partnered with the Idaho Technology Council and leaders of technology companies in Idaho to propose a way to give Idaho students more opportunities to take STEM-related courses while in high school.

The proposed changes are part of Superintendent Luna’s efforts to ensure every Idaho student not only graduates from high school but goes on to postsecondary education prepared for the world that awaits them.

Superintendent Luna recommended the proposed change in administrative rule at the Idaho State Board of Education’s meeting in Pocatello on Thursday.

“With this flexibility, students can gain valuable exposure to high-demand fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Superintendent Luna said. “Often, students have interest in STEM courses, but are not willing to give up electives to take these classes. By expanding our math and science requirements, we will open up a world of high-tech opportunities to every high school student.”

Under the proposed rule change, high school students would have the option to take dual credit engineering, dual credit computer science, or Advanced Placement (AP) computer science and count it as a mathematics or science credit.

Currently, students can take these courses but only for elective credit, which does not count toward the state’s graduation requirement of three years of mathematics and three years of science.

The Idaho State Board of Education granted initial approval of this proposed rule, allowing it to go out for public comment. It will return to the Board in November for final consideration. If approved, the proposal will go before the Idaho Legislature in January for final approval. It must be approved by at least one body in the Legislature.

The Idaho State Department of Education worked closely with several technology businesses, higher education, and the Idaho Technology Council to develop this change in rule and expand what is considered a mathematics and science credit.

“The Idaho Technology Council is proud to work with the Idaho State Department of Education and leaders in Idaho’s technology industry to craft this change in state policy, which will give every Idaho student the opportunity to take STEM-related courses while in high school. Careers in these fields are important today and will only become more imperative in the future. By taking these courses in high school, students can gain the skills they need to graduate and pursue their future as engineers, computer programmers, software developers, or other jobs that have become critical in the world we live in today,” said Jay Larsen, President and Founder of the Idaho Technology Council.

STEM-related fields, including computer programming and engineering, are listed among the Idaho Department of Labor’s ‘hot jobs’ over the next decade. Jobs in these fields are expected to increase up to 30 percent. For example, across the country over the next seven years, companies are expected to need about 30,000 software developers.

If approved, this rule change will go into effect in the 2014-2015 school year.


Recognizing the benefits of regular participation in physical activity, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna proposed Thursday that Idaho make physical education – P.E. – a graduation requirement, which students can meet by taking P.E. classes in school or participating in afterschool sports or activities approved at the local level.

The proposed changes are part of Superintendent Luna’s efforts to ensure all Idaho students are prepared for the world that awaits them after graduation.

“Research shows that physical activity, especially when it occurs in school, not only provides many health benefits to students but also leads to better academic performance. Through these changes, we can better ensure all students have equal access to the same opportunities while they are in school,” Superintendent Luna said.

Superintendent Luna recommended the proposed changes to administrative rule at the Idaho State Board of Education’s meeting in Pocatello. The Board granted initial approval of the proposed rule changes, allowing them to go out for public comment. They will return to the Board in November for final consideration. If approved, the rule changes will go before the Idaho Legislature in January for final approval. It must be approved by at least one body in the Legislature.

According to the American Heart Association, 41 percent of adults in the United States will be obese by 2015. Regular physical education can help prevent this. P.E. is not only associated with many health benefits, such as lower risks of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, but studies also show students who participate in P.E. at school perform better in math and reading.

Based on this research and the benefit to students, the Idaho State Department of Education worked with the American Heart Association and the Idaho Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which represents P.E. teachers across Idaho, to develop requirements for P.E. in Idaho schools at every grade level.

Currently, P.E. is required in elementary and middle grades, but no minimum time requirement exists. In high school, P.E. is required to be offered, but students do not have to take it in order to graduate.

Under the proposed rule change, the state would require a minimum of 60 minutes per week of P.E. in elementary grades and a minimum of 200 minutes per week in the middle grades.

In high school, students would take at least 2 credits of P.E. in order to graduate. Superintendent Luna made sure the new proposed credit requirement provides Idaho students with the flexibility to show mastery and earn at least one of their two required credits by playing a sport or other activity outside the school day. The activity must be sanctioned by the Idaho High School Activities Association or approved by the local school district.

The majority of Idaho school districts are already meeting these proposed recommendations, with 77 percent of Idaho school districts reporting they require high school students to take P.E. at the local level before graduation.

“The P.E. and CPR proposal being considered by the Board of Education today is critical to the heart health of all Idahoans. Almost a third of Idaho students are overweight or obese, while the number of students taking P.E. is decreasing. Several studies have indicated that this generation of youth may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.  P.E. teaches students how to be physically active for a lifetime and how to integrate exercise into their daily lives,” said Adrean Cavener, Director of Government Relations for the Idaho American Heart Association.

“Idaho Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance was given a great opportunity to partner with the American Heart Association to improve the fitness and health levels of Idaho’s youth. Currently, Idaho does not have graduation requirements for physical education at the high school level nor does the state require a minimum weekly amount of physical activity time for elementary or middle school students. IAHPERD, along with several Idaho Physical Education Teachers, crafted this rule change to allow Idaho teachers more student contact time to improve Idaho’s youth fitness levels which will enhance academic performance,” said Trudy Weaver, President of the Idaho Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The Department also worked with the American Heart Association and the Idaho Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to develop a proposed rule that requires CPR training in at least one period of health class during high school.

Nearly 383,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11 percent survive, most likely because they do not receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save lives by filling our community with lifesavers – those trained to give sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until first responders arrive.

The goal of the new CPR requirement is to make sure every Idaho student receives hands-on training in health class before they graduate from high school. This requirement will not be an added cost to schools or districts. Under the proposed rule, CPR can be taught by local first responders, hospitals, or other community educators, typically at little or no cost to the school. Students will not have to complete a proficiency exam in order to graduate.

“Integrated into the already existing health class, this initiative would produce thousands of students ready, willing and able to save lives. This is imperative because four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home, so people who administer CPR are most likely saving the lives of family and friends,” Cavener with the Idaho American Heart Association said.

If approved by the Board and Legislature, these changes would be effective for the Class of 2019 (students entering 9th grade in Fall 2015).

See the proposed rule in its entirety on the State Board’s website.


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna supported the Idaho State Board of Education’s action to further protect student identifiable data on Thursday, but he reiterated that further action by Governor Otter or the Idaho Legislature is necessary to ensure student-level data is kept safe now as well as in the future.

“I applaud the Idaho State Board of Education for taking steps today to help protect student-level data in the State of Idaho. I strongly support these efforts, which are in line with the letter I sent to Governor Otter and the leaders of the House and Senate Education Committees last week, but I recognize more can be done,” Superintendent Luna said. “Either through executive order or legislative action, we can put strong laws and policies in place that ensure student-level data is protected not just now, but also in the future.”

Read the text of Superintendent Luna’s letter from August 8.

As Superintendent Luna has traveled across Idaho attending community meetings and forums this year, he heard concerns from many parents and patrons regarding student data. Most believe data is secure today, but want to make sure it remains protected in the future. To address these concerns, Superintendent Luna submitted a letter on August 8 to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees calling for the state to examine a strong approach to ensuring all student-level data remains secure through executive order or legislation.

The Idaho State Board of Education manages the Idaho Data Management Council, which was established in 2011. The Council makes recommendations on the oversight and development of Idaho’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and oversees the creation, maintenance and use of that system.

At its meeting in Pocatello today, the State Board of Education added to the current policy regarding data protection by stipulating that, “The privacy of all student level data that is collected by the SLDS will be protected. A list of all data fields (but not the data within the fields) collected by the SLDS will be publicly available. Only student identifiable data that is required by law will be shared with the federal government.” (Read the Board's news release in full online.)

Superintendent Luna voted yes on the motion, supporting this addition to Board policy.

Read more about the Idaho State Board of Education or its August meeting in Pocatello.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna joined Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Meridian Joint School District No. 2 Superintendent Dr. Linda Clark and officials from Chobani and the United Dairymen of Idaho to kick off the High-Protein (Greek) Yogurt Pilot Program in Idaho.

Idaho was one of four states selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pilot to make the Greek yogurt available as a protein addition to school menus.

Senator Crapo led letters from the Idaho Congressional Delegation, and, working with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and others, convinced the USDA to add Greek yogurt as a non-mandatory addition to USDA school nutrition programs for the 2013-14 calendar school years.

If the pilot program involving Idaho, New York, Tennessee and Arizona is successful, USDA may expand the Greek yogurt offerings to all 50 states. 

Chobani, with the world’s largest Greek yogurt production facility employing more than 600 people in Twin Falls, won the competitive bid to supply the four-state pilot project.

“The addition of Idaho-produced Greek yogurt to school lunch menus is a win-win for Idaho,” Crapo said.  “Not only will Idaho dairy producers and workers benefit, but Idaho’s students will have access to a nutritious protein-filled option.”

“We know students perform better academically when they eat healthy, nutritious meals. This will be a great way to showcase how Idaho is taking the lead in working to get more nutritious foods, including those produced right here in Idaho, into the hands of Idaho students,” Superintendent Luna said.

"We believe in supporting our local communities, which includes working tirelessly to provide access to simple, delicious and nutritious food to everyone, especially kids. With this USDA pilot program, we are one step closer to achieving that goal," said Kyle O'Brien, executive vice president of sales for Chobani.   "As the exclusive manufacturer chosen for this pilot, we are thrilled to be able to offer our authentic strained Greek Yogurt to K-12 schools right here in Idaho."

“Idaho’s dairy farm families have long been committed to improving the health of our students by providing fresh, wholesome dairy foods to school meal programs,” said Karianne Fallow, CEO of the United Dairymen of Idaho. “This pilot project represents yet another way that children can choose healthy and delicious options during the school day.”

Right now, the USDA is only piloting this program because yogurt is a highly perishable product. Therefore, it is important for USDA to assess the logistics of delivering this product effectively and efficiently to schools before making it available across the country. The states selected represent different regions of the country with varying proximity to yogurt manufacturers and will help test distribution through different warehousing models.

As part of the pilot, Idaho will help assess 1) the logistics of delivering high-protein yogurt to schools participating in the program, and 2) the usefulness of the product in school meals.

In Idaho, the pilot program is open to all Idaho school districts that use USDA foods. Idaho has 115 school districts across the state. Currently, only three districts – Boise, Grace and Fruitland – use Cash-in-Lieu rather than USDA foods. These districts can still choose to purchase Greek yogurt but will not participate directly in the pilot.

Schools can use high-protein yogurt in many ways. It can be served in single servings to students or used in other foods, such as parfaits, fruit smoothies, or even dressings. In the Idaho State Department of Education’s recently published Chef-Designed School Lunch book, the state included a recipe for a dressing that uses yogurt.

The pilot will include: 4oz single serving containers of flavored yogurt as well as unflavored yogurt in 32oz containers to provide schools with a variety of ways of serving this product. 

USDA will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of its initial procurement by December 2013 to determine next steps for the pilot.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna submitted a letter today to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees calling for the state to examine a strong approach to ensuring all student-level data remains secure.

“In recent months, the Idaho State Department of Education has fielded many questions related to data collection in education. As the state moves toward higher academic standards in mathematics and English language arts, some have tried to make a connection between our transition to these new standards and data collection. We all know this is not the case. The two are completely unrelated. However, many individuals have raised concerns about data collection that are valid and should be taken seriously,” Superintendent Luna said in the letter. “As State Superintendent, a father, a grandfather, and a strong conservative, I believe we must always remain vigilant in how we protect and maintain the data we collect in our public education system.”

He continued, “I believe we have laws in place in Idaho today that are working to protect every student, but the revelation in recent months regarding the National Security Agency and its monitoring of phone data should give every U.S. citizen pause. It certainly has given me pause.”

As Superintendent Luna has traveled across Idaho attending community meetings and forums this year, he heard concerns from many parents and patrons regarding student data. Most believe data is secure today, but want to make sure it remains protected in the future. To address these concerns, Superintendent Luna has asked Governor Otter to issue an executive order that will create a firewall that clearly protects and secures individual, student-level data at the state level from any federal intrusion now or in the future.

“Today, I strongly believe our data is secure and protected, but we must be vigilant and put laws and policies in place that will ensure our data is secure not just today, but in the future,” Superintendent Luna said.

Here is the full text of Superintendent Luna’s letter:

Dear Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Chairman John Goedde and Chairman Reed DeMordaunt:

In recent months, the Idaho State Department of Education has fielded many questions related to data collection in education. As the state moves toward higher academic standards in mathematics and English language arts, some have tried to make a connection between our  transition to these new standards and data collection. We all know this is not the case. The two are completely unrelated. However, many individuals have raised concerns about data collection that are valid and should be taken seriously.

As State Superintendent, a father, a grandfather, and a strong conservative, I believe we must always remain vigilant in how we protect and maintain the data we collect in our public education system. Data is a necessary part of any organization or industry to ensure we can track progress and make the best possible decisions at the state and local levels. The fact is, without quality data, we can never truly have accountability. At the same time, we must make sure that any and all data collected on students and their families remains safe and secure. I believe we have laws in place in Idaho today that are working to protect every student, but the revelation in recent months regarding the National Security Agency and its monitoring of phone data should give every U.S. citizen pause. It certainly has given me pause.

Therefore, I have strongly encouraged a robust discussion about data collection and its safety and security at the state level. I supported a resolution at the Idaho Republican Party State Central Committee meeting in June for the state to reject the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose and to institute safeguards that prevent the federal government from acquiring data on individual Idaho students and their families. To this end, I plan to do everything in my authority as State Superintendent to make the tenets of this resolution a reality.

While the State Board of Education is working to update its data collection policies, I believe we should examine a stronger approach either through an executive order or through legislation. An executive order is immediate action the Governor can take to establish a firewall to ensure that no personally identifiable data on students (with the exception of information required for the Migrant Student Database) and/or their families’ religion, political party affiliation, biometric information, psychometric data and/or voting history shall be collected, tracked, housed, reported or shared with the federal government.

In the longer-term, we could also run similar language as legislation in a bill during the 2014 Legislative Session to codify this firewall between the state and the federal government. This would ensure that not now nor at any time in the future could the state, a local school district or public charter school legally disclose individual, student-level data to the federal government.

I stand in strong support of both courses of action, and I will be the first to introduce legislation in 2014, if necessary. I look forward to working with you to make these stronger protections a reality because I believe this will not only further protect the students of Idaho, but it will further reinforce Idaho’s sovereignty as a state.


Tom Luna
Superintendent of Public Instruction

cc: State Board of Education members

Friday, August 2, 2013


More than 80 percent of eligible school districts and public charter schools have signed up to be connected to high-speed, uninterrupted wireless internet by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Of the possible 137 school districts and public charter schools eligible to participate in the first year of this statewide program, 93 school districts and 21 public charter schools, representing an estimated 200 schools, have chosen to participate. This represents nearly 90,000 students across the state. Some districts and charter schools were not eligible to opt in because they only serve elementary grades.

“As a state, it is our goal and our responsibility to ensure every child has equal access to the best educational opportunities, no matter where they live. It is clear schools are eager for this connectivity so they can provide teachers with the tools and resources necessary to meet the needs of every student,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said.

Through Senate Bill 1200, the Idaho Legislature appropriated $2.25 million “for the installation, repair, replacement and support of a wireless technology infrastructure, in each public school serving high school grades, of sufficient capacity to support utilization of mobile computing devices by all students in such grades.”

To meet this, the Idaho State Department of Education signed a five-year contract with Education Networks of America for a managed service that will provide not only the uninterrupted, high-speed wireless internet access in public high schools but also the ongoing support and repair required under the law. The contract came in under budget at $2.1 million a year.

The network within the statewide contract will have the capacity to support students and staff using modern wireless technologies, such as laptops and tablets, during the school day.

Educators across the state have voiced their support for this opportunity to integrate more advanced technology into their classrooms in the coming year.

“I cannot express what a fantastic opportunity this is for our students,” said Alan Dunn, Superintendent of the Sugar-Salem School District. “Everyday students have access to more and more technology, and we want to use this technology to communicate in ways that are most meaningful to them. We anticipate that in the near future every student will have multiple ways to access the internet to enhance their educational experience, which will require robust wireless capabilities.”

Heather Williams, Superintendent of the Gooding School District, said, “In today’s classroom, we are asking our teachers and students to draw from multiple sources of information to create a dynamic learning environment that is relevant and rigorous for every child. To support this, we must have high-speed wireless access throughout our building.”

“The Middleton School District appreciates this financial opportunity being provided by the SDE that will allow our high school to enhance our wireless connectivity, which helps prepare us for our Go One – Go On 1:1 Middleton High School laptop initiative. This opportunity will help ensure that our students have the needed reliable connectivity for daily research, lessons, and required testing with our new 1:1 laptops,” said Richard Bauscher, Superintendent of the Middleton School District.

All schools that opted in for wireless connectivity this school year should be connected by March 2014. If a school district or charter school did not opt in this year, they will have the opportunity to opt in next school year.

See a full list of schools and districts that opted in this school year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Schools across Idaho showed great improvement academically this year, according to the most recent results from the Five-Star Rating System.

Here are examples of success stories across the state this year:

Shoshone Middle School, Shoshone School District:
In 2010, Shoshone Middle School was identified for school improvement, but since then, the school has not only made academic progress in recent years, it has sustained it. The school has rated as a Four-Star School two years in a row. “Shoshone School District has been able to achieve a remarkable improvement in student achievement in the last three years. It started with a concrete goal of development of a clear and share focus on results and a commitment to implementation of research based best practices by everyone,” said Rob Waite, Superintendent of the Shoshone School District.

Van Buren Elementary School, Caldwell School District:
Despite challenging demographics, Van Buren Elementary School in Caldwell has made significant academic progress over the past year. Last year, Van Buren Elementary was a Two-Star School, and this year it is a Five-Star School. “Van Buren took a thorough and extensive look at our school's areas of excellence and our areas of opportunity to improve during the 2011-2012 school year. Based upon these factors, we entered into the 2012-2013 school year with an adjusted building system refined to either reinforce or reform areas identified in our effort to challenge all students in every grade level,” said Melissa Langan, Principal at Van Buren Elementary School.

Melba School District:
In 2009, schools in Melba received a School Improvement Grant to help turnaround their student achievement. Today, schools in Melba have made significant strides academically and are now showing great progress year over year. Melba High School was a Three-Star School last year and is now a Four-Star School. Melba Elementary School continues to rank among the highest-performing schools in the state as a Four-Star School. “Melba Elementary School is thrilled with the announcement that for the 2nd year in a row they have received a four-star rating from the State Department of Education,” said Principal Sherry Ann Adams. “This is a credit to the hard-working staff that can be found throughout the school.  There is a true dedication to doing what is best for all students. While achieving a four-star rating is very exciting, we will not just settle – we will continue to provide training to teachers on the best practices. We will continue to study the data and provide intervention and enrichment to help all students demonstrate academic growth.”

Check out how your local school did on the Idaho State Department of Education’s website.


The number of high-performing schools across Idaho increased this year, according to the most recent results of Idaho’s Five-Star Rating System.

This is the second year the state has reported results under its new system of increased accountability that focuses on multiple measures, including academic growth. The Idaho State Department of Education and State Board of Education worked closely with parents, educators and community members in 2011 to develop the Five-Star Rating System.  

“I am proud to see Idaho schools continue to make academic progress every year. The Five-Star Rating System is a new system of increased accountability that better recognizes the hard work of our teachers and students across the state,” Superintendent Luna said. “These most recent results not only show that a majority of Idaho schools are high-performing but also that a vast majority of Idaho students are performing at or above grade level in reading and mathematics. Our students are ready for the higher expectations we are moving toward next year, and I am eager to see the progress they will make as we continue to raise the bar in education.”

More than half of Idaho’s schools – 385 schools – were rated as Four-Star and Five-Star Schools this year, compared to 379 last year. Another 175 Idaho schools were rated as Three-Star Schools this year, also an increase from last year. Eighty-eight schools statewide were rated as One-Star and Two-Star Schools.

Here is a complete breakdown of the results for the Five-Star Rating System:
  • Five-Star Schools: 91
  • Four-Star Schools: 294
  • Three-Star Schools: 175
  • Two-Star Schools: 66
  • One-Star Schools: 22
Under the Five-Star Rating System, schools with grades K-8 are measured on academic growth (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 are measured based on academic growth, the number of students who reach grade level (or higher) on the ISAT as well as on 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 with a C or better, 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 are 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. 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 focused primarily on whether or not the students in a school passed the ISAT. Idaho received a waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind law last year so the state now can use multiple the multiple measures under the Five-Star Rating System to evaluate a school’s performance.

In addition to the Five-Star Ratings, here are some highlights of the academic results across Idaho this year:
  • 158 schools advanced at least 1 Star Rating this year over last year.
  • 90% of Idaho students scored at or above grade level in reading and 82.2% of students scored at or above grade level in mathematics.
  • 50.8% of students scored advanced (above grade level) in reading, and 43.1% scored advanced (above grade level) in mathematics.
  • The number of high school juniors taking a college entrance exam on Idaho SAT School Day increased from 16,501 test takers last year to 16,921 this year.
The Star Ratings for each school announced this year are set to remain in place for two years as the state transitions to a new assessment. Idaho is working with a consortium of states to develop a new, more robust assessment aligned to Idaho’s higher academic standards. The new assessment will not simply be multiple-choice like the ISAT but will include several question types, including open response and technology-enhanced items. The state will field test the new assessment in Spring 2014 before administering it for accountability purposes for the first time in Spring 2015. Until it is fully administered in Spring 2015, the state will keep the current Star Ratings in place for Idaho schools.