Kevin Richert

Idaho Education News Reporter

Kevin Richert is an education reporter with Idaho Education News, a nonprofit news source focused on education policy in Idaho.

Idaho Education News

In terms of geography and culture, Twin Falls can scarcely be farther removed from Afghanistan or Iran, Burma or Nepal.

Yet in schools such as Twin Falls’ Lincoln Elementary School, in a portable building abutting a blacktop playground, newly arrived refugee students begin their long and stark transition to American schools.

Idaho Education News

Some refugee students at Boise’s Hillside Junior High School remember the schools in their homelands — where teachers hit their students, or where teachers feared being hit by students.

Then there are the refugee students who have spent little time in any classroom.

“You have to learn how to be a student,” said Rita Hogan, a teacher in Boise’s English Language Development program. “And that’s tough, when you’re a seventh-grader, and you’re learning algebra.”

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Idaho’s child immunization rates improved in 2015, reaching a five-year high.

And Department of Health and Welfare officials don’t know what to make of the numbers yet.

 

In 2015, 86.7 percent of Idaho students were considered “adequately immunized,” according to Health and Welfare spreadsheets obtained this week by Idaho Education News. The 2014 figure was 85.6 percent.

Idaho Education News

Idaho continues to languish well behind its lofty college completion goals, according to a newly released national study.

On top of that, Idaho’s numbers rank No. 46 in the nation.

In 2014, 37.7 percent of Idaho’s adults held a postsecondary degree or certificate, the Lumina Foundation wrote in an annual report on college completion rates. The national completion rate was 45.3 percent.

Idaho Education News

State Sen. Brent Hill can remember a time when it was difficult to get a K-12 budget through the Legislature.

Not that this requires a long memory. It was only three years ago when the Senate killed the first version of a K-12 spending plan — the result of an unusual public showdown between legislative budget-writers and the Senate Education Committee.

Idaho Education News

A report tracking $16.7 million in teacher “leadership premiums” — compiled by the State Department of Education and presented to two legislative committees — is fraught with math errors.

The report came under some harsh scrutiny in the House Education Committee Thursday morning. A State Department of Education official acknowledged the errors in the report, but said it was impractical to doublecheck the schools’ math.

Idaho Education News

The state has been negotiating with two Idaho Education Network vendors since October — in hopes of settling more than $6 million in legal claims.

But when the state absorbed another resounding defeat in court Tuesday, the negotiations got derailed.

“Right now we’re in a little bit of a cooling-off period,” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill told Idaho Education News Thursday. “People want to go back to their own corner.”

Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Supreme Court sided with a district judge Tuesday, voiding the contract for the Idaho Education Network broadband project.

The court’s unanimous ruling could have $25 million worth of implications for the state — and its taxpayers. Idaho could be forced to write off or give back federally administered fees that were supposed to offset the costs of the high school Internet system.

Idaho Education News

Last time around, it took lawsuits to force Idaho to rewrite its school funding formula.

Then it took a ton of new money to seal the deal. The spending increase was huge — and today, it would take more than $350 million to match it.

That was 1994.

Now, fast forward to 2016.

Idaho Education News

A year ago at this time, a STEM Action Center wasn’t even so much as a proposal.

Angela Hemingway was working with the State Department of Education. She was “deep in the weeds” of assessment and accountability issues, and the idea of a STEM center wasn’t really on her mind.

In 2016, the brand-new STEM Action Center could get a big cash infusion from the Legislature. Hemingway, the center’s executive director, is fielding questions from lawmakers about how the money would be used.

Idaho Education News

Idaho has one of the nation’s strongest teacher evaluation policies, according to a national report issued Tuesday.

Idaho requires annual teacher evaluations, a national “best practice,” says the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The group also gave Idaho conditional praise for using student achievement as a teacher evaluation metric.

Idaho Education News

 

Linda Clark has resigned abruptly — and effective immediately — as superintendent of the West Ada School District.

Idaho Education News

Lawmakers received $5 million worth of good news Tuesday morning. The state’s bill for school broadband could come in well below budget.

One reason for the savings: School districts have been able to tap into federally administered dollars that had been cut off during the Idaho Education Network broadband contract dispute.

Idaho Education News

The debate over Idaho Core Standards could be headed to a federal courtroom — with a focus on the tests aligned to the new standards.

On Monday, a group of 10 plaintiffs filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, seeking to “cease implementation” of Idaho’s version of Common Core and throw out the state’s testing contract with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Idaho Education News

Child immunization rates are low in the silver mining community of Wallace, and school district superintendent Bob Ranells is well aware of it.

There is no simple, single explanation.

School nurses are expected to manually load data for every individual student — and, as Ranells puts it, nurses went into their profession to help people, not to sit in front of a computer.

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