While Idaho distributes most of its K-12 dollars based on student population, its literacy dollars are an exception.
The state uses Idaho Reading Indicator test scores to determine where to spend its $11.25 million in literacy money.
In other words, districts and charter schools with more at-risk readers receive a bigger share of the money. And that means the dollar figures offer some insight into the schools that struggle with low reading scores — and the demographics that coincide with these low scores.
Let’s walk through the math and the demographics, in three steps.
STEP ONE: TALLYING THE AT-RISK READERS
The state tallies its at-risk reader numbers by looking at three years of results on the IRI, a standardized test given each year in kindergarten through third grade. The state looks at the number of students who scored below grade level on the fall IRI, and then computes a three-year average for each district and charter school.
That’s the source of a number that came up throughout the debate over the 2016 literacy initiative. Based on the past three years of IRI scores, 36,904 K-3 students showed up for school without the skills they need to read at grade level.
From here, the state parceled out its 2016-17 literacy budget, using some simple division. The state took the $11.25 million and divided it against 36,904, that statewide three-year average. That comes out to $304.85 for every at-risk reader.
Districts and charters then received their share based on the three-year averages. For instance, a district or charter with 100 at-risk readers would receive $30,485.