Idaho Schools Perform Poorly, Or Pretty Well Depending On The Measurement System

Aug 31, 2012

Idaho’s department of education released two sets of results Friday providing different views of how the state’s schools are doing. The first is the annual Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, report. AYP is based on testing goals set by the state but those are largely dictated by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Under AYP a school either passes or fails, and failure comes with penalties.

Judging by that measure Idaho’s schools perform poorly.  Only about 60 percent of the state’s 648 schools made AYP. Only about 40 percent of districts passed muster. And all of the state’s large districts failed, including Boise, Meridian, and Blaine County.

Critics of No Child Left behind say under the AYP system most schools and districts in the country are labeled failures. That’s part of the reason states have rebelled and the Obama administration started to grant waivers. So far 33 states have waivers; Idaho is still waiting for one.

As part of the waiver application states had to devise ways to measure performance to replace AYP. Idaho’s plan is to use a five star rating system. That’s the second set of results Idaho’s State Department of Education released Friday, the trial run of the star system.

Seventy eight of the state’s schools got five stars, 301 got four and 170 are three star schools. Ninety nine scored one or two stars. Schools in those two lowest brackets have to draw up improvement plans and will receive intense scrutiny from the state until they improve.

The star system won’t become official until Idaho receives its waiver from No Child Left Behind. State education officials express confidence that will happen by early autumn.