Reading scores improved in the first year of Idaho’s $11.25 million “literacy initiative,” but most scores fell short of the goals set by local educators.
More than two-thirds of spring 2017 test scores failed to meet the benchmark goals school leaders set in the fall of 2016, according to an Idaho Education News analysis of test scores and local reading plans.
Schools aren’t penalized for falling short on their benchmarks — nor are they rewarded for meeting them. But the benchmarks provide the state one more yardstick as it embarks on a multiyear effort to provide extra help for at-risk readers.
However, some districts and charters didn’t set benchmarks. Several districts didn’t turn in reading plans at all — leaving their share of 2017-18 literacy money in limbo.
While some schools set ambitious improvement goals, a handful set goals that were actually lower than their preceding years’ reading scores. And the State Board of Education has no authority to challenge these goals.
THE LITERACY INITIATIVE, SO FAR
The 2016 Legislature addressed one of Idaho’s pervasive education challenges. Each fall, some 35,000 kindergartners through third-graders show up for school unable to read at grade level. Political and education leaders agree on one point; if students aren’t reading at grade level at the end of third grade, they are likely to struggle throughout the rest of their school years.