Education

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

An informational hearing at the state capitol Wednesday centered on early childhood education.

The Senate Education Committee was scheduled to only hear about kindergarten and other early education resources for 20 minutes. However, questions from senators pushed the meeting to close to an hour.

Idaho Ed News

Sen. Dean Mortimer has a $20.3 million plan to help schools cover health insurance costs.

Education groups are split on the idea. Depending on who you listen to, Mortimer’s plan could help schools attract and keep teachers. Or, it could exacerbate Idaho’s teacher shortage.

At some point, the Senate Education Committee will vote on the idea.

Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, uses some complicated math to construct his Senate Bill 1096.

vote, election
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Despite a concerted advertising campaign by the College of Western Idaho to pass a $180 million bond, the measure failed on the November ballot. 

Now, CWI is examining the loss. The bond would have been used to construct a new CWI campus in Boise and expand the college’s footprint in Nampa.

AP

Betsy DeVos was confirmed Tuesday to be the Secretary of Education by the U.S. Senate. The newest cabinet member is a billionaire donor to conservative causes. In Michigan, DeVos was a proponent of vouchers for school choice, allowing students to use taxpayer dollars to fund tuition at private, for-profit and religious schools.

Nancy Gregory, Board Chair of the Boise School District, says she was “disheartened at the confirmation.”

Idaho Ed News

House Speaker Scott Bedke has joined 140 GOP officials in endorsing Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s controversial choice for education secretary.

Bedke co-signed a letter calling DeVos “an advocate and ally for all children.” The letter was signed by state school superintendents, lieutenant governors and legislators from all 50 states. Bedke was the lone Idahoan to sign on — and said he did so at the urging of the Republican National Committee.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho’s average teacher salary has increased by slightly more than 5 percent since 2015, when the state adopted a five-year plan to boost pay.

Like many averages, this number tells only part of the story.

In 26 districts and charters across Idaho, average salaries increased by more than 10 percent. In 19 districts and charters, the average actually decreased — which happens when experienced teachers retire or resign, and entry-level teachers take their place.

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney / Flickr Creative Commons

Many schools throughout the Treasure Valley have been closed since last week’s snow storm. For high school students, the extra days off after the holiday break have been both good and bad.

Boise High science teacher Alison Ward says in her 11 years at the school she’s never experienced so many snow days. She says she and her colleagues are doing what they can to adapt.

“I think most of us are handling it with a sense of humor," says Ward. "Definitely we appreciate that our district has everyone’s safety in mind.”

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

When they convene next week, lawmakers in the Idaho Legislature plan to take a closer look at teacher evaluations.

For years, Idaho has required an annual evaluation to use as a tool for educators to improve their performance. In 2015, lawmakers decided to tie those evaluations to teacher raises. Called the Career Ladder, this initiative spends $250 million over five years to boost teacher pay. But to climb that ladder - teachers must meet certain performance benchmarks in order to earn a raise.

Idaho Ed News

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.

Idaho Ed News

In Erika Carpenter’s second-grade class, a handful of students are working on the basics of reading. They are sounding out letters, one by one, in small words: real words and nonsense words alike.

Down the hall at Boise’s Koelsch Elementary School, kindergartners are working on similar drills. The second-graders are trying to catch up — and there is no way to rush them along. The best way to bridge the gap is through constant and time-consuming repetition.

Idaho Department of Education

This adorable penguin was drawn by Sawtooth Elementary fifth-grader Kylee Thiel. It was submitted from Twin Falls along with other pictures from around the state in the Idaho State Department of Education's Holiday Card Contest.

Idaho Schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said Thiel's artwork was the winner. It will be featured on the Department's holiday greeting card. Thiel will also get a certificate and copies of the card to share with family and friends.

Metro Community Services

A group of 10 high school students are learning building techniques as they put together a tiny house in Wilder. As Samantha Wright reports, a partnership designed to teach kids new skills is behind the project.

Idaho Ed News

As Idaho embarks on a new multimillion dollar attempt to help at-risk readers, recent test results tell an old story.

Once again, more than four in 10 kindergarten through third-grade students showed up for fall classes reading below grade level. This translates to 34,949 students statewide.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho’s supplemental levy bill has hit an all-time record this year.

Property taxpayers will shell out $188.8 million in voter-approved supplemental levies in 2016-17 — up from $186.6 million in 2015-16.

The previous high-water mark was $188.1 million in 2013-14, as Idaho schools were digging out from the aftereffects of the Great Recession.

But the rising supplemental levy bill comes after Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature approved 7.4 percent funding increases for K-12 for the past two successive years.

Middleton School District

Between 2006 and 2015, Middleton Heights Elementary placed girls and boys in separate classrooms, based on an education theory that the sexes learn differently.

But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, this was a violation of Title IX, and the Department of Education recently agreed.

“Well the issue is definitely not new," says Leo Morales from the ACLU of Idaho, "and it’s an issue that the ACLU across the country has been looking at for years.”

Boise State University, campus
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Since the presidential election last week, colleges and universities have been dealing with reports of verbal and physical altercations between some Donald Trump supporters and other students.

A 180-million-dollar bond to fund a two-pronged expansion for the College of Western Idaho failed to get the necessary supermajority it needed to pass at the polls Tuesday. The 25-year bond would have gone toward growing CWI’s main campus in Nampa as well as establishing a presence in Boise.

In order to pass, the measure – which would have raised taxes – needed a 67 percent approval rating. Instead, it got 57 percent. The defeat means the college’s trustees now have to consider their next step for the growing institution. 

Wade Morgen / Flickr Creative Commons

While Idaho’s college go-on rates continue to lag, Idaho’s college enrollment numbers are trending upward.

From spring 2015 to spring 2016, Idaho college enrollment increased by 3.2 percent, according to a National Student Clearinghouse report.

The Idaho numbers defy the national trends; overall, enrollment dropped by 1.3 percent in this same time period. Idaho’s 3.2 percent increase also ranked fourth in the nation, trailing only New Hampshire, Utah and Arizona.

Idaho Ed News

The state has divvied up its $11.25 million earmarked to boost elementary reading skills.

And once again, the payments illustrate the scope of Idaho’s literacy challenge.

This fall, Idaho school districts and charter schools will receive money in hopes of helping nearly 37,000 kindergarten through third-grade students catch up in reading.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho students topped the national average in a 2015 standardized science test.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress tested fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders in science — and on Thursday morning, NAEP released state results for fourth and eighth grades. NAEP tests are not given in all schools in Idaho or elsewhere, but are instead administered to a sample of U.S. schools.

The Idaho highlights:

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