Idaho Ed News

Idaho Ed News

Schools chief Sherri Ybarra is making it official, formally launching her re-election bid today.

Ybarra, a Republican from Mountain Home, was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014.

She first told Idaho Education News in a videotaped interview in December 2015 that she would seek a second term in 2018.

Idaho Ed News

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.

Mark Ramsay / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s 2016 college “go-on” numbers are up slightly, compared to a similar snapshot from 2015.

But even if the numbers are improving — and that’s still open to interpretation — they also show that Idaho has a long way to go to meet its ambitious college graduation goals.

Idaho Ed News

Idaho’s higher education task force could set a number of ambitious goals — including a marked improvement in SAT scores.

One of the task force’s work groups wants to see 60 percent of Idaho’s high school juniors meet the SAT’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks by 2022-23.

That’s a big lift. In April, only 32 percent of Idaho high school juniors met the SAT benchmarks.

Erik Schepers / Flickr

Reading scores among the state's youngest students are up a year after a pricey literacy initiative was launched. The State Department of Education released spring reading scores this week.

The data reveals more students between kindergarten and third grade are reading at the appropriate level and fewer kids are lagging behind.

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Idaho high school juniors are more likely to miss the two “college-readiness” benchmarks on the SAT than hit both benchmarks.

Only 32 percent of juniors met the SAT benchmarks, down from 33 percent a year ago.

Idaho released the April SAT scores last week, and the news isn’t encouraging. Idaho’s free “SAT Day” allows high school juniors a chance to see if they’re ready for college. SAT Day also takes a snapshot of Idaho high schoolers — 13 months before graduation day.

Idaho Ed News

Based on the experience in other states, it could take three to five years for Idaho to rewrite its school funding formula.

And based on Tuesday’s hearing, a panel of Idaho lawmakers doesn’t seem to be much interested in a rush job.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho college tuition and fees have increased more than fivefold since 1980, when cost figures are adjusted for inflation.

That’s the conclusion from a new report issued by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, a nonpartisan budget think tank.

Idaho Ed News

Districts and charter schools made up less than a quarter of the school days lost to the severe winter of 2016-17, according to Idaho Education News research.

Administrators also used longer school days to make up for lost learning hours — and comply with state classroom time requirements.

Idaho Ed News

In 2015-16, legislators earmarked $16.1 million to reward teachers who take on leadership roles.

Lawmakers want these ongoing “leadership premiums” to go to select teachers who take on added responsibilities. Yet 19 districts gave a share of the money to at least 90 percent of their teaching staff.

Lawmakers also wanted eligible teachers to receive a significant bonus — writing an $850 minimum into state statute. Eighteen districts and charter schools awarded smaller premiums anyway. The smallest was $75.

Idaho Ed News

For school districts across Idaho, a $709 million election day looms.

At least 45 of Idaho’s 115 school districts will seek bond issues, plant facilities levies or supplemental levies on March 14, according to Idaho Education News research. The bottom line: At least $709.2 million in ballot measures are on ballot.

Under Idaho law, school districts can run ballot measures on four election days: in March, May, August and November.

Why the logjam on March 14? Timing is certainly a factor.

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.

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

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.

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