State's student improvement targets come under fire

This week’s education news:

Setting the targets.  As Idaho continues to rewrite its plan to comply with federal education law, another contentious issue has emerged. The state needs to set targets for student improvement and proficiency, and critics say the state is aiming too high. They warn against unrealistic and unattainable goals that educators will not take seriously. 

‘We deserve a great school system in this city.’ Paula Kellerer is no stranger to Nampa or the Nampa School District. The former deputy district superintendent and Northwest Nazarene University dean took over as superintendent on July 1. Her top priorities will be student achievement and supporting Nampa teachers — two objectives that were overshadowed by an ugly financial crisis that left the district staring at a $5.3 million shortfall. 

No deal in Caldwell. District and union leaders met Monday, but couldn’t come to terms on a contract for the 2017-18 school year. Superintendent Shalene French isn’t talking publicly, at the urging of the federal mediator who will bring the parties back to the bargaining table on Aug. 30. One sticking point is the district’s teacher salary framework, particularly for Caldwell’s veteran teachers. 

A dual credit dilemma? Idaho pays high school students to enroll in dual-credit classes — allowing them to rack up some college credits before they go to college. But are students taking classes that will help them get started towards a degree? The State Board of Education isn’t convinced — and in August, the board might take another look at tightening up dual-credit guidelines.

 A Book and a Bite. At Kuna’s Reed Elementary School, students are not taking the summer off from reading. About 150 kids of all ages are taking part in “A Book and a Bite,” a weekly program piloted by the Treasure Valley Education Partnership. Each Thursday, students get a free lunch, select a book to read and participate in educational activities. 

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org.) Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.

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