Idaho receives solid grades on the ‘nation's report card'

Posted at 1:27 PM, Apr 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-13 15:27:23-04

This week’s education headlines:


NAEP scores. Idaho’s scores remained stable — and in line with the rest of the nation — on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. One bright spot: Idaho’s eighth-graders ranked No. 8 in the nation on the reading test. NAEP is administered to a cross-section of students across the nation every two years, which allows experts to look at trends over time and compare state results.

Superintendents’ candidates square off. The three challengers to state superintendent Sherri Ybarra laid out their goals and priorities at a forum in Boise Tuesday evening. Republican Jeff Dillon and Democrats Allen Humble and Cindy Wilson differed on school safety issues, and agreed in principle on the need for pre-kindergarten. They didn’t take many swipes at Ybarra — who did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict.

Ybarra touts her record. On Thursday, Ybarra was back in Boise, addressing a room full of educators and administrators and making a feisty case for her record. Ybarra said the new NAEP scores debunk the notion that Idaho’s schools are performing poorly, and also celebrated a minuscule .01 percent increase in the graduation rate. “It might be a smidge or a smooch or whatever you want to refer to it as. But an increase is an increase.”

Charter schools face sanctions. Thirteen charter schools will need to improve over the next three years if they want to keep their doors open. The state’s Public Charter School Commission is imposing the sanctions, focused largely on improving test scores and graduation rates. “It is important … that we strike the right balance between ensuring that the schools we authorize offer high-quality options to Idaho students,” commission Director Tamara Baysinger said.

Whatever became of the higher ed task force? Gov. Butch Otter hoped a new higher education task force would replicate the success of his K-12 task force, which laid the groundwork for a five-year plan for public schools. But the higher ed recommendations received little attention from the 2018 Legislature, and now the plan will fall into the lap of the next governor. Otter still didn’t come away empty-handed; for one thing, legislators followed the task force’s lead and expanded Idaho’s college scholarship offerings.


Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( 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.