Reading scores hint at urban-rural achievement gap

Posted at 11:40 AM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 13:40:11-04

This week’s education news:

An achievement gap? One year into the state’s $11.25 million effort to help at-risk readers, scores improved statewide. But while scores aren’t available for every school district and charter school, the numbers indicate a growing gap. Urban school districts and charter schools generally showed improvement, while dozens of rural districts lost ground.

ESSA plan passes a milestone. For weeks, education leaders have wrangled over the wording and the details of Idaho’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. But on Thursday, the State Board of Education approved the 84-page plan without debate. Even so, two State Board members are talking about contingencies, in case the feds  reject Idaho’s plan or request changes.

Pay raises for veteran teachers. In other news from the State Board meeting, board members signed off on a plan to provide $4,000 premiums for “master teachers” who pass a lengthy application process. “This plan isn’t a gimme in any sense,” said State Board member Debbie Critchfield. It’s unclear how many teachers will get the premiums — and consequently, how much the plan will cost taxpayers.

Another 60 percent goal. The state’s higher education task force is floating a new 60 percent yardstick; the group wants 60 percent of Idaho students to meet college-readiness benchmarks on the SAT in 2022-23. That’s a big lift, since only 32 percent of Idaho high school juniors hit the benchmarks in April. Gov. Butch Otter put together the task force to focus in on another ambitious goal — getting 60 percent of Idaho’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a postsecondary degree or certificate.

Summer of discontent? The Boise School District is thinking about moving up the start of the 2018-19 school year. The mid-August start would allow students to finish fall semester work and take fall finals before the holiday season. The district is getting some heat for the proposal — from a group headed by the owners of a Meridian water park.


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.