Citing data collection concerns, senators punt on rule

Normally, the legislative rulemaking process is routine.

But there are exceptions and snags. One of these unfolded Thursday afternoon in the Senate Education Committee.

Senators left a rule in limbo — one addressing districts’ “continuous improvement plans.” These annual strategic plans focus on a variety of metrics designed to measure “student readiness and improvement.” Those yardsticks range from kindergartners’ scores on the Idaho Reading Indicator to 11th-graders’ scores on the SAT.

The question Thursday: What are districts expected to do with this data?

Several Republican and Democratic committee members questioned whether the data collection placed an undue burden on districts — and questioned why the districts have to report this data to the State Board of Education.

“The reporting is just killing these districts,” said Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-Inkom.

The continuous improvement plan was designed to use data districts are already collecting, Tracie Bent of the State Board told senators. Districts aren’t required to share the data with the State Board, but they are asked to do so.

In essence, the committee took no action on the rule, which also spells out guidelines for districts’ annual plans to improve early reading scores.

A motion to adopt the rule failed on a 4-5 vote.

The committee didn’t vote on a motion to reject the rule; they put that motion on hold.

The committee is likely to take the rule up again next week.

Legislative committees take up agency rules during the opening weeks of the session. Rules are often arcane, but some education rules directly affect classroom practice, from graduation requirements to academic standards.

If one education committee accepts a rule, it goes into effect — and carries the force of law.

To read this rule, scroll to page 18 of the committee’s docket.