Otter signs off on new statewide reading test

The battle over Idaho’s reading test came to a quiet conclusion Friday.

With little fanfare, Gov. Butch Otter signed House Bill 717, the rewritten budget for state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s office.

The budget bill frees up $550,000 to roll out a new statewide reading test in 2018-19.

The signing comes as little surprise, since Otter had signaled his support for continuing the statewide assessment for kindergarten through third-grade students.

Over the final weeks of the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers had wrangled over the topic. Several key legislators said it was premature to continue with the rollout of the new test — which is now being piloted at more than 50 grade schools across the state. They had succeeded in zeroing out funding for the new test, as they pushed for the idea of allowing school districts to choose their own assessments.

The House pushed back on March 19, voting down a budget for Ybarra’s office which omitted funding for the statewide test.

That prompted the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to go back to work and rewrite Ybarra’s budget. The new version passed both houses overwhelmingly last week.

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Otter signed several education-related bills Friday, including a law to prosecute school threats made over social media, a law to create a college scholarship for adult students, a bill requiring high schools to offer a computer science elective course and the 2018-19 budget for colleges and universities.

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