Schools receive mediocre grades in latest Boise State survey

Idahoans give the state’s schools a mediocre report card, and parents of school children appear to have deeper concerns about the education system, according to survey results released Monday.

Sixty-five percent of respondents rated Idaho’s schools as “fair” or “poor,” according to Boise State University’s annual public policy survey. Those numbers mirror previous results.

“The story is essentially unchanged,” said Jeffrey Lyons, survey research director for Boise State’s Idaho Policy Institute.

During a Statehouse news conference Monday, Lyons pointed out two troubling results — which are probably related:

  • Younger respondents are more likely to rate the school system poorly. Newer arrivals and Democrats are more likely to rate schools poorly, but those splits aren’t as strong as the split based on age, Lyons said.
  • The same goes when parents of children under the age of 18 rate their local schools. Twenty-eight percent of these parents gave their local schools a grade of “poor,” compared to 15 percent of respondents who don’t have children under age 18.

As in previous years, respondents tend to rate their local schools somewhat more favorably than the education system as a whole. But even so, 49 percent of Idahoans give their local schools a grade of “fair” or “poor.”

Education also remains a high-priority issue for many Idahoans.

Sixteen percent of Idahoans say education is the most important issue facing the state. Only growth rated higher. Fueled largely by responses from the Treasure Valley, 19 percent of Idahoans listed growth as the most pressing issue facing the state.

On other issues that relate to state government, nearly 43 percent of respondents said the state’s budget should be increased — an increase of about 6 percentage points from a year ago. At the same time, 26 percent of respondents said their taxes are too high — also an increase of about 6 percentage points.

About 1,000 respondents took part in the Idaho Public Policy Survey, conducted in December. In order to reach a representative demographic sample, Boise State surveyed Idahoans over land lines and cell phones, and used random email invitations and text messages to reach about a third of survey respondents. The survey has a 3 percent margin for error.

More reading: From Don Day at, a look at what Idahoans had to say about growth issues.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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