State Board to spearhead accountability effort

The State Board of Education will put together a new school accountability system.

The change won’t happen overnight, however. The goal is to field-test the system in 2016-17 before rolling it out statewide the following year.

The new system comes in response to the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law passed last month. The law, which replaces the 2002 No Child Left Behind education law, gives states expanded authority to create accountability measures.

Debbie Critchfield

“We now have more flexibility to develop a system that assesses academic progress, with multiple indicators, and directs resources to districts that need additional support,” State Board member Debbie Critchfield said.

However, Idaho will still operate through August under its old No Child Left Behind waiver, which allows Idaho to develop a new accountability system during 2016-17.

Idaho has been without a school accountability measure since 2013, when the state last updated its five-star school ratings.

Here’s the State Board’s news release:

The Idaho State Board of Education has charged its Accountability Oversight Committee to develop a new, comprehensive accountability system for Idaho’s public schools. The new plan is being developed in response to the expanded state and local autonomy in public education that has been granted by passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The new statewide accountability system will measure educational progress among public school districts, individual public schools and public charter schools throughout the state. The role of the current Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) developed by Smarter Balanced will also be reviewed to consider when and how the state’s current standardized test should be administered to students and used as a measure of their academic achievement, in addition to being an indicator for school accountability.

“This is an opportunity for Idaho to develop a new accountability system that allows us to review school progress based on state needs and priorities,” said Debbie Critchfield, member of the Idaho State Board of Education and its Accountability Oversight Committee. “The federal government’s role in education is reduced under the new law, and we now have more flexibility to develop a system that assesses academic progress, with multiple indicators, and directs resources to districts that need additional support,” Critchfield continued.

Under ESSA, states must have an accountability system in place for the 2017-18 school year. By developing an accountability system now, the Board can test it during the 2016-17 school year, allowing school districts to provide feedback before full implementation. The Committee will deliver a progress report to the Board at its meeting next month, followed by a draft of the system at the June Board meeting and a roll-out to school districts in August. Input from education stakeholder groups and the public will be solicited during development and testing of the system.

“This is an aggressive timeline that will provide us an opportunity to test the new accountability system with school districts next school year,” said Critchfield.

The state’s current accountability system, referred to as the Five Star Rating System, was developed in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act and was last used to review Idaho public school academic progress in 2013.

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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