Education news from around Idaho

Priest River Lamanna High School bids farewell to principal

Principal Joseph Kren managed to hold his last graduation ceremony at Priest River Lamanna High School in person, despite a global pandemic.

On July 11, the Spartan class of 2020 celebrated a socially distanced ceremony in the bleachers of a local stadium, wearing sunglasses and bright orange stoles that shone like fire in the sun.

“It was an amazing way to go out,” said Kren, who worked in Idaho for 34 years. “The kids did great.”

State Department of Education names new director of Assessment and Accountability

Kevin Whitman, a state coordinator for the State Department of Education’s assessment and accountability branch will take over the lead role on the team on July 26.

Kevin Whitman

Whitman replaces former director of assessment and accountability Karlynn Laraway who now runs the department’s communications team.

Whitman has worked for the SDE for four years, first as a coordinator for the National Assessment of Education Progress test and later on the team that oversees Idaho’s compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Whitman worked for the Social Security Administration and as a senior research officer for Pew Charitable Trusts before joining the SDE. He has a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University.

Manhattan Institute recognizes Idaho Advanced Opportunities program

The Manhattan Institute, a New-York based think-tank, highlighted Idaho’s Advanced Opportunties program in a May publication calling the program an example of how states can “improve the quality of high school instruction and expand post secondary access and attainment.”

Idaho’s Advanced Opportunities program sets aside more than $4,000 for every secondary student in Idaho to put toward dual-credit, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and state-approved career-technical education courses. The program was approved in 2016 and has seen increased usage each school year. Last year, the SDE reported that Idaho students took 70,295 advanced courses with the help of those funds.

“Idaho is the only state that puts money for dual enrollment directly into students’ hands,” the report says.

Applications open for Rural Tech Project grants

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding $100,000 to five projects that help rural students advance their technology education through “competency-based distance learning.”

High schools and local education agencies can apply for the Rural Tech Project by submitting a proposal for a program to the department by Oct. 8. Five finalists will share a $500,000 prize and continue to phase two of the project, creating the program and documenting learning outcomes through summer of 2023. A judging panel will award an additional $100,000 to one of the five finalists.

“By advancing technology skills development, rural communities can help their students prepare for rewarding career opportunities,” said a news release. “This open innovation challenge will empower educators with resources to create technology education programs that are customized for their students and local needs.” 

To learn more, or apply, click here. 

Sami Edge

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