Idaho Education News created a new website to provide transparency on Idaho’s progress toward its own education goals.
Our mission is to push for government transparency and data-driven conversations about improving education for all of Idaho’s children. The idea behind the easy-to-use website is to help parents, educators and patrons better understand the expectations and goals of those who lead Idaho’s public education system. (The state has a similar website.)
To promote the website, Idaho Education News mailed postcards to thousands of homes. The postcards serve as a “report card on progress” on Idaho education goals and displays highlights of the website’s complete report.
The goals aren’t new — we’ve been reporting on their creation and implementation for four years. We’ve also reported regularly on the progress toward meeting those goals. The website is just another way to share out that information.
The goals — and yearly targets toward reaching the goals — were created in 2017 after statewide hearings when the public and education stakeholder groups had the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Eventually, the goals and targets were approved by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra; Linda Clark, the State Board of Education’s president at the time, then-Gov. Butch Otter; the State Board and the U.S. Department of Education.
The goals call for improving test scores and closing achievement gaps over six years. The idea is reduce the percentage of students not scoring proficient by one third by 2022.
Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, voiced his concern in 2017. “To me, we haven’t talked about the main issue here: How are we going to reach those goals? I haven’t heard any kind of plan on how to reach them.”
But Marilyn Whitney, the SDE’s deputy for communications and policy, said officials and stakeholders tried to strike the right balance when developing the goals. They wanted the goals to be realistic, while setting high expectations.
Idaho has failed to meet the 2018 and 2019 targets in math and English and 2018 targets for high school graduation rates. Plus, Idaho has slid farther away from reaching the 2022 goals.
“It’s a very big concern,” Clark said recently. “We, as a board, are committed and want to make sure the districts and classrooms have the kind of resources they need.”
Idaho also is behind at meeting its goals for degree attainment and reading proficiency for the youngest students.
The State Department of Education and the State Board provided all the data appearing on the site. For more details and data on Idaho’s ESSA plan, go to IdahoSchools.org.
Please contact editor Jennifer Swindell with questions, comments or concerns at jswindell@idahoEdNews.org