Nineteen schools apply to participate in mastery program

(UPDATED, 3:20 p.m., to reflect the State Department of Education’s release of the 19 applicants.)

Nineteen Idaho schools have applied to implement a local mastery-based education pilot program, state education officials announced Tuesday.

The list of applicants includes several school districts, five alternative schools, three charter schools and traditional public schools.

The largest applicant is the Nampa School District, which estimates it could reach 15,000 K-12 students through its mastery pilot. The smallest is the Three Creek School District, which estimates it would reach 11 kindergarten- through eighth-grade students.

All told, the mastery pilots could reach 23,207 students, if all applicants are selected to participate.

State officials plan to release more news about the program and participating schools next month.

“This is an exciting time in education, and a time where we will begin to see innovative ideas and programs across the state,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a news release.

Ybarra1
Sherri Ybarra

The mastery program was created by the 2015 Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter. Moving to a mastery-based system is among the 20 recommendations issued by Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education in 2013.

Under a mastery-based system, students would no longer advance from grade to grade based on spending one year in a class and receiving a passing grade. Instead, they would only advance once they have demonstrated mastery of all of the concepts covered in a class or grade level.

Under mastery, students would be able to learn at their own pace. Some students will be able to complete coursework early, while others may need more time with a given subject.

State guidelines call for pilot schools to devote the 2016-17 school year to planning and designing the mastery system, working with teachers and trustees. Then, the participating schools would need to commit to implementing their mastery system for four school years, beginning in 2017-18.

This year, the Legislature passed another mastery law capping the number of pilots at 20 — which exceeds the 19 applications the state received by the March 11 deadline.

The Legislature is also spending $1 million of state money to provide grants to the pilot schools.

The pilot schools are scheduled to be announced April 22. Idaho Ed News filed a public records request with the State Department of Education on Tuesday morning seeking the list of the 19 applicants.

State officials originally did not reveal the list of applicants, but supplied the names in response to Idaho Ed News’ public records request.

Here’s the list of the applicants, and the grades they would serve:

  • The Atlas School, Middleton, alternative school, grades 9-12.
  • Union High School, Nampa, alternative school, grades 9-12.
  • Silver Creek High School, Hailey, alternative school, grades 9-12.
  • Rivervue Academy, Vallivue School District, alternative school, grades 6-8.
  • West Ada Academies, alternative school, grades 9-12.
  • Three Creek School District, grades K-8.
  • Venture High School, Coeur d’Alene, grades 9-12.
  • Meadows Valley School, New Meadows, grades K-12.
  • Wilder School District, grades K-12.
  • Notus School District, grades K-12.
  • Kuna School District, grades K-12.
  • Bonneville School District, grades 6-8.
  • Nampa School District, grades K-12.
  • Moscow School District, grades K-12.
  • Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School, grades 6-12.
  • Salmon School District, grades K-12.
  • Pocatello Community Charter School, grades K-8.
  • American Heritage / North Valley Academy, charter school, grades K-12.
  • Meridian Technical Charter High School, grades 9-12.

Who will review the applications?

Department officials on Tuesday announced the formation of a 25-member Idaho Mastery Education Network review team headed up by Kelly Brady, the department’s mastery-based education director.

“Our review team will look at the 19 applicants over the next several weeks to determine how we move forward,” Ybarra said. “Those schools and districts that are selected will begin to pave the way for mastery-based education in Idaho.”

Members of the review team include:

  • Kelly Brady, Idaho State Department of Education.
  • John Branam, The Learning Accelerator.
  • Kelly Cross, Boise State University.
  • Duane Dicky, Idaho Supreme Court.
  • Marita Diffenbaugh, Idaho Digital Learning Academy.
  • Melyssa Ferro. Idaho Teacher of the Year, Caldwell School District.
  • Julie Fisher, Christensen Institute.
  • Marybeth Flachbart, Education Northwest.
  • Mary Gardiner, University of Idaho.
  • Howard Gauthier, Idaho State University.
  • Rod Gramer, Idaho Business for Education.
  • Dale Kleiner, AdvancED.
  • Jesse Moyer, Knowledge Works.
  • Alissa Peltzman, Achieve.
  • Sherawn Reberry, Idaho Digital Learning Academy.
  • Frank Robinson, Idaho Education Association.
  • Carrie Schneider, Getting Smart.
  • Bethani Studebaker, Northwest Nazarene University.
  • Eric Studebaker, College of Western Idaho.
  • Chris Sturgis, Competency Works.
  • Penny Tenuto, University of Idaho.
  • Dave Wheat, retired public school administrator.
  • Katie Wilczak, Stanford University.
  • Matt Williams, Knowledge Works.
  • Debra Yates, The College of Idaho.