State Board approves continued use of student surveys

POCATELLO — Idaho will move forward with its plan to use student feedback as part of its school accountability system.

On Wednesday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the continued use of student surveys. Beginning in 2018-19, the surveys will be used to try to help measure school quality and learning climate in Idaho schools.

Third- through eighth-graders participated in the first round of surveys in 2017-18. However, the State Board asked to revisit the issue before the 2018-19 school year — with the possibility of extending the surveys to more students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.

State Department of Education director of assessment and accountability Karlynn Laraway walked the board through preliminary results from the initial surveys.

About 65 percent of students reported being “committed” to the survey’s three areas of focus: behavior, cognition and emotion. Average scores dropped in higher grades: 73 percent of third- through fifth-graders reporting being committed, compared to 58 percent of sixth- through eighth-graders.

State Board member Don Soltman asked if the SDE had developed a benchmark to measure the scores. “I can’t tell if these scores are good or bad.”

The SDE has no benchmark, Laraway said, but a clearer picture of what the data means will emerge as more surveys are conducted.

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The State Board Wednesday approved additional surveys for high school students, parents, school staffers and other stakeholders.

Laraway said the SDE and State Board will work with the Idaho Education Association, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s parent advisory group and other stakeholder groups to get these surveys out in the future.

Click here and scroll to attachments one through seven to view the newly approved surveys.

A lighter moment from Wednesday’s meeting

Board members presented Soltman with balloons and a bag of peanuts, to honor his perfect attendance record. Recently, Idaho Education News reported State Board members’ attendance records; Soltman has not missed a meeting between 2015 and 2018.

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