The State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to waive completing a college entrance exam as a high school graduation requirement for the class of 2021.
Board members said they waived the state requirement for students who will graduate at the end of this school year because of continued disruptions and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
While they waived the state requirement, board members said local schools or districts could elect to keep the requirement in place if they prefer and if testing is available locally.
This marks the second school year in a row that the board has waived the requirement.
“This is something we’ve been hearing and discussing with not only school districts, but students and parents and I believe this is the appropriate action given the environment and circumstance,” State Board President Debbie Critchfield said during the six-hour remote meeting.
The State Board had previously waived a college entrance exam as an admissions requirement for Idaho colleges and universities. This week’s action pertains to high school graduation requirements.
The state pays about $1 million each year for all students to be able to take the SAT test for free. The state cancelled a free SAT Day in April due to the pandemic but offered SAT Day in-person in October.
Students must take the SAT in-person at school. There is no take home or virtual option.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said because of disruptions and school closures she supported waiving the testing requirements. Students may not have been able to take a college entrance exam if their school was closed and was supposed to serve as a testing center or if students were excluded because they were in quarantine or otherwise unable to test in-person on Oct. 14.
Most of this year’s seniors would have taken the test last April, when the test was cancelled.
The State Board only waived the requirements for this year’s graduates. As of today, the class of 2022 will still need to take a college entrance exam to graduate from high school. Although the state pays for the SAT, other college entrance exams, including the ACT, also satisfy the requirement.
Another free SAT Day is scheduled for April 13, 2021.
State Board approves new higher education programs
Boise State University cybersecurity institute
In other action Thursday, the State Board voted unanimously to approve Boise State University’s proposal for the new Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity.
Tony Roark, Boise State’s interim provost, said the new institute is designed to help meet the demand for a cybersecurity workforce and to establish Boise as a cybersecurity education and research base.
Boise State President Marlene Tromp said she saw an opportunity for cybersecurity when she first moved to Boise State last year.
“It’s a clean industry that can allow people to train and then work from home in their hometowns,” Tromp said. “For a person who grew up in a small town in Wyoming, it really matters a great deal to me that we give people an opportunity to train in fields that will allow them to give back to their economy.”
Boise State’s cybersecurity institute will connect with the the University of Idaho, Idaho State University and the new stateside cybersecurity initiative.
Lewis-Clark State College’s first master’s program
The State Board voted unanimously to approve the first master’s program for Lewis-Clark State College.
The board gave the green light to launch a new graduate certificate in nursing management and leadership.
LCSC President Cynthia Pemberton said the new program “is momentous to us.” She said Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, and the university pushed for the program to meet advanced education opportunities at Kootenai Health.
The goal is “to better serve nurses in our region that might be interested in this next level credential,” Pemberton said.
LCSC envisions a part-time online program, relying on its existing faculty, for nurses who wish to advance their careers. The graduate tuition rate is expected to go before the State Board in April.
“You’ve got yourself a program!” Critchfield told Pemberton as they celebrated after the unanimous vote.