This week’s education news:
Turning the tables. Staring this year, third- through 12th-graders will have a chance to grade their teachers and their learning environment. For example, students will be asked whether they worry about school violence, and whether they think their teachers are excited to be in the classroom. The online surveys will be one element in Idaho’s new school accountability system, required under federal law. More information HERE.
“1:1,” times two. In 2013, Middleton High School used a state grant to equip each student with a laptop. The district doubled down this fall, and now, it also provides laptops to every middle school student. The “1:1” programs change the way students do their classwork, but Superintendent Josh Middleton concedes the district has a ways to go to improve test scores and college go-on rates. More information HERE.
Mastery-based teacher hires. The State Board of Education has endorsed a new policy designed to help schools struggling with hard-to-fill jobs. Schools would be allowed to more quickly hire college-educated applicants who don’t have a teaching certificate, but have mastery of a subject such as chemistry. “I’ve been saying since I stepped into office that we are in the middle of a teacher shortage and it will take multiple sets of solutions to figure this out,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said. More information HERE.
A pre-K report card. Students attending a Boise preschool pilot program outperformed their classmates on kindergarten reading tests, according to a new Boise State University study. However, the achievement gap narrows during the year, as all students catch up and pick up reading skills. As Idaho lawmakers continue to balk at funding pre-K, the Boise School District and the City of Boise have partnered on the pilot program in two high-poverty elementary schools. More information HERE.
Bond issue blowback. The Idaho Falls School District is seeking $110 million bond issue — hoping to rebuild one high school and remodel another. District officials say the bond issue will not trigger a tax increase, but a grassroots opposition group is skeptical. Voters will get their say on Nov. 7. More information HERE.
Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.