It looks like the Idaho legislature may be on track for a solution to the uncertainty about how to address the literacy initiative. After declining to fund a statewide reading test known as the “Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI)” three weeks ago, JFAC (Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee) met Tuesday morning and voted 16-3 to add $383,800 to the $166,200 already in the budget of Superintendent Sherri Ybarra for expansion of the current test.
Legislators agree that help needs to be provided for K-3 students who are struggling with literacy, but they have not all been on the same page regarding how to accomplish that goal. Some lawmakers have expressed a preference for allowing local school districts to adopt their own tests, while the majority believe a statewide test will provide the best evaluation metrics and intervention strategies.
As Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News reports, Idaho has been spending about $11 million per year for additional help for at-risk students. The IRI is the test that would provide them with data regarding the progress of those students and the success of the literacy initiative.
JFAC’s budget recommendation will now go to the House floor, and it must pass both chambers before it goes to the desk of Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter.