Last legislative session some lawmakers voiced their aversion to the Idaho Core Standards. The concern about the standards continues to exist, and now lawmakers have begun questioning the state testing requirements, as well.
Sen. Bob Nonini (R-Post Falls) informed Senate Education Committee members that a group of legislators is interested in introducing a bill that would allow students to “opt out” of the state assessment. The issue arose as the panel was reviewing a rule that attempts to better define how Limited English Proficient students are identified.
Though not under consideration for amendment or adoption by the committee, a sentence in the rule outlines the requirement that at least 95% of all eligible students take the spring Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). Idaho is one of 22 states that have joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and in the spring of 2014 Idaho students piloted the newest version of the ISAT that was developed by SBAC.
No legislation has yet emerged that would allow students or school districts to opt out of testing requirements. However, there will be a number of legislative proposals introduced over the next month and is possible that legislation will be introduced.
Chair of Senate Tax Committee Champions Teacher Salaries
Shortly after Governor Otter delivered his State of the State address calling for increased education spending and tax breaks, Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), who chairs the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, drew a line in the sand by announcing that he would not allow hearings on any tax cut legislation until beginning teacher salaries were increased to $40,000 a year.
Sen. Siddoway sat down with William Spence from the Lewiston Tribune to talk about why he made the statement and the story made the front page of Monday’s Idaho Statesman. Siddoway said, “Our local schools are dying….We can’t keep teachers or attract new teachers.”
The senator supports the education task force recommendation to raise teacher salaries, but as he told the reporter, “We can get there faster without tax cuts. The sooner we get the job done, the sooner we can move on to something else.”
Superintendent Ybarra Guest Speaker at School Choice Rally
This is National School Choice week, and charter and other school choice advocates donned in bright yellow scarves marched to the Capitol on Tuesday for a mid-day rally where they were greeted by State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra.
The superintendent addressed the several hundred charter school students and their parents who were in attendance. She urged strong communication between traditional schools and charters by reminding the group that charter schools were created so that we can learn what works and replicate it.