On Monday, February 1st, the House Education committee and Senate Education Committee will be meeting together in a Joint session at 3:00PM in the Lincoln Auditorium. A number of important items are on the agenda for that meeting, including:
- Recognition of IEA member and Idaho Teacher of the Year Melyssa Ferro, who will share some of her “from the front lines” perspectives on education in the state.
- More in-depth discussion with Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherry Ybarra about the education priorities she outlined in her presentation to JFAC.
- Further investigation into Idaho’s “go on rate” goal of 60%, which is nowhere near being met, and what steps should be taken to increase post-secondary opportunities.
Also on Monday, look for the IEA’s in-depth recorded interview with Superintendent Ybarra, who shares her thoughts on education funding, professional development and mentoring, college and career counseling, alternative authorization and more.
House Education Committee Gets ISAT Testing Update
Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and SDE Assessment Director Dr. Cheryl Finley provided the House Education Committee with an update on their portfolio of statewide assessments, including the new ISAT 2.0. Last year’s ISAT debut was marred by many complications, including software “glitches”, a deficit of test scorers, accidental administration of the wrong test and a failure to read preliminary directions, according to Finley.
Last year, ISAT scores were not provided to districts until well into the summer, making it difficult for teachers, students and parents to use the results to better inform lesson plans to improve student learning outcomes. Many other concerns about the time it took for students to complete the assessment, teacher’s training to administer the test, and student anxiety were also reported.
The State Department of Education, in tandem with SBAC (the test vendor) and the independent scoring firm say they have learned from the rocky roll-out last year and have the systems in place for a smoother assessment this year. This academic year, the ISAT should take students an hour less to complete over last year as the Math and English Language Arts sections were both shortened by 30 minutes respectively. The SDE is confident that test scores will be completed in a time for teachers to review diagnostic reports in order to implement the necessary interventions to address student achievement deficits, and that teachers and administrators will have access to a customer service help desk to mitigate test interruptions. Late last fall the SDE conducted their second sensitivity review, a process for ensuring that test questions are appropriate for Idaho students. That review, conducted annually, costs approximately $350,000 to evaluate 2000 questions.
Scholarship Program Coming Up Short
State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman made a presentation to JFAC where he revealed that many Idaho students are being told not to bother applying for state scholarships because there aren’t sufficient funds in the Opportunity Scholarship program. Idaho only awarded scholarships to 1,158 of the 4,017 students who were eligible. The program is supposedly open to anyone with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but the average GPA of those who received scholarships this year was 3.73. Governor Butch Otter recently requested an additional $5 million for the Opportunity Scholarship fund.