An Independent Peer Review Shows Idaho’s Education Plan Lacks Detail in Key Areas
Kim Zeydel, Idaho’s 2015 Teacher of the Year
(Boise, ID, Wednesday, January 24, 2018) – An independent peer review of Idaho’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plan has been released.
Idaho’s plan, along with 33 other state plans, was submitted in September 2017 to the U.S. Department of Education in order to comply with ESSA; the peer review shows Idaho’s education plan lacks detail in key areas.
The goal of the independent peer review was to provide constructive information to state education agencies in an effort to strengthen state plans and to inform parents so that they could engage with their state policymakers.
Across the nine categories, Idaho received its highest score – 5 out of a possible 5 – in the Standards and Assessment category. Idaho earned its lowest score – 1 out of 5 – in the Academic Progress and Identifying Schools categories.
Specific areas of concern in Idaho’s plan include its use of a dashboard to report school ratings—which can be confusing for parents to understand, and a failure to provide the types of interventions and supports needed to raise achievement at the lowest-performing schools.
Idaho is doing well in Standards and Assessments. Idaho has a high-quality assessment system in grades 3-8 and 10. The Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) includes both interim and summative assessments which have already passed federal standards for validity and reliability.
Idaho’s plan needs to improve in Academic Progress and in Identifying Schools. For Academic Progress, Idaho’s proposed growth measure only tracks year-over-year changes at the school level. A school’s performance on the growth indicator could improve or decline simply because the population served by the school is changing. The state does not incentivize schools to care about both proficiency and growth.
In terms of Identifying Schools, Idaho will identify “schools for improvement only if they are both the lowest performing in the state and not improving.” Idaho will turn each of its variables into statewide rankings of both current-year performance and improvement over time, and then use only the higher of the two ranks. That is, if a school scores well overall but exhibits low growth on the measure, it will get credit for its overall high score and not be penalized for a lack of growth.