Want To Have A Say In School Accountability?

Guest Contributor /// Jennifer Swindell of Idaho Ed News

If you were going to give your school a grade, what criteria would you use to assess its quality? What’s important to you, as a parent?

Test scores, graduation rates or your child’s engagement? What about teacher evaluations or attendance? Should a parent survey — or student survey — be included when grading a school’s performance?

Now is the time for your opinion to be heard.

A new accountability model for Idaho’s schools is being designed in the coming months to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The model will be tested out this year and take affect during the 2017–18 school year.

Although the State Board of Education gave initial approval to a draft last week, several aspects of the accountability plan are still being developed.

Education leaders are hosting a series of public forums and their asking for your opinion.

So, as they say, speak up!

This is important because Idaho hasn’t had a school accountability model in place since 2014. Then it was a five-star rating system, like a popcorn movie guide.

This time the draft model on the table is an online data dashboard for each school that would be accessible to all parents, students, taxpayers and policymakers.

The dashboard is still under development but several factors are likely to be included.

At the high school level, the accountability dashboard could include:

  • Proficiency rates on state assessment tests.
  • Four-year graduation rates.
  • English Language Learners’ growth in assessment tests.
  • Go-on rates.
  • Percentages of students with at least a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Teacher certification and attendance data.
  • Student engagement.

Your window of opportunity to speak up is September and October when officials will stage a series of seven regional public forums.

Following this fall’s public comment windows, the State Board is expected to take up the accountability system during a special meeting in November. Board members would then forward that to the Legislature in the form of an administrative rule in early 2017.

Another important part of the accountability model is also under development this fall. State Board officials are accepting public input and crafting the consolidated state plan, another ESSA requirement. That consolidated state plan is the document where the state reports to the federal government what is measured for accountability, timelines for school improvement and what happens to schools under an improvement plan.

In December, the State Board is expected to consider action on the consolidated state plan. If there are no changes made to the consolidated state plan, it will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in March.

School Accountability Public Forum Schedule

All events run from 6 p.m. — 8 p.m. local time

  • Sept. 7, Boise School District Office, 8169 W. Victory Road.
  • Sept. 8, Ridgevue High School, college lecture hall Room 190, 118800 Madison Road, Nampa.
  • Sept. 13, College of Southern Idaho, Shields Academic Building, Room 118, Twin Falls.
  • Sept. 21, Eastern Idaho Technical College, Health Care Education Building, Room 6164, 1600 South 25th East, Idaho Falls.
  • Sept. 22, Idaho State University, Pond Student Union, Middle/South Fork rooms, Pocatello.

Jennifer Swindell is the managing editor of Idaho Education News. She can be reached at jswindell@idahoednews.org

Jennifer Swindell

Idaho Education News will be reporting on all of the public forums and following the adoption of a school accountability model. Find those stories at IdahoEdNews.org.

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