Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Idaho’s Indian Education Coordinator Appointed to National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Idaho’s state Indian Education Coordinator Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak will be appointed to serve on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today at the Northwest Indian Education Summit.

The White House sent a news release nationally on Monday afternoon, announcing President Obama’s intent to appoint Oatman-Wak Wak to the Council.

The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) was created under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was reauthorized as No Child Left Behind in 2001.  The 15-member Council advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on Indian education issues.

Superintendent Luna named Oatman-Wak Wak as Idaho’s first Indian Education Coordinator in 2007 when he created the position.  Since then, she has worked with state education and tribal leaders to raise Native American student achievement. Oatman-Wak Wak is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe. 

In 2009, she was elected President of the National Indian Education Association.  She is a graduate of Lewis-Clark State College with degrees in Justice Studies and Nez Perce language and is currently working toward her Ed.D. at the University of Idaho, College of Education.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the nomination and appointment process.

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Idaho Joins 31-State Consortium to Build Next Generation of Assessments

Idaho has joined 30 other states to work toward building the next generation of assessments to measure student achievement, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

Idaho is a lead state in the 31-state SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which submitted an application this week for a federal grant to help develop the next generation of student assessments to provide more meaningful, responsive data to parents, educators and policymakers so they can make the best possible decisions for Idaho students.

“This is a great step forward for Idaho. By working with 30 other states, we will create improved assessment tools that Idaho educators can use in the classroom throughout the school year to guide instruction and inform decision-making at every level,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said.

“The goal is to ensure every student who graduates from an Idaho high school is prepared to go on to postsecondary education or the workforce without the need for remediation. To reach this goal, we must have high-quality assessment tools in place at all levels to measure student progress,” Superintendent Luna said.

Idaho is a governing state in the SMARTER Balanced Consortium, taking a lead role throughout this process. The consortium was initially formed in December 2009. After months of work, the group submitted a $160 million application for the federal Race to the Top Assessment Grant.  The grant money would be utilized over four years. Only two such grants will be awarded nationwide.

With this grant, the SMARTER Balanced Consortium would develop an assessment system to measure student achievement in grades 3-8 and 11, including assessing problem solving and complex thinking skills. States will have the option of adding assessments in grades 9 and 10.  The assessment system will include end-of-year assessments and assessment tools for teachers throughout the school year.

The assessments will be tied to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a state-led initiative to raise the bar on standards in math and English language arts. Idaho is a part of this voluntary, state-led Initiative. The State Board of Education and Idaho Legislature will be deciding in the coming year whether or not to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Teachers in Idaho and other participating states will be involved at all stages of item and test development, including writing, scoring and the design of reporting systems. Educators will also be able to access a reporting system that identifies each student’s strengths, weakness and progress toward college and career readiness.

The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce the grant awards in September 2010. States in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium will share many of the development costs of the assessment system.

Here is a list of states participating in the SMARTER Balanced Consortium:
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kids Added Up the Fun with Math at Boise Hawks Opening Night

More than 300 kids earned free tickets to an upcoming Boise Hawks game last night by having fun with math at the Hawks’ home opener. 

It was all part of the first Add+Up the Fun Monday Math Night at Hawks Stadium, a partnership among Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Pioneer Federal Credit Union and the Boise Hawks.

When kids walked in the gate on opening night, they received a flier with a fun set of baseball-related math problems. Kids had the opportunity to solve these problems and turn the completed flier in for free tickets to a future Boise Hawks game.
Parents and kids having fun with math at the Boise Hawks Opening Night game.

Volunteers from the State Department of Education and Pioneer Federal Credit Union were on hand throughout the night to help kids solve the problems.

Superintendent Luna kicked off the event – and opening night for the Hawks – by throwing out the opening pitch.

Superintendent Luna throws first pitch at Boise Hawks Opening Night.

Monday Math Night will take place at every Monday night Hawks home game this summer. The next Monday Math Nights will be held July 12, July 19 and August 16.

Kids can also win free tickets to these Monday night games by doing math online throughout the summer.

The Idaho Math Initiative’s web-based math instruction tool, called Apangea Math, allows Idaho students to solve math problems online while in school or at home to improve their math skills. The more math problems they solve through Apangea Math, the more points they can earn and redeem for prizes or donate to a local charity.

This summer, students can redeem Apangea points for a free reserved ticket to a Boise Hawks game.  Many kids already have Apangea accounts set up through school. If you don’t already have an Apangea account, don’t worry. It's easy! Parents can just visit the Department's website and sign up for a free Apangea account online.

The 30 kids who participate the most in Apangea Math online this summer will receive a free ticket to the Boise Hawks game on August 16, a meet-and-greet with the Boise Hawks players, a certificate of completion for the Summer Apangea Math program, and an Add + Up the Fun T-shirt! The top 30 participants will be recognized on the Boise Hawks's website in August!

Start adding up the fun!

~ Melissa M.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Idaho High Schools Rank Among Top in Nation

The rankings are in, and Idaho schools have something to be proud of.

In a recent Newsweek article “America’s Best High Schools”, two Idaho high schools ranked among the top 500 public high schools in the nation.

Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy ranked No. 276 in the nation this year!  Boise High School ranked No. 494 to round out the Top 500.  

The nation’s high schools are chosen by Newsweek every year based on how students are challenged with placement college-level tests and courses. A total number of Advanced Placement tests given during the school year are divided by the number of seniors who graduate. The list was based on data gathered from the 2009 school year.

Only 6 percent of all public high schools made the list this year, including six from Idaho.

Here’s a list of all the Idaho schools recognized in the Newsweek article as top high schools:
  • Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy: 276
  • Boise High School: 494
  • Timberline High School: 1,218
  • Century High School: 1,456
  • Borah High School: 1,464
  • Capital High School: 1,493
Check out Newsweek’s full article online.

~ Eva C.

Welcome New Additions to the Education Idaho Blog

I'll be getting a little help keeping the Education Idaho blog up-to-date this summer.

Ryan Sargent and Eva Crane are both spending the summer at the State Department of Education offices, and we're lucky to have them!

Ryan is currently a law student at the University of Idaho. Originally from Pocatello, he's a proud graduate of Idaho State University, where he studied political science. He also served as Student Body President. He's at rsargent@sde.idaho.gov.

Eva just wrapped up her junior year at the University of Idaho. She's studying public relations and interning in our Communications & Government Affairs Division. Eva is originally from Middleton. She's at ecrane@sde.idaho.gov.

Welcome Ryan and Eva!

~ Melissa M.

Idaho Digital Learning Academy Honors Its Top Teachers

Idaho Digital Learning Academy honored seven of its outstanding online instructors during its annual Summer Conference this week. Out of more than 200 Idaho Digital Learning teachers, the winners were selected because they achieved the highest scores in student evaluations, creatively manage and support online learning, provide outstanding intervention strategies to students, and give exceptional feedback on student assignments.

Idaho Digital Learning Academy was created by the Idaho Legislature in 2002. The state online school serves current has 14,300 enrollments.

The 2009-2010 Best Practices recipients are:
  • Electives/Driver Education: Kevin Ramsey
  • PE/Heath: Theresa Carter
  • English: Sarah Remacle
  • Math: Teresa Dodge
  • Science: Sue Bodden
  • Social Studies: Jenny Johnston
  • Foreign Languages: Briana Livingston

The winners received recognition and an award for their accomplishments. Congratulations to these outstanding teachers!

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

22 Students Receive Governor's Cup Scholarships to Postsecondary Education

Today, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced 22 students have received scholarships to Idaho colleges and universities through the 2010 Governor’s Cup.

More than 600 students applied for the scholarships. The 22 awarded students were selected by the Idaho Governor’s Cup Scholarship Fund Inc.’s 16-member board of directors for their commitment to public service, academic achievement and community involvement.

Through this scholarship, these students will receive $3,000 per year, renewable for up to four years, or two to three years for professional-technical programs. Because of record fund-raising this year, the Governor was able to award three more scholarships than in 2009.

Here are this year’s recipients, along with their high schools and the schools that they will attend in the fall:

Academic Scholarships – four-year programs:
  • Brett Arnell – Oakley High School – attending Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Emily Baird – Rocky Mountain High School, Meridian – Attending Boise State University
  • Megan Beck – St. Maries High School – Attending Boise State University
  • Shantyl Betty – Pocatello High School – Attending Boise State University
  • Anna Cantrell – Rimrock High School, Bruneau – Attending University of Idaho
  • Jamie Chatham – Liberty Charter School, Nampa – Attending Lewis-Clark State College
  • Sean Dahlman – Wood River High School, Hailey – Attending College of Idaho
  • Brooke Ellis – Liberty Charter School, Nampa – Attending Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Elizabeth Gibbs – Culdesac High School – Attending Lewis-Clark State College
  • Grace Hicks – Liberty Charter School, Nampa – Attending Northwest Nazarene University
  • McKenzie Jemmett – Parma High School – Attending Idaho State University
  • Elizabeth Kidd – Declo High School – Attending Idaho State University
  • Filiberto Martinez – Murtaugh High School – Attending College of Southern Idaho
  • Colleen McHail – Kootenai High School – Attending University of Idaho
  • Daniella Puga – Caldwell High School – Attending Boise State University
  • Clinton Robertson – Melba High School – Attending Boise State University
  • Tracy Sedano – Jerome High School – Attending Idaho State University
  • Makenna Underwood – Pocatello High School – Boise State University
  • Morgan Wiedmeier – Cole Valley Christian High School – Attending Northwest Nazarene University
Professional Technical – two- or three-year programs:
  • Miguel Cabral – Murtaugh High School – Attending College of Southern Idaho
  • Vanessa Lopez – Caldwell High School – Attending College of Western Idaho
  • Ashlynne Uria – Homedale High School – Attending College of Southern Idaho
“It’s encouraging that such worthy and deserving students are matched by such generous and committed sponsors of the Governor’s Cup Scholarship program,” Governor Otter said. “Even during the depths of the economic downturn from which we’re beginning to emerge, our sponsors remained engaged in the important work of helping to prepare our future leaders, professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs for the next challenges we’ll face, and these students kept their hopes and dreams alive for a brighter future for themselves and for Idaho. They all have my gratitude and my congratulations.” 

A huge thanks to all the companies and organizations that helped sponsor the Governor’s Cup.  This year’s “premier” and major sponsors were:
  • Qwest – Premier Sponsor
  • Hecla Mining Co. – Premier Sponsor
  • Micron Technology Foundation
  • Blue Cross of Idaho
  • Potlatch
  • The Coeur d’Alene Tribe
  • J.R. Simplot Co.
  • Premier Technology
  • Mountain View Hospital
  • AREVA Enrichment Services
A reception honoring the recipients is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23 in room EW-42 on the Garden Level of the State Capitol. Recipients will receive certificates and have a photo opportunity with Governor Otter and First Lady Lori Otter.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Idaho Student Reporters Take Home International Awards

A Boise high school student was named Student Journalist of the Year at the Youth Journalism International’s first worldwide journalism contest.

Megan Mizuta of Boise, who writes for The Borah Senator at Borah High School, showed off her courage, her nose for news and her range of talent.

Katie Jordan, a YJI editor, said Mizuta “impressed us with the scope of her writing. She's just as capable of writing hard news stories about budget cuts and student-teacher affairs as she is of writing opinion or sports stories.”

“Megan is the epitome of student journalism: she is honest, communicates clearly, constantly experiments with journalistic forms, assists the staff with copy editing, vehemently practices journalism ethics and provides leadership,” wrote Michelle Harmon, her adviser at Borah High School.

And Megan isn’t just a talented writer. She also took home first place in the Sports Photo category.

Several other students from Boise won awards at the Youth Journalism International conference:
  • Parker Simmons won first place in Sports Opinion for “Team free falls into a 0-9 ring of fire.”
  • Lisa Garrard was awarded first place in the Cartoons category for “Prince, I’m Leaving You for Snow White.”
  • Justin Kirkham won first place in Individual Reporting for his article, “Students experience foreign culture.”
  • Megan Harrignfeld was a finalist for the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary for her piece, “Con: Ada County website violates privacy.”
  • Ayla Washam won second place in Sports News for “No spots in weight class for regulars.”
  • Samantha Whittaker received an honorable mention in the Profile category for her piece, “Ellen Hopkins: Famous author visits school.”
“We had a wealth of really good entries from many different students and schools. Picking the best proved much harder than we ever dreamed,” said Steve Collins, president of the board for YJI.

Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals and talented teens since 1994. Formally created in 2007, it is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit public charity.

The contest covered work published in English between Jan. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010 in any format.

The complete list of winners is available on Youth Journalism International’s website.

~ Melissa M.

Anser Charter School Wins First Charter Stars Award

Anser Charter School in Boise is the first Idaho public charter school to take home the Charter Stars Award for exemplary performance in student achievement, leadership and community service.

Lori Howard of State Department of Education awards the Charter Stars Award and $1,000 check to Lisa VanDercar of Anser Charter School. 

The Charter Stars Award Program was created to recognize an outstanding Idaho public charter school and highlight the innovative programs and success of charter schools across the state. The awards program is part of Idaho’s federal Charter School Program grant.

To be eligible, a school must be operationally and academically successful for at least five consecutive years. Schools were then nominated by educators, parents, and administrators. All nominees were judged based on academic achievement of students, school leadership, innovation of programs, service-learning projects, parental involvement, and additional outstanding projects and data.

The hope is that the Charter Star schools will share their successes and best practices with other schools across the state now and in the future.

The first Charter Stars Award was presented at the annual Idaho Charter School Network Conference on Wednesday. As the winner, Anser Charter School received a Charter Stars banner to display at its school along with a $1,000 award.

Anser Charter School opened its doors in 1999, and now, the school has met or exceeded every requirement of the Charter Star program. 

Students at Anser Charter have met the state’s academic goal, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), for the past three years in a row.

The students at Anser work with 40 different agencies every year and clock more than 5,000 hours of community service – every year.

In 2008, the 7th and 8th graders studied World War II and the Holocaust.  That summer, they sponsored Youth for Human Rights Day and painted the “Forgive” mural on the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, located at the corner of 9th and River Streets in Boise.

Parents at Anser Charter School are also known for lending a helping hand.  In 2009, the parents organized a “Summer of Service” for renovations of the school’s new facility. They contributed more than 2,100 hours! 

Congratulations to Anser Charter School!

~ Melissa M.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Idaho is One of Nine States Setting the Pace on School Improvement

Representatives from nine states are in Coeur d’Alene this week to discuss ways in which they can further improve school improvement efforts and statewide systems of support.

It’s all a part of the Center on Innovation and Improvement’s Academy of Pacesetting States’ conference.

The goal of the Academy is to create well-trained, highly skilled change agents and instructional experts in states who will work together to build capacity for improvement in districts and schools.

Idaho is one of nine states selected to take part. Other states include Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

By choosing to participate in the Academy, these states have expressed their desire to strive for excellence and devote sufficient resources and attention to make a high-quality statewide system of support a reality. The program focuses on leveraging existing resources so states can more effectively (and cost-effectively) support school improvement efforts.

Idaho is hosting the Academy’s meeting this week. State Superintendent Tom Luna will keynote the conference this evening.

At the conference, Superintendent Luna will highlight the great strides Idaho schools have made in raising student achievement, in large part due to Idaho’s Statewide System of Support that offers support at the district, school and classroom levels.

The cornerstone of Idaho’s Statewide System of Support is the Idaho Building Capacity Project. Through this project, the State Department of Education offers on-site technical assistance to struggling schools and districts for three years. The assistance includes the help of a trained outside consultant and research-based professional development for staff.

Currently, the state is serving 91 schools and district offices through the Idaho Building Capacity Project, which is funded through federal School Improvement funds. Participating schools have seen great success in increasing student achievement over the past three years since the program began.

In addition, Idaho has created additional supports to provide professional development to instructional leaders through the Idaho Superintendents’ Network and Principal Academy of Leadership. Last year, the state implemented a research-based online planning tool to further assist Idaho schools in planning for school improvement.

As result, the state has seen tremendous growth in student achievement over the past two years. In 2007, 26% of Idaho schools reached our high academic goals. Now, 66% of schools meet these goals.

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Best-Selling Author to Present the "Brain Rules" in Boise this August

The brain is an amazing thing. Think about it... How do we learn? How does sleep (or the lack thereof) affect our brain? What does stress do to the brain? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget?

Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads.

Dr. John Medina, a world-renowned biologist and author has an idea. He'll be in Boise this August, and Idaho's teachers, administrators, parents and other professionals are invited to attend a special daylong workshop, sponsored by the Idaho Coordinated School Health Program, to learn more. Coordinated School Health is a joint effort between the State Department of Education and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist who focuses on the genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders. He has spent most of his professional life as a private research consultant, working primarily in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries on research related to mental health. Medina holds joint affiliate faculty appointments at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in its Department of Bioengineering, and at Seattle Pacific University, where he is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research.

Medina has a lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information. As the father of two boys, he has an interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children. He wrote a New York Times bestselling book, Brain Rules, which describes 12 rules -- what scientists know for sure about how our brains work -- and then offers powerful ideas that could transform the way our schools help children learn. Brain Rules is about what we know for sure, and what we might do about it.

Dr. Medina will be speaking on Brain Rules at Boise State University on Wednesday, August 4, 2010. Learn more about this event. The deadline to register is July 28.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Idaho Students to Study with NASA Experts this Summer

More than 70 Idaho students will get the chance to study space exploration and rub elbows with NASA officials and Idaho experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) this summer.

These students are part of the newly created Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program.

“The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program is an unprecedented opportunity for Idaho students to work directly with experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at NASA as well as within the State of Idaho,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “With the support of NASA and our in-state partners, we will continue to provide this exciting new program for Idaho students in the coming years.”

In 2009, Superintendent Luna worked with astronaut and Boise State Distinguished Educator-in-Residence Barbara Morgan to create this competitive program that allows Idaho high school juniors to take an engaging online course developed by NASA and to compete for the opportunity to work on developing a mission to Mars with NASA and Idaho scientists and engineers.

The State Department of Education has funded this initial pilot year of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program with help and support from partners, such as Boise State University, Idaho Digital Learning Academy, Discovery Center of Idaho, Micron Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Air National Guard, University of Idaho and Idaho State University.

In its first year, 73 students enrolled in the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program. These students have completed the online course and will participate in Capstone Celebrations, daylong academies that give students the opportunity to share what they have learned and be immersed in STEM activities. Each Capstone Celebration will feature hands-on educational activities and demonstrations of knowledge gained and lessons learned during the online course. The Capstone Celebrations are strategically located at the Idaho Air National Guard in Boise, Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls and University of Idaho in Moscow to serve all students statewide. The three Capstone Celebrations will be held June 10, 14 and 16, 2010, respectively.

In addition, 44 students will be selected, based on their performance in the online course, to participate in a weeklong Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy on August 1-7, 2010, which will take place partly at Boise State, Micron Technology and the Discovery Center of Idaho, and partly at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. At the Summer Academy, students will be immersed in a NASA mission, a problem-based engineering design challenge. STEM experts, teachers and mentors will guide these Idaho students as they design a human mission to Mars.

The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program will continue to expand. In January, NASA awarded Idaho nearly $1 million in grant funding to expand this program to serve 400 students over the next two years.

~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Superintendent Luna Teams Up with Boise Hawks, Pioneer Federal Credit Union to Host Monday Math Nights

It's summer time again, and that means it's time for America's favorite ol' pastime -- baseball.

This year, State Superintendent Tom Luna is teaming up with the Boise's own baseball team, the Boise Hawks, and Pioneer Federal Credit Union to host Monday Math Nights at every Monday night Hawks home game in 2010.

Superintendent Luna will kick off the first Monday Math Night on opening night – Monday, June 21 – by throwing out the opening pitch.

“The Monday Math Nights are a great way for Idaho students to have fun with math. It gives kids the opportunity to see the relevance of mathematics and how they use math every day in activities such as baseball,” Superintendent Luna said.

On Monday Math Nights, kids attending the games will each receive a fun set of baseball-related math problems at the gate. Kids who solve these problems before the 7th inning stretch have the chance to win prizes. Volunteers from the State Department of Education and Pioneer Federal Credit Union will be on hand to help students throughout the evening.

The State Department of Education worked with the Boise Hawks to host one Math Night last year. Based on its success, they decided to expand the program to every Monday game in 2010.  The Monday Math Nights will be held June 21, July 12, July 19 and August 16.

Students can also win free tickets to these Monday Math Nights at the Boise Hawks through the Idaho Math Initiative’s web-based math instruction tool, called Apangea Math. Students use Apangea Math during the school year and throughout the summer to improve their math skills. The more math problems they solve through Apangea Math, the more points they can earn and redeem for prizes or donate to a local charity.

This summer, students can redeem Apangea points earned after June 14 for a free reserved ticket to a Boise Hawks game on July 12, July 19 or August 16.  Don't already have an Apangea account? Don't worry. It's easy! Kids can just visit the Department's website and sign up for a free Apangea account online.

The 30 kids who participate the most in Apangea Math online this summer will receive a free ticket to the Boise Hawks game on August 16, a meet-and-greet with the Boise Hawks players, a certificate of completion for the Summer Apangea Math program, and an Add + Up the Fun T-shirt! The top 30 participants will be published on the Boise Hawks's website in early August!

~ Melissa M.

Department Staff Presenting on Common Core State Standards

Staff from the State Department of Education were in eastern and southern Idaho this week to discuss the proposed K-12 Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts. Additional regional public meetings are scheduled throughout the rest of the state next week.

Here's an updated schedule:
  • June 14: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Sandpoint, Sandpoint High School auditorium
  • June 14: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Coeur d'Alene, North Idaho College Molstead Room 258
  • June 15: 10 a.m. to noon in Lewiston, Lewis-Clark State College, Sacajawea 112
  • June 16: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Meridian, Mountain View High School lecture hall
  • June 17: 10 a.m. to noon in Weiser, Weiser High School
  • June 17: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in McCall, Holiday Inn Express
What are the Common Core State Standards?

In June 2009, Idaho joined 47 other states, two territories and the District of Columbia in committing to develop a common core of state standards for proficiency in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a voluntary, state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate from high school able to succeed beyond high school in post-secondary education and the workforce.  The final standards were released June 2, 2010 and are now available for states to consider adopting. 

More informaiton is available on our Common Core State Standards website.  While there, you can review the standards, submit a comment or see a full list of the regional public meetings across Idaho.

~ Melissa M.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Superintendent Luna helps kick off Idaho Foodbank’s Summer Food Program

For many kids around the state, summer vacation is here. But even though schools are out for the summer, we all know hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. It’s important that our kids still get the good nutrition they have relied on at school.

That’s where the Summer Food Program comes in.

This federal program partners with sponsoring organizations to provide free meals to children from economically disadvantaged families during school summer vacations.

One partnering organization is The Idaho Foodbank. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna joined Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and representatives of Bank of America and The Idaho Foodbank at Ivywild Park in Boise today to kick off The Idaho Foodbank’s 2010 Picnic in the Park Program.

Through its Picnic in the Park Program, The Idaho Foodbank will provide free, nutritious meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry at 10 different locations throughout Boise this summer. Bank of America is helping The Idaho Foodbank with its program this year, donating $25,000 and a crew of volunteers to host activities for the kids during their Picnic in the Park. Life’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization that transforms the lives of at-risk youth through comprehensive food service and life skills training, is providing the meals.

The federal Summer Food Program, administered through the State Department of Education, allows sponsoring organizations to receive full reimbursement based on the number of meals served and apply the funds to both operating and administrative costs, thus streamlining the claims process. The Department contracts with public and private schools; non-profit organizations; city, county, and tribal governments; and other organizations.

Last year, the State Department of Education and partnering organizations served 1.4 million meals to Idaho students at more than 300 sites across our state during the summer months.

To find locations in your area, you can call the Idaho Careline at 211 or 1-800-926-2588.

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Reading Activities Kick Off at Local Libraries

Another great season of Summer Reading kicks off this month at public libraries around Idaho with books, projects, games, prizes, and fun. Kids across Idaho are invited to sign up at their local library for this popular and successful program designed to continue the development of language skills and increase reading skills.

Summer Reading activities are offered free to children statewide, with support from the Idaho Commission for Libraries. Last summer, kids at 117 Idaho public libraries from Bonners Ferry to Bear Lake participated.

“Idaho public libraries had record Summer Reading program registrations in 2009, serving 63,300 children,” said State Librarian Ann Joslin. “The Commission supports Summer Reading because we know that children who read over the summer will maintain or improve their reading readiness when they go back to school.”

This year, like last year, the Commission will distribute books to participating libraries to be given away to children who attend their summer reading programs. These books, purchased with “Books for Summer Readers Program” grant funding from the Fred Meyer Corporation, help stretch libraries’ limited budgets and make it possible to give books to children who do not have books of their own. Librarians also report that books are a strong motivation for many children to participate in summer reading and reach their reading goals.

In addition to providing reading incentives to children, libraries offering Summer Reading also provide fun events such as puppet shows, craft programs, and author visits. The theme for Summer Reading 2010 is “Make a Splash-Read” for kids birth to 11 and “Make Waves at Your Library” for kids ages 12 and up. Even high school students get involved reading to kids and helping with events.

Learn more about the Summer Reading Program or contact your local library to discover what they are offering this summer.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Department to Host Regional Meetings on Final Common Core State Standards

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today the State Department of Education will host a series of regional public meetings during June since the final K-12 Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts have been released.

"Idaho has been heavily involved in the voluntary, state-led Common Core State Standards Initiative over the past year, working with 47 other states, two territories and the District of Columbia to develop more rigorous, common standards in math and English language arts that are comparable with any country around the globe,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “We must ensure we build a public education system that prepares all students to be successful in life after high school. Idaho students are ready for this challenge.”

Idaho initially signed on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative in June 2009.  This Initiative builds directly on previous efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college- and career-ready standards. After a series of drafts, public comment periods and revisions, the final Common Core State Standards have been released.  Now, it is up to each state to choose whether or not to adopt these standards.

Adopting the common core standards is voluntary. Idaho may also choose to include additional standards beyond the common core as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in math and English language arts. The second phase of this initiative is to ultimately develop common assessments aligned to the core standards developed through the process.

Staff from the State Department of Education will host a series of regional public meetings across Idaho throughout the month of June to explain the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts and gather feedback.

After these meetings, Idaho will begin the rulemaking process for these standards by taking these to the State Board of Education for initial approval in August, opening them up to a public comment period statewide in the fall, returning to the State Board for final approval and then taking the standards to the Legislature for final approval in the 2011 Legislature.

Visit our website to view the draft standards, submit comments or see a full schedule of the regional public meetings.

Here is the schedule of regional public meetings on the Common Core State Standards:
  • June 7: 8 a.m. to noon in Pocatello, Idaho State University Pond Student Union Building
  • June 7: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Bonneville, location to be determined
  • June 8: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Twin Falls, Canyon Ridge High School
  • June 14: Sandpoint, time and location to be determined
  • June 14: Coeur d’Alene, time and location to be determined
  • June 15: 10 a.m. to noon in Lewiston, Lewis-Clark State College, Sacajawea 112
  • June 16: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Boise, location to be determined
  • June 17: 10 a.m. to noon in Weiser, Weiser High School
  • June 17: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in McCall, Holiday Inn Express
~ Melissa M.

35 States and D.C. Apply for Race to the Top in Second Round

Applications for the second phase of the Race to the Top fund were due June 1st. At day's end, 35 states and the District of Columbia had submitted applications.

Race to the Top is a competitive $4.35 billion federal grant that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan created with discretionary dollars he received through the federal stimulus package. In the first round, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Delaware and Tennessee, leaving $3.4 billion to distribute in the second round. At speaking engagements across the country, Secretary Duncan has said he expects 10-15 states to be awarded in the second round.

Idaho applied for Race to the Top in the first round, but decided not to apply in the second round.

“I believe the Race to the Top grant program does provide opportunities for states to be innovative and forward-thinking,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said in May. “However, throughout my administration, I have been consistent in my belief that the victory is not in asking; it is in delivering.  I will not ask Idaho schools and districts to spend their precious time and resources competing for an unrealistic goal that has been set by the federal government, not by the state of Idaho. Therefore, I will continue my work as State Superintendent to implement the vision, mission and goals created by Idahoans to raise student achievement and improve our public education system.”

Idaho applied for $120 million in grant funding in the first round. The state's application was aligned to Idaho's strategic plan for education. More than half of Idaho school districts and public charter schools chose to sign up to participate in the state's Race to the Top application.

Since the peer reviewers’ comments on Idaho’s first grant were released in April, Superintendent Luna has worked with educational stakeholders and staff at the State Department of Education to evaluate the application and gather feedback from educators, parents, and community members across Idaho. Based on this feedback, it was decided Idaho would not to reapply for Race to the Top in the second round for several reasons.

Specifically, the short application timeline would place an undue burden on Idaho school districts as they work to set budgets during a tough economic year. Second round applications are due June 1. Since the U.S. Department of Education released the new guidance for the second round in April, states and local school districts were only given a matter of weeks to fully evaluate peer reviewers’ comments, meet with stakeholder groups, revise applications and decide whether or not to sign up.

The U.S. Department of Education also imposed funding caps based on the size of each state for the second round. Under these new guidelines, Idaho could only apply for up to $75 million, significantly less than the state’s initial application of $120 million. These funding limitations make it unlikely the state will be able to improve its application while reducing its projected budget.

Idaho also faces challenges in gaining points in the areas of longitudinal data and educator evaluations. The Race to the Top grant program does not recognize the significant progress Idaho has made toward implementing a longitudinal data system over the past two years. While Idaho scored high on our plans for fully implementing the statewide longitudinal data system and learning management system, Idaho earned few points for what the state currently has in place.

In addition, to be competitive under Race to the Top, Idaho must tie at least a portion of teacher and principal evaluations to student academic growth and achievement. While Superintendent Luna is not opposed to this concept, he does not believe this a change Idaho can or should make overnight. This change will require all educational stakeholders working together to come up with a plan that best meets the needs of Idaho students.

The U.S. Department of Education will announce the Phase 2 winners before the end of September.

Here is the list of states that applied in the second round of Race to the Top:

* Alabama
* Arizona
* Arkansas
* California
* Colorado
* Connecticut
* District of Columbia
* Florida
* Georgia
* Hawaii
* Illinois
* Iowa
* Kentucky
* Louisiana
* Maine
* Maryland
* Massachusetts
* Michigan
* Mississippi
* Missouri
* Montana
* Nebraska
* Nevada
* New Hampshire
* New Jersey
* New Mexico
* New York
* North Carolina
* Ohio
* Oklahoma
* Pennsylvania
* Rhode Island
* South Carolina
* Utah
* Washington
* Wisconsin

~ Melissa M.