Tuesday, February 18, 2014


The House Education Committee on Monday passed House Bill 504, a bill that works to implement the first portion of the Career Ladder Compensation Model recommended by the Task Force for Improving Education.

Specifically, this legislation would provide $15.9 million in funding that Idaho’s school districts can use to pay leadership awards to Idaho teachers serving in leadership capacities. This is just one portion of the Career Ladder that the Task Force recommended to change the way Idaho’s teachers are compensated.

“Today, the House Education Committee took an important first step toward improving compensation for all Idaho’s teachers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “The Task Force for Improving Education developed a framework for implementing a Career Ladder Compensation Model to create fiscal stability and help recruit and retain the best and the brightest in the teaching profession. By approving the leadership awards portion of the Career Ladder this year, the Legislature will take an important first step this year that allows us as a state to take the critical second step next year and implement the full Career Ladder.”

Superintendent Luna supports the $15.9 million in funding for leadership awards along with a 1 percent increase in funding for base salaries for Idaho’s teachers in fiscal year 2015 until the Career Ladder can be fully implemented in fiscal year 2016.

House Bill 504 will now head to the full House for approval.

Friday, February 14, 2014


As part of Idaho’s effort to improve school safety and security, the Idaho State Department of Education has published the results of a comprehensive school safety assessment, administered among a representative sample 74 schools last year.

“While this report identifies several challenges in the area of school safety, it also recognizes many successes in Idaho’s schools that we can build upon going forward,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “Based on this assessment, we now have baseline information that we as a state will use to support schools as they improve safety and security for every child. This is essential because we know no child will be free to learn until they are truly free from intimidation and fear.”

In December 2012, as a result of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Superintendent Luna called on the state to take a renewed look at school safety and security. He established the Safe and Secure Schools Task Force, made up of educators and first responders as well as a liaison with the Governor’s office. Among its recommendations, the Task Force decided to conduct a comprehensive assessment to collect an objective, statewide snapshot of how prepared schools are to prevent and respond to crisis situations and to build local capacity to implement school safety improvements.

This comprehensive assessment provides important data to guide the state’s work going forward. Here are a few highlights from the report:
  • In 68 of the 74 schools, they have published and/or promote statements regarding anti-bullying, anti-harassment, or anti-violence.
  • In 68 of the 74 schools, they have alternatives to suspension and/or expulsion, which are effective disciplinary measures that continue to engage students rather than excluding them from the school setting entirely.
  • In 60 of the 74 schools, they have a policy to lock classroom doors at the end of the day.
  • In 71 of 74 schools, unauthorized entrance to the school was achieved through some way other than the designated main entrance.

Specifically, these results will inform future professional development opportunities, technical assistance, guidance and resources for Idaho schools. For fiscal year 2015, Superintendent Luna has requested $2.2 million in funding that will flow directly to Idaho’s schools and districts as well as an additional $500,000 to be used at the state level to provide guidance and technical assistance.

The full results of the comprehensive assessment are posted on our website.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The Idaho State Department of Education is hosting a Charter Start 101 workshop for parents, educators and others interested in learning more about what it takes to start a public charter school in Idaho on February 27-28, 2014 in Boise.

Public charters schools are free public schools that are open to all students. A public charter school gives parents the choice of sending their children to a school that uses innovative methods to provide a quality education in a smaller, more responsive learning environment.

Recently, Idaho jumped from 32 to 20 in national rankings of charter-friendly laws across the country after the Legislature improved Idaho’s public charter school law last year. The changes strengthened accountability for charter schools and provided funding for facilities.

Charter Start 101 is a two-day workshop that provides technical assistance for all new charter developers and any individual or group interested in a public school conversion. The workshop is designed to support public charter school developers at all stages – from vision to implementation. 

Workshop attendance is a statutory requirement for all charter developers. This free workshop is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the State Department of Education offices in the Barbara Morgan Conference Room, 650 West State Street, 2nd floor, Boise. Registration starts at 7:45 a.m. All participants will receive a charter start resource guide.

The deadline to register is Thursday, February 20, 2014. No late registrants will be accepted. Space is limited so please go to our website and fill out the registration form today! If you have any questions, please contact School Choice Coordinator Michelle Clement Taylor at mtaylor@sde.idaho.gov.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Idaho Teen GameLab

Is your son or daughter an aspiring “gamer” or computer programmer?  The Idaho Digital Learning Academy and GoGo Labs have teamed up to offer a six-week, online camp called Idaho Teen GameLab.  The camp promotes exploration of the digital game design career path for middle and high school students of all skills levels.

Idaho Teen GameLab engages students in their own realm—a virtual, quest-based platform.  Students will collaborate in virtual worlds to plan and build civilizations, create personalized games, and test and provide feedback on fellow developers’ games.

“Ninety-nine percent of teens play video games,” said Lisa Dawley, GoGo Labs CEO and Founder.  “GoGo Labs is focused on engaging students and inspiring teachers through gamified learning opportunities, and what could be more interesting than designing the games themselves?”

Space is limited to 200 students, so don’t delay!  Registration opens February 5, 2014.  For more information, visit http://idahoteengamelab.org/.