Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Idaho College-Going Rates, Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed statewide college-going rates for the classes of 2012 and 2013. The State Board of Education also provided some information about destination patterns among students in districts across the state.

Four Year and Two Year College Patterns

It's interesting to look at trends across the state in terms of Two Year College attendance. The opening of the College of Western Idaho dramatically changed college-going patterns in the Boise District, especially at Borah and Capital High Schools, where many more students are now choosing the Two Year option.

Here's how the patterns look across the state of Idaho. The stacked chart below shows the percentage of class of 2013 students attending Four Year (dark blue bar) and Two Year (light blue bar) colleges. The state of Idaho is highlighted in red and yellow.

Note that Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Moscow, Lewiston, Snake River, Bonneville, and Madison are among those districts with the highest percentages of Four Year attendees.

Idaho Falls Superintendent George Boland noted that there isn't a viable two-year option for most students in his district, since Eastern Idaho Technical College in Idaho Falls fits a specific niche. Most IF students attend BYU-Idaho or Idaho State University.

This also the case in the Madison District down the road in Rexburg. Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas indicated that parents of many Madison students work at BYU-Idaho, and students receive reduced rate tuition there. BYU-Provo and Utah State University are also viable options for some of these students.

Of course, Moscow and Lewiston students have access to two four-year institutions in the neighborhood, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College.

At the other end of the spectrum, Post Falls and Lakeland have immediate access to North Idaho College, and students in Twin Falls, Gooding, Filer, and Jerome are close to the College of Southern Idaho.

In-State/Out of State Patterns

Following is a chart showing in-state and out-of-state patterns in large Idaho school districts. Just over 3/4 of Idaho graduates who go on to college attend in-state institutions of higher learning.

The highest percentages of in-state college attendance are in Fremont County (eastern Idaho), Homedale, and Filer. Fremont and Filer make sense (see above). Homedale Superintendent Rob Sauer indicated that there's a long-standing tradition among Homedale students of attending the University of Idaho.

Among the lowest percentages of in-state attendance are in Payette, Fruitland, and Weiser. Fruitland Superintendent Teresa Fabricius indicated that, for many Fruitland graduates, the proximity of Fruitland to the border makes Treasure Valley Community College a logical destination.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Students who arrive in Idaho districts and have limited English language skills are provided assistance with learning English. In most districts across the state, the majority of Limited English students are of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. In Boise, Meridian, and Twin Falls, significant numbers of Limited English students come to the district as refugees, from various parts of the world.

Limited English students are classified into three categories:

LEP 1 - First year in an English-speaking school - these students are exempted from state Reading tests, but take the state math test. In 2013-14, Boise has 255 LEP 1 students No other district has more than 100.

LEP - Limited English students. These students take all state tests, and are considered a subgroup at the school and district level. Typically, LEP students may take 5 to 7 years to learn the spoken and written English language, and from 7 to 11 years if they are not literate in their own spoken/written first language.

LEPX 1 and 2 - Students who have been exited from the Limited English program for 1 or 2 years, but are monitored for the 2-year period.

Following is a chart showing the Idaho school districts with the largest numbers of Limited English students.

Boise and Meridian have the largest numbers of Limited English students in the state. However, they are also the two largest districts in Idaho. Here are the districts with over 1000 or more students that have the highest percentage of Limited English students.

Almost 20% of students in the American Falls (eastern Idaho) district are Limited English Proficient. Two districts in South Central Idaho,Wendell (18%) and Jerome (15%) have the second and third highest percentages of LEP students, followed by the Caldwell District at 14%. Note that all of the districts in the chart are in southern and eastern Idaho. Northern Idaho districts have very few LEP students. Moscow, Lewiston, Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, Lakeland, and Post Falls, with over 30,000 total students, have fewer than 100 LEP students combined. Boise has 5.4% LEP students; Meridian has 2..6%.

In Boise, the population of Limited English students represents four ethnicity categories; White, Black/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino. White LEP students' countries of origin are typically in the Middle East. Here's how the ethnicity of Boise LEP students plays out:

Boise's LEP population has grown significantly since the mid-1980's when 40 Kurdish students arrived at Franklin Elementary School. The District's LEP population exceeded 2200 in 2012, but changes in the state's exiting criteria and some decrease in numbers since then have yielded the current LEP number of 1668.

Limited English students typically do not perform well on statewide achievement tests. For example, in 2012-13, just 37% of LEP students were proficient on the Idaho Standards Achievement Reading Test. However, students who had met the criteria for exiting the program, our LEPX students, did much better: Eighty-five percent (85%) of LEPX students met the mark for proficiency, showing that, once the language barrier is overcome, students can meet the achievement marks set by the state.

In the elementary grades, most Limited English students attend one of ten schools. Most Boise LEP students live within the boundaries of one of the ten. They are: Grace Jordan (24% LEP), Garfield (15%), Horizon (18%), Jefferson (20%), Koelsch (11%), Lowell (12%), Morley Nelson (15%), Taft (22%), White Pine (15%), and Whittier (24%).

Sixty-five (65) native languages are spoken by Limited English students in the Boise District. The most common is Spanish (42%), followed by Arabic (10%), Swahili (6%), Karen and Somali (5%), and Nepali (4%). Languages spoken at the various elementary schools can very greatly. For example, at Whittier School, the most prevalent native language is Spanish (74% of LEP students), and ten different native languages are spoken by the LEP students. At Taft. the native language among 25% of LEP students is Swahili, and 19 native languages are spoken.

In junior high, Hillside hosts the Bridge program for new to the country students, who are allowed to stay in the program for up to two years. Hillside's student population features 14% Limited English students (82 students), 13 of whom are LEP 1. South's LEP student population is 6.9% of the total, Farimont 6.8%, and North 3.7%. East, West, Les Bois and Riverglen have fewer than 3% LEP students.

Borah is the senior high Bridge counterpart to Hillside; 11% of Borah's student body (170 students) are Limited English students. Forty three of those students are in LEP 1 status. Boise and Capital each have about 4% Limited English students. Timberline has just over 1% LEP students.

The Limited English population has brought substantial diversity to Boise's schools, and students have enjoyed opportunities to learn more about countries and customs from around the world. As LEP students have learned the spoken and written English language, many are enrolling in the District's AVID program, and pursuing Accelerated and Advanced Placement opportunities.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Idaho College-Going Rates, Part 1

The Idaho State Board of Education recently published college-going rates for the classes of 2012 and 2013 across the state of Idaho. Idaho Education News has published these data on their site as part of Idaho Ed Trends. Following are some charts depicting those rates. The data are derived from National Student Clearinghouse reports to the State Board of Education.

The Clearinghouse data do not include information about students who serve their church on missions, or about students who enter the military. These are limitations to the information presented below.

First, the class of 2012. This chart depicts the percentages of high school grads in "large" districts (over 80 grads) who were enrolled in college at any time during the first 16 months after graduation.

Eight Idaho districts have had more than 60% of their students attend college in the first 16 months after high school graduation. Parma, Moscow, and Meridian are above 70%. Kimberly, Boise, Blaine County, Fruitland, and Coeur D'Alene are between 60% and 70%. At the other end of the spectrum, Fremont County and Preston have had fewer than 40% of 2012 graduates enroll in college thus far. The average statewide is just above 56%.

For the class of 2013, here are the data, displayed in the same fashion. These data are the "direct to college" information for the districts; in other words, these percentages are for students who graduated and then attended 2 or 4 year colleges the next fall semester.

Though the state average is 47%, nine districts have rates of over 55%. Mt. View (Grangeville) and Parma are over 60%, and Moscow, Fruitland, Boise, Kimberly, Meridian, Gooding, and Homedale are above 55%. In Shelley, Preston, Teton County, Snake River, Sugar-Salem, and Fremont County districts, fewer than 30% of graduates entered college the semester after graduation.

It's interesting that Parma, Fruitland, and Kimberly appear near the top of class of 2012 and 2013 charts. What are they doing in these communities that causes such a high percentage of students to attend college?

When asked about Parma's high college-going rates, Superintendent Jim Norton wrote:
"The Bruce Mitchell scholarships play a large role in why Parma grads go on. There is a Foundation Board that manages and oversees the program. Nothing is managed by the District other than coordinating meetings and interviews."
Bruce Mitchell was a Parma grad who worked for Idaho Power as an Electrical Engineer. He initiated the scholarship in 1991, when one award was given (the only one Mitchell saw awarded). As of 2013, 465 Parma students have received scholarships (about 70 students graduate from PHS each year), and over $3 million has been awarded in total. 100 Parma grads are currently being supported by scholarships, which begin in freshman year with $2000, and grow by $500 a year.
"The entire student body and the community takes part in an assembly to honor the Bruce Mitchell Scholarship winners. It is a big deal to students to be recognized at this assembly. A Community Award winner is also recognized."
As Districts work to improve "Go On" rates in pursuit of the State Board's goal of 60% of 25-34 year olds having a certificate or 2 or 4 year degree by 2020, it will be important to analyze what's happening across the state, and to look for examples of what's working. In Boise, a new scholarship sponsored by Bev and George Harad may be just the beginning of support efforts for or students.

There is more information available about college-going patterns across the state. In the next post, we'll examine 2 and 4 year college-going percentages, along with in-state/out-of-state and private/public percentages.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Advanced Placement in Idaho Schools

Advanced Placement classes are rigorous, college-level classes taught by certified high school teachers and audited by the College Board. The vast majority of colleges and universities offer credit and/or waivers for particular scores on Advanced Placement exams, and the College Board maintains a site where students and parents can see AP credit policies of each college/university. Each of Boise's traditional high schools offers at least 23 Advanced Placement courses.

AP exams are administered in the first two weeks of May each school year. They are scored in a central location by teachers using a rubric provided by the College Board. The AP exam scoring scale is 1-5, with scores of 3, 4, and 5 considered as eligible for college credit for the course.

Here is the distribution of AP exams taken by students in districts across the state of Idaho.

With just over 9% of Idaho's student population, Boise students took over a third of the state AP exams in 2012-13. Meridian and Boise students took over half of the state exams. Here are the largest number of exams given in Idaho districts.

However, since Boise and Meridian are the largest districts in the state, the charts above do not accurately reflect participation rates. Since juniors and seniors take most of the AP exams, here is a chart showing the highest rates of AP participation among juniors and seniors across the state.

When viewed in terms of junior and senior participation, McCall and Blaine County, two relatively small Idaho districts, have the highest rates, along with Boise. Five other districts are above 20% participation.

Finally, what about the percentage of exams taken across in the state that are eligible for college credit? Madison and Sandpoint had the highest passing percentages in 2012-13. Sandpoint gave 156 exams, and Madison 117.