THIS AND THAT FOR APRIL
Here are a few interesting tidbits for April, 2015.
TIMBERLINE, CAPITAL, BORAH, BOISE MAKE IT SIX IN A ROW
The Boise District's four comprehensive high schools made the Washington Post's list of the Most Challenging High Schools in America. It's the sixth year in a row that all four schools have made the list. For Boise High, it's 17 straight appearances on the list, and for Timberline, it's 13. Borah has made the Post list seven years in a row, and Capital six.
About 10% of America's high schools make the Washington Post list. The criteria are simple - schools must give more Advanced Placement or International baccalaureate exams than they have graduating seniors in a given year. The Post list was the brainchild of Jay Mathews, the Washington Post education columnist.
Only nine Idaho high schools made the Washington Post list in 2015. The four Boise high schools were joined by Century High School (Pocatello), Wood River (Blaine County), and fast-rising Vallivue High School (Caldwell). Two charters made the list as well - North Star Charter (Eagle) and Coeur d'Alene Charter.
TESTING STORIES, FROM BOISE AND ACROSS THE NATION
In case you have not noticed, SBAC testing is underway across the state of Idaho and the nation. It's been interesting to watch the progress (or lack thereof in some cases) across the country. From statewide computer crashes in seven states to massive opt outs in New York and students not showing up for the tests in Seattle, it's been an interesting few weeks. We have had 35 opt-outs from SBAC testing in Boise.
Here are Boise teacher and student reports about the SBAC testing from Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 of the testing. In general, teachers and students are voicing the concerns we thought might emerge: the tests are too long, directions and questions are confusing, Special Ed and LEP students are struggling mightily, and computer glitches are popping up now and then, especially with audio on the test. However, students are trying their best, according to teachers, and feel like many of the questions, especially in math, are realistic and match what they have been taught.
IDAHO ED NEWS FEATURES DEBATE OVER CHARTERS
Recently, Idaho Ed News featured an interesting op-ed by Vallivue teacher Levi Cavener, who writes a blog called Idaho's Promise. In his op-ed, Cavener described conclusions he has made in reviewing demographic data from charters across the state provided by the Idaho department of Education. Cavener indicated that the demographics of charters differ significantly from those of non-charters in the same area.
A representative of the Idaho Charter Network responded to Cavener, claiming that he had "cherry-picked" the data he used in his op-ed. The representative then used an example of what she noted as similar populations at two charters in Nampa (Victory and Liberty) and Reagan Elementary in the Nampa District, and claimed that achievement at the charters was higher.
Well, here's the data for the schools cited by the Charter Network representative, straight from the State Department of Education data file. Judge for yourself - are the schools demographically comparable?