Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Go On Rates and Persistence

The best measures of success of the AVID program are the percentage of students that go on to college,  the persistence rates  over time, and the college graduation rate for those students.

So what do those rates look like, thus far?

The college go on rates for AVID students are remarkable, at 20-30% higher than the District as  a whole.

Considering that about 40% of Idaho high school grads typically graduate from college in a 6-year time frame, the persistence of AVID college students is impressive. Though we know that some AVID students graduated this spring, we'll wait until we receive the National Student Clearinghouse report next November to confirm the number of college grads, just to have official confirmation.

College Destinations

AVID student college destinations mirror the District-wide patterns. Just over 70% attend three institutions - Idaho, Boise State, and the College of Western Idaho. Here's a look at the overall AVID college-going patterns.

From among the "Other" category students, here are a few notable colleges Boise District AVID grads are attending.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) - we have come a long way! It's exciting to see so many Boise District AVID students having success and living their dreams.

Friday, June 24, 2016


On March 13, 2012, the Boise District went to the voters with a levy proposal. The levy proposal was for an authorization of $14 million a year for 5 years, or an overall cost of $70 million. The first line of the levy proposal laid out the primary intent of the measure: "For the purpose of maintaining low class sizes..."

The levy passed with almost 71% voter approval, and the District went forward with the authorization confirmed. So what has happened since then?

Class Size Since 2011-12

The moneys provided with passage of the levy were intended to maintain class size in the face of reduced state and local funding. District officials indicated that class sizes would increase significantly and that staffing reductions would be necessary if the levy did not pass.

Going forward from 2011-12, with use of the levy funding, average class sizes actually declined in the Boise District.

Elementary average class size is .6 smaller than it was in 2011-12.

Though it may not seem like a huge decrease, the research on class size indicates that any reduction is important. From "7 Myths about Class Size" on the Class Size Matters website:

"Researchers have found that there is no particular threshold that must be reached before students receive benefits from smaller classes, and any reduction in class size increases the probability that students will be on-task and positively engaged in learning. In fact, Alan Krueger of Princeton University analyzed the STAR results for students who were in the “larger” classes and found that within this range (22-25), the smaller the class, the better the outcome."

Average secondary class size also decreased between 2011-12 and 2015-16, and by a larger factor than the decrease at elementary. The secondary figures do not include Self-contained Special Ed classes or Limited English groups, or the average size would be smaller.

Authorization vs. Utilization

Passage of the levy authorized $14 million over 5 years. However, as the economy improved and local property tax revenues increased, the District decreased the amount certified on the levy. In fact, the District never did certify the full amount authorized by passage of the levy, and has reduced the amount during the tenure of the levy.

Though the levy authorization gave the District spending authority for $70 million in 5 years, actual expenditures through the 2016-17 school year will have been $37.5 million.

The levy ends after the 2016-17 school year. We are extremely grateful to our patrons for their support as the District went through a rough patch with ongoing funding. Thank you!

Monday, June 6, 2016


You may know that the SAT has been revised to comport with the Common Core Standards, and that the test is back to two subtests, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics. Thus, the total possible score on the test is now once again 1600, and each of the subtests has a maximum score of 800. For the past few years, the total possible score on the SAT was 2400, and each of the Reading, Math and Writing tests were worth a total possible score of 800.

The College Board turned around the SAT School Day results very quickly this year, and we received a spreadsheet two weeks ago with scores for every student, a breakdown of answers given for each for all items by student. In this post, we will examine some of the top-line results for the District.

The statewide SAT results will apparently be released sometime in June, and at that time we should be able to analyze statewide performance on the new test. Additionally, the College Board will release the exam (as it does every year), and, for the first time, will provide an item analysis for the test. The College Board has previously prepared an analysis only for the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, taken annually by sophomores statewide, and by all juniors in Boise in October.

Last year, results from the SBAC and the SAT were highly negatively correlated with poverty at the school level. In other words, higher scores were associated with lower levels of free/reduced lunch. Now, however, with the College Board providing an item analysis and releasing the test, we will be able to celebrate specific areas of strength on the assessment, and use the analysis to improve overall student performance in skills areas that are weaker. The SBAC does not offer such tools for the improvement of instruction.

Overall Results

The College Board recently set benchmarks for college preparedness on the EBRW and Math SAT subtests. The Reading benchmark score is 480, while the math benchmark score is 530.

 On the new SAT, the results are higher than on the old test - 70.2% of Boise juniors met the EBRW readiness benchmark, compared with 48% in Reading and 41% in Writing on the old SAT given in 2015.

On the new SAT, 45% of juniors met the Math college preparedness benchmark, a bit higher than in Math on the 2015 test, when 43% met the benchmark.

We were able to analyze the percentage of students who met both EBRW and Math SAT benchmarks, as well. 43% of juniors met both the EBRW and Math benchmarks, compared with 33% who met all 3 benchmarks on the old SAT.

Average Scores

Because the percentage of students meeting the EBRW benchmark was so much higher than in the past, the average District score was quite a bit higher than the combined benchmark score of 1010.  So though only 43% of students met both the Math and EBRW benchmark scores, 59% of Boise juniors met or exceeded the combined benchmark score.

High School Scores

It's important to understand that the SAT (and the SBAC) is highly correlated with student demographics. When you look at scores by school, you'll find a strong relationship between Free/reduced price lunch percentages and student performance. You'll also find that Limited English students typically perform less well on the test, especially on reading-related tasks. Now that the SAT is aligned to the Core, both subtests, EBRW and Math, have a lot more reading, which will make it even harder for Limited English students to score well.

That said, here are the Boise comprehensive high school average scores on the new SAT, accompanied by some demographic data for the schools.