Sunday, January 28, 2018


Every once in a while, we discover a new blog or website that piques our interest. Here is a blog called Higher Ed Data Stories that was referred to us by a patron who provides college advice. In this blog, the author explores data about colleges nationwide.

The author of the blog, Jon Beckenstedt, is the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at DePaul University in Chicago, but the blog is his work alone. Though it is not directly related to k-12 issues, Higher Ed Data Stories provides fascinating insights into trends at the post-secondary level.

The "higher ed story" that caught our attention was about "freshman migration". The story provides information about "first-time, full-time" freshman college attendance trends by state and institution for the years 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. 

University of Idaho

In this chart, you can see the percentage of freshmen at the University of Idaho who came from Idaho and Washington schools in each of the years.  It's interesting to see the shift:

So the percentage of UI freshmen from Idaho increased substantially from 2010 to 2016, while the percentage of students from Washington declined during that time. The other two largest groups attending UI are students from California (slight percentage increase) and Oregon (slight decrease). The net increase in students from Idaho was just under a hundred.

Lewis and Clark State College

Lewis and Clark State College, in Lewiston, has seen a relatively stable pattern of enrollment, with roughly 4 of 5 students coming from Idaho. Most of LCSC's other students come from Washington, though there are a few enrollees from the state of Oregon.

Idaho State University

An even more pronounced majority of Idaho State University's students come from the state of Idaho. About 9 of 10 ISU students are homegrown. Though ISU's out-of-state enrollment has increased slightly since 2010, it's barely made a dent in the percentage of in-state students attending the university.

Two of Idaho's colleges have seen a significant downward trend in the percentage of students coming from Idaho. The pattern of change is similar at Boise State University and The College of Idaho.

Boise State University

In 2010, two-thirds of BSU freshmen were from Idaho. Just six years later, that percentage has dropped to 55. The number of BSU frosh from Idaho has remained just about the same, but Boise State's freshman classes have grown by 370 during that time. The biggest percentage growth in out-of-state students is from California, and the percentage of the BSU freshmen class from the Golden State has doubled since 2010. The 2016 freshman class at BSU had 400 more out-of-state students than it did in 2010; almost 300 of those students were from California.

This pattern of increased out-of-state enrollment in public universities is happening around the country. For example, just in the Rocky Mountain region:

  • at the University of Utah, out-of-state enrollment increased by 367 from 2010 to 2016, the percentage of in-state students declined from 80% to 71%. The number of Idaho enrollees grew from 62 to 110.
  • out-of-state enrollment increased by 663 students at Montana State University, and the percentage of in-state students declined from 59% to 48%. The number of Idaho students grew from 54 to 75
  • in Logan at Utah State University, out-of-state enrollment grew by 346 students, and the percentage of in-state students declined from 76% to 69%. The number of Idaho students decreased from 292 to 263.

Interestingly, the number of freshman enrollees from California increased at all 3 universities (+ 169% at Utah, +49% at MSU, +93% at Utah State).

The College of Idaho

At one time, the vast majority of C of I students came from the state of Idaho. That has changed in the past four years.

A few years ago, the College of Idaho implemented an incentive program to attract more out of state students. The strategy appears to have contributed to changes in the migration pattern at the C of I. It also appears that a change in strategy is in the works at the College, in order to get back to the "base" enrollment strategy formerly used - attracting academically talented Idaho students, many of whom participate in NAIA athletic programs, as well.

(In the interest of transparency, Dr. Coberly serves on the Board of Trustees for the College of Idaho).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


You may remember that Boise's class of National Merit Semi-finalists was a special group. First off, there were 45 semi-finalists, half of the total in the state of Idaho (Boise has 9% of the state's students). The group also posted some impressive results as they graduated from high school.

Clearly, this is a motivated and hard-working group of students. That average SAT score is in the 99th percentile. All of these students were in the top 10% of their high school classes; most were in the top 5%. Over half of the Advanced Placement tests taken by these students were scored a "5", the top performance level possible; 97% received a passing score of "3" or better.

With this kind of achievement, students have their choice of colleges across the country, and access to multiple scholarships. here's where they are attending school.

Nine of the 45 students are attending the most selective colleges in the country. You may have read last year that Ivan Vazquez, a Capital student and one of the school's valedictorians, was accepted at all 8 Ivy League schools. He is currently attending Harvard University.

Many others in this group are attending some of the top state universities in the country. It's interesting to note that 4 of the NMSF students are in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah, which we have noted before is becoming a top choice for Boise District students. This is the first time ever that 3 or more students in one graduating class have attended the University of Oklahoma.

Also, a few students in this group are attending well-known "national" private universities, which draw their student bodies from around the country. A number of District students have attended Gonzaga and BYU, but it's unusual for Boise District students to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, or the University of Notre Dame.

It's not unusual for District students to attend private colleges in the northwest, such as College of Idaho and Pacific.  Colby, Santa Clara, and Westminster, are destinations for a few Boise students. 

Four other students are attending Boise State and the University of Idaho, and, if past trends continue, will likely stay in Idaho after college. However, most of the students attending out of state colleges will find internships and jobs outside of Idaho, at least initially.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Idaho Education News recently posted an op-ed by a Coeur d'Alene counselor questioning the wisdom of administering the College Board exam (the SAT) to juniors across the state of Idaho. In his article, entitled "Are College Classes and Entrance Exams Worth the Money?", the counselor also questioned the worth of dual-credit courses for some students.

Here's why we should continue with the SAT as a statewide exam for juniors.

  • The SAT, and the PSAT, its 10th grade counterpart, provide valuable information for students and parents about preparedness levels. And SAT results are almost universally accepted at higher learning institutions as part of the admissions process.
  • The SAT takes significantly less time than the SBAC, the required 10th grade exam in Idaho, because it is a paper-pencil exam. Particularly at the junior and senior high school levels, the computer-administered SBAC is a logistical nightmare, taking weeks out of the daily schedule and compromising preparation efforts for Advanced Placement exams, the results of which have earned Boise District students thousands of college credits. And the school and district scores for the SAT have actually been released in a timely fashion, unlike those from the SBAC.
  • The SBAC and PARCC consortia, the states using the tests created to assess Common Core standards under The Race to the Top legislation that replaced No Child Left Behind, have diminished severely over the past few years:

In an article in Education Next, authors Ashley Jochim and Patrick McGuinn detail the decline of the consortia:

"State participation in the consortia declined just as implementation of the new standards and tests was set to begin. The pace of withdrawals quickened over time, particularly for PARCC, which five or six states left every year between 2013 and 2015 (see Figure 1). As of May 2016, just six states planned to implement the PARCC-designed assessment in the 2016-17 academic year. SBAC also faced attrition but fared better and still retains 14 states that plan to use the full test. (That figure includes Iowa, where a legislative task force has overwhelmingly recommended the SBAC assessment, though as of early 2016 state officials had yet to formally accept the recommendation.) By early 2016, 38 states had left one or both consortia, short-circuiting the state-by-state comparability that the tests were designed to deliver (see Figure 2)."

Oregon has also decided to discontinue administration of the high school SBAC.

Conversely, administration of the statewide junior SAT exam has expanded. The 11th grade statewide SAT exam is now administered in Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island

  • Prominent researchers are now questioning the 2017 SBAC results, which declined in all 14 consortia states in English Language Arts. In an op-ed in Real Clear Politics written by Douglas McRae and Williamson Evers, the authors note:

"Across the country, 14 states used the federally-funded Smarter Balanced tests as part of their statewide K-12 testing programs in spring 2017. But the results for this year have an integrity problem...

...Smarter Balanced is stonewalling efforts to figure out what has occurred. It refuses to acknowledge that the 2017 scores are highly unusual and, instead, claims the scores are just normal year-to-year fluctuations of gain scores. That argument is hogwash. It is totally inconsistent with the actual 2017 consortium-wide gain data."

  • The SAT releases its test each year, and provides an item analysis for the exam, giving educators access to student response patterns and comparisons with school, state and national item data. We detailed the potential uses of SAT data in a post from 2016. Here's the example we used from 2016 and the rationale for using the data to improve instruction:

How does the distribution of student answers help us to improve instruction?

Well, 28% of District juniors answered "D". While we might speculate as to why they chose that answer, the fact is that 55+9 does not equate to √55+√9. Can we improve instruction so that more students understand this principle? Sure. And the item analysis gives us the tools to improve instruction and student performance.

College and university personnel can also use the statewide item analysis to isolate performance on each question and then use performance on a series of questions to determine placement in Math or Language Arts courses.

We sincerely hope that the state will renew the College Board contract for the PSAT and SAT when it comes up for review. In fact, with the decline in the numbers for the SBAC consortia, we ought to be looking at replacing the SBAC with the SAT as the state's Accountability Measure for high schools.