Sunday, May 29, 2016


Boise District graduates choose universities and college spread across the United States. However, the majority of grads stay in-state and attend the University of Idaho, Boise State University, or Idaho State University.

But recently, a trend has been developing.  A number of Boise District grads are choosing to attend the University of Utah or Utah State University. Though the Utah/USU connection only accounts for about 3% of students who "go on" the number has been climbing for several years.

For the class of 2015, 33 students enrolled at the University of Utah, while 25 enrolled at Utah State. Throw in the typically annual enrollment at two popular private schools, Westminster College and Brigham Young University, and the total for the class of 2015 was about 80, over double the total for the class of 2008.

Utah and Utah State are part of the public university system in the state of Utah. A Utah legislature code provision provides the rules by which a non-resident student can qualify for resident tuition at Utah public universities after the first year of college at those institutions.

Furthermore, multiple scholarship opportunities are available for non-resident students, and can be seen here and here.

So what types of students are choosing the two public Utah universities? Well, it turns out that the Utah enrollees are highly-qualified and highly capable students from all four comprehensive high schools in Boise.

Enrollment at the two institutions is not evenly split among District high schools. In 2015, 27 Timberline students enrolled at Utah and USU. From Borah and Capital, it was 9 each. From Boise High, 13 students enrolled, all at the University of Utah.

Enrollment at out of state institutions typically ebbs and flows among popular schools. The University of Oregon and the University of Puget Sound were both very popular in 2008, but enrollment has fallen off somewhat since then.

However, the attraction of in-state tuition at the two Utah schools is strong, and most of the class of 2015 students received some form of merit aid, we assume. Additionally, a five-hour freeway drive (and one-hour flight) to Utah may be preferable for some students to the seven hour drive up U.S 95 to Idaho. 

If the talk among students at last week's graduations is any indication, the number of students headed to Logan and Salt Lake City is going up, not down, for the class of 2016.

Monday, May 2, 2016



An Interesting Look at the Implementation of Vouchers

In an article for the Education Opportunity Network, Jeff Bryant provides some research and opinion about implementation in various states where legislatures have passed laws allowing vouchers. 

With the recent conversation in Idaho's legislature about rescinding the Blaine Amendment to the Idaho Constitution , Bryant's article seems timely. He writes, with citations:

"First, there is the issue of church and state separation. All research shows that most of the money voucher programs redirect from public schools to private institutions ends up going to religious schools. In D.C., 80 percent of voucher users attend religion-based private schools. North Carolina’s relatively new voucher program sends 93 percent of its money to “faith-based schools.”

Clearly, Bryant is opposed to the idea of vouchers. But so are the majority of American people. In the most recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on education,  63% opposed vouchers.

Money, Race, and Success

From the outstanding New York Times research publication The Upshot comes an article about the results of a fascinating research study  showing the relationship among poverty, race, and educational achievement. In the interactive chart featured in the article, authors Motoko Rich, Amanda Cox, and Matthew Bloch allow readers to input a school district name and see how it compares to others across the country in terms of achievement and poverty.

Their findings:

  • "Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts."
  • "There are large gaps between white children and their black and hispanic classmates. The gaps are largest in places with large economic disparities."
  • "Even in districts where white students and their minority classmates had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, academic gaps persisted."
William E. Borah Scholars Honored

Last week, Borah High School honored its 6 William E. Borah Scholars, their parents, and their teachers at a dinner at the Cottonwood Grill.

The six scholars (left to right) and their choices for college next year:

Mark Jerome, United States Military Academy at West Point
Hunter Inman, Gonzaga University
Phillip Cathers, Stanford University
Jessica Meyer, The College of Idaho
Pablo Piedra, Duke University
Eva Chung, The College of Idaho

Successful W.E.B. Scholars must have a 3.7 unweighted GPA, be endorsed by the Borah faculty, have taken at least one Advanced Placement course in Social Studies, English, and Science, and Math, and two in Science, and have earned "points" by taking other rigorous coursework while in high school.

Phillip Cathers speaks at the W.E.B. Scholar dinner

Each Scholar spoke at the W.E.B. Scholars dinner, addressing factors which made him/her successful in high school, giving credit to teachers who influenced him/her, and thanking parents for all they have done for them. It was truly a magical evening.

Congratulations, 2016 William Edgar Borah Scholars!

Sunday, May 1, 2016


The American Association of School Administrators is promoting its new initiative, which urges consideration of numerous factors in determining if a student is "ready" for college, instead of reliance on one variable such as a "point in time" test.

"Redefining Ready", as the initiative is called, starts with a minimum GPA, and then provides a range of criteria in addition, of which a student should meet one or more to be considered "ready".

Here are the specifics of the Redefining Ready"initiative:

So minimally a student might have a 2.8+ GPA in high school and have gotten a "C" or better in Algebra 2, a 500 on each subtest of the SAT, a "C' or better in an AP or Dual Credit course, or a 3+ score on an AP test, and be considered "college ready".  This addresses the issue of the student who passes an AP or Dual Credit course and fails to meet the mark on the SAT or ACT - the student has demonstrated "College Readiness" on one measure but not on another.

We did some research on the class of 2016 (current seniors) to see how many met the GPA requirement. What we found was that 72% of our seniors met this first criterion. It will take a bit more research to see how many students who met the GPA requirement met one or more of the others, but we know that GPA is the most important predictor of college readiness.

However, use of these criteria could help parents understand what it takes for their child(ren) to demonstrate readiness, and that it's more than one high-stakes measure.

AASA is also promoting a "Career Ready" about which we are more uncertain:

Though some of the criteria for "Career Readiness" seem appropriate,  it seems that 90% attendance and 25 hours of community service might be appropriate for all students, not just those who are going to college. Perhaps the GPA requirement, attendance, and community service indicators could all be base requirements, and some combination of additional requirements might equal readiness for "Life After High School".

However, AASA has done a really good job of identifying multiple factors that are important for success, no matter the route students choose after they graduate from high school.