Monday, January 30, 2017


Recently we wrote about the dustup revolving around the McRel audit (or desk report) on a sample of 2014-15 educator evaluations, in which two elements that were not required in 2014-15 were used as part of the analysis, causing 99% of the evals to be judged as incomplete or inaccurate. 

Well, the resulting furor has caused confusion among legislators and State Board members, and unnecessarily made the long-term future of the Career Ladder a bit murky. It's also resulted in a huge imposition upon districts around the state, as the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education have now both requested educator evaluation information.

The SBOE has requested a sampling of 2015-16 evaluation documents for particular administrators, in order to do an audit of those evals. The SDE has requested information with respect to all evaluations done in 2015-16.

In this post we will focus on the SDE request, which once again includes elements not required for some 2015-16 evaluations. This time, the "student success indicators" and "professional learning plans" are listed as elements that school districts must report for all Pupil Personnel Certificate holders.

However, when the Career Ladder first became a law, "Pupil Services" personnel (such as counselors, school psychologists, nurses, speech and language pathologists, social workers, and audiologists) were not a part of it because suitable measures of student success as required by the law had not yet been developed. These pupil services personnel became a part of the Career Ladder in the current school year (2016-17).

When the data were submitted to the SDE for 2015-16 evals, districts were required to answer "No" for the areas of submission required for Pupil Services employees. But those elements were not required for these employees because they had not yet been placed on the Career Ladder.

As you can see, some educators did not receive an evaluation because of extenuating circumstances. When teachers retire, resign, or are on leave, we typically do not complete and evaluation. When they are hired late in the year, we normally conduct their first evaluation the following year. In any event, the total number of educator evals conducted was 1783.

There has been some confusion across the state as to which employees in "support" roles should be included on the Career Ladder (Athletic Directors, Librarians, etc.). Here's a recounting of those evals compared to the total number of evaluations. Note that if all "incomplete" evals were counted against us, our percentage of "accurate" and "complete" evals would have been 1640 out of 1784, or 86%.

However, as you can see in the chart above, fully 197 staff were missing components that were not required for them in 2015-16. That leaves 44 employees, 17 of whom likely should have been on the Career Ladder, but for whom the District was awaiting guidance, and 27 others whose evaluations were truly not complete.

So even if the misclassified employees are included as incomplete, just 44 of 1783 evals were not done correctly, meaning that 1739, or 97.4% were "complete" and "accurate". Though we'd like to be at 100%, and will work toward that goal, 97% is a good start.

Incidentally, of the 1784 educator evals completed, 1764 were rated as "Proficient", and 19 were rated as "Basic" or Unsatisfactory". We have written previously that we know the vast majority of District teachers are doing a great job in the classroom. The "probationary" period for teachers is in the first 3 years, and especially in the first year, when 5% - 8% of teachers opt out of the profession or are counseled not to return for the following year.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Followers of this blog are aware that enrollment in Advanced Placement coursework has exploded in the past two decades, as the District has added coursework, implemented programs such as AVID, and taken down barriers to enrollment.


Here's a chart showing the Boise students taking one or more AP tests expressed as a percentage of juniors and seniors over the years, compared with the "pass rate" (exams scored 3 and above) for those same students.

So, as we anticipated, the overall "pass rate" for AP tests taken in the Boise District has declined from about 3/4 to about 2/3 in the past twenty years (the 2016 national rate was 58%; the Idaho rate (without Boise) was 60%.

However, less than 1 in 10 students (as a percentage of juniors and seniors) took an exam in 1995. Last year, the ratio was 52%. This chart is truly illustrative of the progress we've made in providing rigorous opportunities for kids.


The State Board of Education posted a Dual Credit report in 2015 in which they wrote about the college-going habits of high school students enrolling in dual credit classes. 71% of students passing dual credit classes enrolled in college, and 70% of those students returned for a second year. For non-dual credit students, the figures were 45% enrolling and 55% returning for a second year. So, almost 50% of dual credit students were still enrolled in sophomore year, while only a quarter of non-dual credit students were still enrolled.

We were curious how this kind of comparison played out for students who took one or more Advanced Placement tests during their high school careers. We took a look at the class of 2013, and analyzed the "go-on" rate for the class and the percentage of those that went to college who were still enrolled in the fall of 2016.

The results of the study were impressive. Of seniors in the class of 2013 who took one or more AP tests in high school, 91% enrolled in college, and 81% were still enrolled or have graduated 3 years later

Here are the data by Boise School District high school:

By way of explanation, the first column in the above chart reflects the percentage of class of 2013 students who took one or more AP tests and enrolled in college after graduation (Boise High percentage - 94%). The second column is the college enrollment percentage for all 2013 graduates (Boise - 70%). The third column is the percentage of graduate AP test takers who were enrolled after 3 years (Boise - 89%), and the fourth column is the percentage of the 2013 class enrolled after 3 years (Boise - 68%).

Now, it makes sense that a higher percentage of AP test-takers would have enrolled in college than of the total graduating class. Many AP students come from supportive families that have the resources to assist students with college expenses. That would have especially been true back in the time when only a small percentage of Boise high school students took AP coursework.

However, with the growth of the Advanced Placement program, more students than ever are accessing rigorous coursework, and the percentage of those students attending and staying in college is extremely high. In fact, if most of the class of 2013 students who've been in college for three years graduate, the percentage with degrees and certificates will far exceed the State Board's goal of 60% of students ages 25-34 having a post-secondary degree or certificate. 

No matter the college or university, students who took one or more AP tests in high school stay in college at far higher rates than do students in the overall population of the college or university.

AP test-takers also go to out-of-state colleges more often than Boise's college attendees as a whole. In general, about 2/3 of Boise college-goers attend in-state colleges. Among AP test-taker, the percentage is 55% in-state ad 45% out-of-state.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Here are some interesting articles and opinions from around the web.

We are alerted to some of these articles via Peter Greene's excellent blog, Curmudgucation. However, this first one is about two of our refugee students and their ongoing successes.

This is a feature from the International Rescue Committee's online journal that will touch your heart. Two brothers, Patrick and George Ngalamulume, former Borah students, are enrolled at the University of Idaho. Patrick is a senior and George a freshman. They both are originally from Zambia, and were in the Borah Bridge program. George was one of our designated AVID program speakers at Rotary, IBE, and other organizations. 

Patrick and George are truly ambassadors for refugees and for opportunities that have been made available to them in America. Patrick wants to be an attorney and George a doctor. Their stories are inspirational.

Among quotes from the brothers:

"To have the doors [shut] on refugees will greatly have a negative impact on the United States," George says. “You’ll miss out on so many opportunities. The next Einstein is not going to be here because America closed the doors. You’d miss out on having me as a doctor and [my brother] as a lawyer.”

The Red Queen, by Jennifer Berkshire (Edushyster)

Jennifer Berkshire, an education blogger from Massachusetts, writes as Edushyster. She traveled to Michigan to conduct interviews with a number of people affected by Betsy Devos' efforts to undermine public education in the state. Fascinating read.

"...The real goal of the DeVos family is to crush the state’s teachers unions as a means of undermining the Democratic party, weakening Michigan’s democratic structures along the way. And on this front, our likely next Secretary of Education has enjoyed measurable, even dazzling success."

Time to Eliminate 3rd Grade Reading Retention by Rob Miller (View from the Edge)

Miller is a teacher in the state of Oklahoma, one of a number of states that retain third graders who do not read on grade level. There's plenty of research demonstrating the negative effects of retention, but Miller makes an eloquent argument for providing the resources to help these students succeed instead of punishing them with retention. 

Third grade retention was part of the original reading bill in the 2016 legislature, but was removed after significant outcry. The version of the bill that passed the legislature invests in providing resources to improve reading skills.

Inside Sears' Death Spiral..., by Hayley Peterson (Business Insider)

This one is not directly related to education, but anyone thinking that "running schools like a business" is a good idea should read this post, which details the mismanagement and decline of this venerable company.

Peterson writes, "Interviews with dozens of store-level and corporate employees over the past year yielded a common refrain: (Sears CEO) Lampert is out of touch with reality.

"He refuses to put a dime in updating stores," one former vice president said. "You walk in and you are embarrassed as an employee when the ceilings are leaking and the floors are cracked."

"No one believes in Eddie's vision," this person said. "He has just gone rogue."

Business Insider spoke to several store-level employees who said the stores are severely understaffed, with some operating on fewer than half of the employees they need. That has led to widespread complaints among shoppers that they can't find an employee to check them out, so they end up leaving the store empty-handed."