Schools earn mixed academic rating results

While the number of high-performing schools across Idaho increased this year, results were mixed for Power County schools, according to the most recent results of Idaho’s Five-Star Rating System.

This is the second year the state has reported results under its new system of increased accountability that focuses on multiple measures, including academic growth. The Idaho State Department of Education and State Board of Education worked closely with parents, educators and community members in 2011 to develop the Five-Star Rating System.

In Power County, American Falls High School went from a Four Star school last year to a Five Star school this year, raising their overall score from 69 to 87 out of a possible 100. William Thomas Middle School remained at a Three Star status, scoring 58 this year compared to 65 last year. American Falls Intermediate School dropped from a Four Star to a Three Star school, with its score dropping from 71 to 64. Hillcrest Elementary School moved to Four Star status from Three Star last year, increasing its score from 60 to 80.

The Rockland School, meanwhile, dropped from Five Star to Four Star with scores of 89 last year and 81 this year.

Aberdeen High School remained a Five Star school and Aberdeen Middle School remained a Four Star school with scores respectively of 86 and 88 for the high school and matching 72s at the middle school. Aberdeen Elementary School, however, dropped from a Four Star to a Three Star school with scores of 68 and 54.

Under the Five Star Rating System, schools with grades kindergarten through eighth are measured on academic growth (how much progress students have made academically), as well as the number of students who reach grade level or higher on the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT).

High schools are measured based on academic growth, the number of students who reach grade level (or higher) on the ISAT as well as on measures of student success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Those measures include a school’s graduation rate, the number of students enrolled in and successfully completing advanced courses with a C or better, and student scores on college entrance exams. The state currently pays for all students to take the SAT or ACCUPLACER.

All schools, no matter the grade level, also are measured on participation by demonstrating they have tested at least 95 percent of their students.

After calculating these measures, each school receives a Star Rating on a scale of one to five, one being the lowest-performing and five being the highest-performing.

Here is a brief description of each Star Rating:

• Four Star and Five Star schools will be publicly recognized and celebrated for their excellent performance as top-performing schools across Idaho. These schools will serve as examples to other schools.

• Three Star schools will be recognized as doing a good job for students because most students have met the academic benchmarks set by the state. These schools will be required to develop improvement plans for the few areas in which they still need improvement.

• One Star and Two Star schools are schools identified for areas of improvement. These schools will develop school improvement plans tied to research-based best practices, and the State Department of Education will focus intense time and resources to provide the support necessary to raise academic achievement and close achievement gaps in these schools.

More than half of Idaho’s schools – 385 schools – were rated as Four Star and Five Star schools this year, compared to 379 last year. Another 175 Idaho schools were rated as Three Star schools this year, also an increase from last year. Eighty-eight schools statewide were rated as One Star and Two Star schools.

Previously, under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the state evaluated schools only on a measure known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, which focused primarily on whether or not the students in a school passed the ISAT. Idaho received a waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind law last year so the state now can use the multiple measures under the Five Star Rating System to evaluate a school’s performance.

Other highlights of the academic results across Idaho this year include:

• 158 schools advanced at least one Star Rating this year over last year.

• 90 percent of Idaho students scored at or above grade level in reading and 82.2 percent of students scored at or above grade level in mathematics.

• 50.8 percent of students scored advanced (above grade level) in reading, and 43.1 percent scored advanced (above grade level) in mathematics.

• The number of high school juniors taking a college entrance exam on Idaho SAT School Day increased from 16,501 test takers last year to 16,921 this year.

The Star Ratings for each school announced this year are set to remain in place for two years as the state transitions to a new assessment. Idaho is working with a consortium of states to develop a new, more robust assessment aligned to Idaho’s higher academic standards. The new assessment will not simply be multiple-choice like the ISAT but will include several question types, including open response and technology-enhanced items. The state will field test the new assessment in Spring 2014 before administering it for accountability purposes for the first time in Spring 2015. Until it is fully administered in Spring 2015, the state will keep the current Star Ratings in place for Idaho schools.



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