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Recent Idaho education data shows increase in graduation rates, but lower overall achievement

by RACHEL SUN
Staff Writer | May 21, 2021 1:00 AM

Recent data published by Idaho Education News shows Idaho improved its graduation rate in 2020 to 82.1% compared with 80.7% the year before.

Graduation rates improved across the board, including among students with disabilities and Hispanic and Latino students, though it fell below the state’s goal of 89.9%, according to the report.

Among students with disabilities, rates went up 3% to 59%. Migrant students went up 6% to 70.3% graduation rates, However, English Language Learner graduation rates decreased nearly 10 percentage points to 64.6%.

Among 2020 high school graduates, the immediate “Go-On Rate” for secondary education dropped to 38%, a 7 percentage point drop from the previous year, according to the report.

In testing, meanwhile, numerous tests were canceled in the spring of 2020 because of the pandemic. Fall reading scores, meanwhile, showed that 51% of kindergarten, first and second-grade students combined had not reached grade level for reading, compared to 45% in 2019 and 47% in 2018.

Among third-grade students, 42% had not reached grade level, compared to 36% in 2019 and 39% in 2018, according to the report.

Schools recently completed spring testing this year, but that data is not yet available.

In regards to SAT scores, Idaho also saw a decline — for the third year in a row. 5&% of graduates met college and career readiness benchmarks for reading and writing in 2020, compared to 60% the year before, according to the report. 34% met math benchmarks, and roughly 32% met both math and language sections. 40% met neither.

In 2020, the average Idaho SAT score was 984, compared to 993 the year before. Nationally, that number dropped from 1059 in 2019 to 1051 2020. The highest possible score for the SAT is 1600.

Enrollment in K-12 schools, meanwhile, dropped by roughly 4,500 students, or 1.6% of students, according to the report. Before 2020, schools had grown around 1.3% each year. The largest school districts were also the ones with the biggest drop in enrollment.

That drop is the first in decades, but was accompanied by significant growth in virtual schools and charter schools. There were also five new charter schools added, according to the report. That increase is expected to continue.

In the 2019-2020 school year, for instance, the Idaho Virtual Academy saw 1,736 students enrolled. In 2020-2021, that number more than doubled to 3,818.