The Blaine County School District’s four-year graduation rate has outperformed pre-COVID rates and Idaho state averages, according to new data reported to the school board in February.
The graduation rate for all BCSD students was higher for the 2021-22 cohort than the 2020-21 cohort. Additionally, during that time the BCSD’s four-year graduation rate is higher than the Idaho average for all student subgroups, including white students, Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English language learners.
The numbers were presented to the board of trustees by Superintendent Jim Foudy and Assistant Superintendent Adam Johnson at the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 14.
Citing state Department of Education data, Johnson said that the districtwide four-year cohort graduation report increased from 83% for the 2020-21 group to 86% for 2021-22 group—six percentage points higher than the state average. The district surpased the state in subcategories, too, with white students six percentage points more likely to graduate; Hispanic students nine percentage points more likely; economically disadvantaged students eight percentage points; disabled students 17 percentage points; and English-language learners seven percentage points.
The graduation rate sat at nearly 85% for all subcategories of students in 2018-19. That number peaked at 88% in 2019-20, only to dip to 83% in 2020-21. Despite drops in the graduation rate, BCSD still outperformed the state average in all those years.
“I think there’s a celebration in this data is that we have surpassed our 2019 pre-COVID graduation rate,” Johnson said.
District sees significant growth in statewide testing
The ISAT test, administered to students K-3 in fall and spring, assesses skills needed for reading and math at each grade level, with additional “screener” tests extending to grades 4-5 for some students. The results of the test classify students into three tiers that dictate if they are at, near/below or well below their grade level in both subjects.
According to the report, Tier 1, at-grade-level students, grew the most in reading from fall to winter percentages. Tier 1 growth was also seen in many grade levels in math. Despite those successes, there was significant reduction in Tier 1 performance at grades three and four.
Johnson reported that this reduction in performance numbers is likely due to outside factors that are pervasive at all schools in the district and may require further discussion on alignment of curriculum across the district.
“Grades three and four as a whole saw reduction in Tier 1 performance fall to winter,” Johnson said. “When you see the whole system like that, it indicates that you have a curriculum alignment problem, or the testing company has an issue with their fall screening criteria. Overall, we are very satisfied by the progress we are seeing.”
The district has seen nearly 300 English-learning students enrolled this school year, the board noted, meaning that many new students are being tested in a language that they are not familiar with, impacting the cumulative numbers of the reading portion of the exam.
“We’ve seen about 300 newcomers enrolled in the district this year—the most significant is at Alturas Elementary at about 70 new students,” Foudy added. “Many of the newcomers that enrolled have not necessarily been in any formal education past third grade, and we are wrestling with that.”
Johnson said there is still successes to be found in their growth outside of statewide reading tests.
“As a whole, we were pleased with our progress, in particular on the reading portion of the exam,” he said. “We’re still a bit short of being on track to meet the goals we set in the continuous improvement plan. Students who are new to the country are being tested on their reading and English proficiency from the first day they enroll, and with the influx of new students who come with limited English proficiency, I think we’re making really good growth. All of our students have showed significant growth, but adding that population changed our overall cumulative data.”
The report stated the the numbers will help the board build “principles to carry data analysis to a more local level within building leadership teams and grade level professional learning communities” to ensure that there is more focus on individual student learning needs and grade-level curriculum alignment needs. ￼
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I'm a little stunned to see no mention of I Have a Dream Foundation and their contribution to these statistics. Last year, 100% of the dream scholars graduated. IHDF continues to grow and will contribute to continued improvement in the graduation rate.
Correct me if I am wrong. The first IHD cohort from just Alturas was shepherded through school since 1st or 2nd grade and 100% of that first group graduated which is wonderful.
They are now working with 40 second grade students total selected from Bellevue, Alturas, and Hailey Elementary Schools and will support those 40 as they advance through school. Those students will graduate in 10 years in 2033.
Are they currently supporting BCSD students in 3rd - 12th grade?
Yes. Check out the website: https://www.ihdfidaho.org/
For 25% increase in spend per student (not just the money--but what it is spent on), you get a much better outcome for that student. Not are they 50% more likely to graduate, but IHDF is committed to post-graduation success, with placement in college, vocational school, military, etc. Every dream scholar knows what they will be doing when they graduate.
Disclosure: I am on their advisory board.
It is a great program! They worked with one group of 2nd grade students who have now graduated - this was the first cohort from our valley from Alturas elementary. They are now working with another 40 who will graduate in 10 years.
In our Valley they definitely have an impact on their 40 students for the 10 years they work with them - but in those 10 years they don’t work with any other BCSD students other than the 40, do they? One group of 40 and only those 40 all the way through then they start the cycle again. Current K, 1st and 3rd - 12th students are not a part the program. Didn’t find information to the contrary on the website.
Working with 40 students in each grade 2nd - 12th would require an additional $1.8 million every year, and where would you get that many more long term dedicated volunteers for the additional grades to put in the kind of work the volunteers they have now do?
Welcome to the discussion.