This holiday season, I am tremendously thankful for the opportunity of serving Idaho schools and families as Superintendent of Public Instruction for the past eight years. I especially want to thank my staff and educators in schools across the state for their amazing energy, innovation and commitment to our cause of helping Idaho students achieve and succeed.

We have made significant progress, and as I near the end of my tenure I feel confident that our shared strides forward – in teacher compensation, in early literacy, in student and parent involvement, technology and more – bode well for the future.

One impressive and very promising return on investment can be seen in our intensive new early literacy program SMART (Striving to Meet Achievement in Reading Together), which immerses K-3 teachers in the science of reading, providing skilled coaching and collaboration to give their students the best possible start in literacy and learning. Feedback from teachers and parents has been overwhelmingly positive, and this fall it was backed up by analysis of the past year’s results on the statewide reading assessment.

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