Thursday, October 10, 2019


Idaho is one of four states that currently provides no state funding for preschool programming. The status of pre-K educational opportunities in Idaho for kids ages 3 – 5 includes federally funded programs like Head Start, private preschools, as well as programs with funding sources from local governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, and school districts.

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC) has been given approval from Governor Little to submit a grant proposal to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to develop a strategic plan to assess and facilitate collaboration and coordination among existing programs of early childhood care and education across the state.  Idaho is one of six states along with several territories that has been singled out and encouraged to submit a Preschool Development Grant.

There are lots of studies that reveal the benefits of preschool programs for children preparing to enter school. One such study was conducted by a task force of scientists from Georgetown University, Vanderbilt, Duke, the Brookings Institution, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California Irvine, University of Wisconsin Madison, and the University of Michigan. Their report, “The Current State of ScientificKnowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects” (2017) reviewed the current status of preschool education in the United States. Some of their major findings include:

  •  All kids benefit from preschool, but poor and disadvantaged kids make the most gains.
  • Dual language learners show large benefits in both developing English language proficiency and academic skills
  • Successful programs rely on well implemented evidenced-based curriculum delivered by teachers that have received quality training
Nationwide nearly 55% of 3-5 year-olds attend a center-based preschool program. That means that 45% of preschool aged children do not participate in any early childhood programs. The percentage of preschool participation increases to 75-80% if the family income is over $97,000. Families with income levels at or below the poverty level are more likely (50%) to participate in federally subsidized programs like Head Start, designed to serve these families. The percentage participation drops below 50% for families with incomes between the federal poverty level ($24,250) and $48,500.

In a recent parent survey conducted by the RISE Prepared for School Workgroup, 53.4% of the Treasure Valley parents who responded to the survey said their children were enrolled in a preschool program. In Canyon County, which has a higher level of poverty than the surrounding area, that percentage dropped to 44%.  According to the survey, the number one reason for parents not to enroll their children in a program was cost.

And what are the benefits of preschool for children? 

Here’s one example from a rural community in the Treasure Valley with a high percentage of poverty (61% of its children in grades K-3 are eligible for free and reduced lunches):

The Weiser School District conducted an informal study of the preparedness of children for kindergarten by administering a pre-reading and math assessment when those children registered for school.  The children who had been enrolled in a center-based preschool program scored twice as high on the readiness assessment. In the most recent administration of the fall IRI (2019) those children who had participated in a preschool program scored significantly higher on the iStation reading assessment than those students who had not participated. Fifty percent (50%) of the children who had participated in preschool were rated “at grade level” on their first IRI compared to 12% of their peers who had not participated in any program. 

The evidence continues to mount in favor of providing pre-school opportunities for children in Idaho. 

Monday, September 30, 2019


The Brookings Study

Back In August, Boise Schools posted an entry on the Data Points blog entitled "Findings of the Brookings Study and Our Idaho Reality". In the study, the Brookings authors explained that they look at rates of "some college attendance" in communities to evaluate where the economic health of those communities stands and where it may be going. They expect that in tech-heavy communities like Boise, 80% of students must have completed some college for the community to thrive.

Boise was one of the communities they evaluated, but they used Idaho statewide data to evaluate  economic prospects. The Data Points post used college-going data from the State Board of Education to take a look at where Treasure Valley schools stand.

According to the Boise post, in which they looked at individual high schools around the state, college-going is related to poverty at the high school level. So high schools like Eagle, Boise, Timberline, Mountain View, Rocky Mountain, and Centennial, all in the Boise and West Ada Districts, and all with very low free/reduced lunch percentages, all have "some college completion" rates close to or above 80%  three years after high school graduation. 

Other high schools in the valley such as Borah, Meridian, and the Nampa, Caldwell, and Vallivue schools, have much lower "some college completion" rates, and much higher percentages of free/reduced lunch.

An example of a district that has high percentages of free/reduced lunch and high "some college completion" rates is Parma, a district just west of Caldwell. A district benefactor established what equates to a "Promise Scholarship" fund many years ago which has helped Parma maintain a high "some college completion" percentage. 

It's an interesting post, well worth reading.

RISE/TVEP Senior Exit Survey

This week, RISE/TVEP will release its Senior Exit Survey results and have a meeting surrounding the results. It's another fascinating report, featuring data for the students of Treasure Valley large high schools, absent West Ada, which opted not to participate.

This year's exit survey saw some changes to particular questions, which means that results from previous years are not comparable and should not be compared to 2019 results. The questions asked in this version are, from our perspective, much improved. Over 4300 Treasure Valley students participated in the survey.

The Senior Exit Survey was administered by Dr. Jean Henscheid (principal investigator for the project), Dr. Matt Vaarstra, and Dr. Christie Fuller

Among the most important findings from this year's survey:

  • 68% of students planned to continue their education immediately after high school - 48% at a 4=year college, 16% at a 2-year college, and 4% at a trade or technical school. Fewer than 50% of Idaho's seniors typically actually do "go on".
  • Almost 60% of seniors indicated that they decided whether or not they'd go on in 11th or 12th grade.
  • 76% of students indicated they had completed the FAFSA.  The majority said they had no issues completing it.
  • Not wanting to take on debt is the most important factor for students as they decide what to do after high school.
  • Though 81% of students said they planned to pay for college with scholarships...a quarter said they had not applied for any scholarships.
  • 70% said they plan to work while going to college.
  • Most high school seniors say they need help with money and with "adulting".
  • More and more seniors are working part-time and taking AP or dual credit courses; fewer are involved in leadership opportunities, clubs and sports, or apprenticeships and internships.
The Senior Exit Survey provides excellent information and supports much of what the Boise District noted about the Brookings study. Money for college  is a primary factor for Treasure Valley high school students, and they are leery of taking on debt. They also clearly indicate the need for advice on how to do college and how to do "adulting".


As noted in the previous post, RISE/TVEP was formed out of a need to bring together partners around educational topics and a desire to make progress for Treasure Valley students, specifically students in the schools of the Southern Idaho Conference.

The SIC spans districts across the Treasure Valley, and its schools educate over 40% of the students in the state of Idaho. The Districts and schools in the SIC are Bishop Kelly High School (700 students), Boise (25,500), Caldwell (6,400), Emmett (2,450), Kuna (5,400), Middleton (4,100), Mountain Home (3,900), Nampa (14,000), Vallivue (9,100), and West Ada (39,500). That's about 36% of the students in the state (all numbers courtesy Idaho Department of Education, fall 2018).

Southern Idaho Conference districts are also demographically diverse. Nampa, Caldwell, and Vallivue have large populations of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch, and many students who are classified as Limited English. Boise has a large population of Limited English students, as well, and abut half of those students are refugees from locations around the world.

A Brief History

Originally, the SIC Superintendents met to discuss important issues in athletics for the conference. Beginning in the early 2000's, the meetings took on increased importance as the leaders began to address curricular and programmatic issues in academics.

In 2010, the Superintendents of the SIC took a stand against Students Come First, the series of laws passed by the Idaho Legislature as part of a plan to curtail union rights, implement Pay for Performance, and reduce teacher staffing by providing computers and requiring online classes for high school graduation. In the ensuing grass roots initiative process to overturn SCF, the three provisions, now in code, became know as the Luna Laws. 

In November, 2012, all three of the Luna Laws were overturned at the ballot box in an historic vote. 

Afterward, SIC Superintendents, local business organizations, and non-profits in the Treasure Valley met to pick up the pieces and find a way forward. Their efforts began what was known as the Treasure Valley Educational Partnership. TVEP was constituted to provide a space in which progress could be made on issues such as adequate preparation for school, success during the school years, and improving the prospects for post-secondary education.

Going Forward

Strive Together is the primary sponsoring agency for RISE/TVEP. The Strive Network includes over seventy partnerships, and two in Idaho (the Treasure Valley and Pocatello). Strive Together's goals for the next five years includes a "deeper focus on systems change and additional sectors that affect educational outcomes and underlie disparities".

In our Treasure Valley partnership, that means that we will maintain our focus on data-driven committee work, and engage further in systemic change efforts, in conjunction with non-profit, business and college and university partners, such as:

  • early childhood opportunities across the valley
  • college preparation programs such as AVID
  • wrap-around service programs such as Community Schools
  • mentoring and  scholarship programs that improve college-going prospects for students
We also will ramp up our efforts to:
  • promote the great things our schools are doing
  • engage about proposed policies and laws that affect k-12 education
  • advocate on issues of importance to our school districts
In our efforts, we will work to promote the interests of students in the Treasure Valley. We know the power of collective impact, and look forward to working with our educational partners to foster positive growth in our system.

Monday, September 16, 2019


Welcome to RISE TVEP's new blogspot, The RISE Review. Don Coberly and Wil Overgaard, the new Co-Directors of this unique organization, are excited to create an arena for sharing information and ideas on how RISE TVEP and its partners can accomplish its vision of “ensuring success of every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career”.

RISE TVEP began as a collaborative partnership between school districts, businesses, non-profit organizations, colleges, and universities in the Treasure Valley to study and explore current practices and opportunities available to Treasure Valley youth enrolled in public schools in an effort to improve student outcomes by identifying initiatives and resources with a high probability and potential for creating positive system change and positive outcomes for students that can be measured and duplicated in communities across the state.  

Any effort to improve outcomes for students must be predicated on research, good data collection and analysis, and adoption and implementation of best practices to make such changes effective and permanent.

Don Coberly and Wil Overgaard with their combined 79 years of experience as educators in Idaho, in large and small schools, urban and rural schools, and in working with students with diverse backgrounds, are committed to assisting RISE TVEP and its partners accomplish its vision. The Treasure Valley is home to the largest number of school districts, students, and educators in Idaho.  Successful initiatives and system change here can have major implications for school districts, students, and educators across the state of Idaho.

Don and Wil, the recently retired superintendents of the Boise School District and the Weiser School District, are contemporaries and products of Idaho’s educational system in their own preparation and training. Don and Wil are committed to improving outcomes for all Idaho students by involving themselves in research and advocacy. They are also interested in highlighting the success of Idaho schools that have implemented innovative and effective strategies that have had positive outcomes for students.

Don and Wil look forward to engaging with all RISE TVEP partners with similar interests in promoting the organization’s commitment to seeking initiatives that will help prepare children for school, succeed academically, and move successfully into some form of post-secondary training.

Here's a brief video introduction of the new RISE/TVEP Co-directors.

ASSESSING THE STATUS OF  EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN IDAHO Idaho is one of four states that currently provides no state funding f...