Luna amazed 62% of Idaho schools met performance targets

Credit: KTVB

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna

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by Justin Corr

Bio | Email | Follow: @JCorrKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 7:11 AM

BOISE -- Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he's not disappointed at all that less than two-thirds of the state's schools met their performance targets last year.

Luna said he's amazed that schools were able to score as high as they did with the high targets set and current funding issues.

"In order for a school in Idaho to make A.Y.P they have to hit some pretty high goals," said Luna.

Luna described Idaho's Adequate Yearly Progress goals, or performance targets, as this:

First, each school divides up its students into about 41 different categories.

In each of those categories, 85 percent of the students need to be proficient in reading and 83 percent of the students need to be proficient in math.

Sixty-two percent of Idaho schools met these requirements for last school year, which is the same rate as the year before.

However, just last Friday, the State Board of Education decided it would not boost the standards as expected from No Child Left Behind to close to 90 percent proficiency. One board member said Idaho was ditching higher benchmarks.

But Luna said Idaho already has very lofty standards and it would be financially irresponsible to push them too high.

"We would've identified another 150 schools that 85 percent of their students are proficient in reading, 83 percent are proficient in math," said Luna. "But because they're not up to the 90 percent, we're going to label them as 'needs improvement.' What's really critical is we would force them to take a considerable amount of their federal funding and spend it differently."

Luna is coming off a legislative session where his 'Students Come First' education reform plan was passed and signed into law despite numerous protests and heated public comment.

After thousands of signatures were collected, the laws that make up the plan will be put to a vote of the people in 2012. Luna believes that vote, happening with the education laws on the books for more than a year, only helps his case to keep them law.

"They're going to see the reality of these laws and they're going to see the benefit of these laws, and I'm very comfortable that these laws will be upheld by the voters of Idaho," said Luna.

KTVB also asked Luna about the new Idaho Education Association (teachers' union) president Penny Cyr. He and the union were at odds for most of the legislative session.

Luna said while he hasn't talked to Cyr yet, he's ready to work with anyone who wants to put the education of students first.

Luna also addressed a rumored gubernatorial bid. He said right now implementing the 'Students Come First' education plan has his full attention.

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