BOISE -- A national non-profit is giving Idaho a C minus in its latest survey of education in America. But one state spokeswoman says that grade will only get better.
The annual Quality Counts Education Survey is conducted by Education Week, thanks to a partnership of the states.
Maryland sits on top of the survey with a grade of 87.8. South Dakota is on the bottom with a 68.1.
But Idaho is just less than two points above that with a 70 (6.3 points below the national average of 76.3). Idaho tied with Nevada at a disappointing 47th in the nation, overall.
The study takes into account factors like, 'chance for success,' 'K-through-12 achievement,' and 'standards, assessments, and accountability' (Idaho's high national test scores helped it to a B+ in that category).
Idaho students are performing very well in K-12, compared to other states across the nation, especially when it comes to math and reading, said Melissa McGrath with the Idaho Department of Education. But we do struggle when it comes to our students going on after high school.
The state's overall score was dragged down by D's and almost last place finishes in 'transitions and alignment,' 'teaching profession,' and 'school finance.' Those low marks came from things like Idaho not having teacher merit pay and not moving kids on to college.
(Those are) two areas in which we really struggled in the survey this current year, but in which we'll excel in future years, said McGrath.
She says those weak spots are being addressed by the education reform laws approved last year, which include merit pay and other reforms.
Through Students Come First we will make sure every student graduates from high school, is ready to go on to post-secondary education or the workforce, and not need remediating once they get there, said McGrath. I think, as a result, we'll do better in national surveys.
First, the Students Come First Plan has a major hurdle later this year, as it must survive a vote of the people on the November ballot. But regardless, McGrath believes factors like geography and cost of living in Idaho can skew the state's grade. She says education in Idaho is better than a 47th ranking and will continue to improve.
We have a good education system, we want to make it better every day, said McGrath.
In case you're wondering, neighboring states performed poorly too. Oregon was 43rd, Utah 42nd, and Montana 40th in this survey.