Both Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School received the maximum five stars in new Idaho State Department of Education school performance ratings released last week.
Silver Creek also received five stars last year, the first year the new rating system was used. Wood River High School raised its score two stars this year, having last year been awarded only three stars.
Four stars, the same as last year, were awarded to Carey School and Wood River Middle School.
However, all four of the district’s elementary schools received different ratings this year compared to last year. One went up a star while the other three went down a star.
Bellevue Elementary, the lowest-scoring school in the district last year, raised its star rating from 2 to 3. Both Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum and Hailey Elementary School dropped a star, going from 4 to 3. Woodside Elementary School in south Hailey dropped from three stars to two stars.
Idaho’s Five-Star Rating System replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress system, typically referred to as AYP, as a way of measuring school performance as required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The five-star system was first used last year, even though it was not officially approved as a replacement for AYP until October by the U.S. Department of Education.
In a statement regarding the five-star system, the Idaho State Department of Education reports that the new system more accurately measures and recognizes academic performance in the state’s schools.
The AYP system used only data from student achievement tests to evaluate school performance, while the new five-star system takes other data in consideration.
Under the five-star system, grades K-8 are measured on individual academic growth from one year to the next, academic proficiency as measured in achievement tests and participation in testing. Schools must demonstrate that at least 95 percent of the students in a school were tested.
For grades 9-12, the five-star system measures individual academic growth from one year to the next, academic proficiency as measured by achievement tests, graduation rates, the number of students enrolled in advanced placement courses for college credits, student success in advanced placement courses, and scores on college entrance exams. Schools must also demonstrate that at least 95 percent of the students were tested.
Not testing enough students can lead to a school losing two whole stars, such as happened last year to Wood River High School.
According to the rating system, schools that receive four or five stars should be “publicly recognized and celebrated for their excellent performance as top performing schools across Idaho.”
The rating system states that three-star schools “are recognized as doing a good job for students” but are also required to develop improvement plans in areas where the school did not improve in academic achievement.
Schools receiving one or two stars are required to develop extensive plans for improvement.
Statewide, 91 schools received five stars, 294 schools received four stars, 175 schools received three stars, 66 schools received two stars and 22 schools received one star.
Blaine County School District Superintendent Lonnie Barber stated in a news release that “the district is proud of the hard work and continuous improvement at both Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School that resulted in the highest possible rating of five stars.”
“We are very proud of the accomplishments of our four and five star schools,” Barber stated. “Now that Idaho fully understands the new criteria for the five-star rating system, we feel confident that all of our schools will be on a sustainable path of continuous improvement.”
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna stated in a news release: “I am proud to see Idaho schools continue to make academic progress every year.
“These most recent results not only show that a majority of Idaho schools are high performing but also that a vast majority of Idaho student are performing at or above grade level in reading and mathematics.”