Posts Tagged ‘Idaho Core Standards’


In an op-ed with the CDA Press last year, I was asked to outline the Idaho Core Standards and address why it is so important for Idahoans to embrace the Common Core. In this article, I stated:

“Idaho Core Standards is our state’s version of Common Core. Idaho Core Standards raises the bar for students to perform better in math and reading, and also provides tools for all those higher expectations to be met. The standards are higher and so is accountability.” – Source

Since its inception, the Common Core and Idaho Core Standards have become targets due to a number of different factors. Misinformation has caused many of the objections, and continues to be a major factor in the opposition of the Common Core. Without proper understanding of the Idaho Core Standards, it is impossible to see the greater vision and what the state hopes to accomplish through the initiative. Our goal is simple: we want nothing more than to give the Idaho Core Standards a chance to improve the performance of Idaho students.

While support for the Common Core has been strong, inevitably there will be opposition. Those who don’t understand the goals of the Common Core program or are opposed to one facet of the curriculum are raising the flag against the Common Core. In a recent op-ed, Melanie Vander Feer shared her thoughts in a piece titled, “Resolution Against Common Core.” In her article, Vander Feer shares:

“Just a few months ago I knew very little about common core. After learning what it was all about, I have vowed to do everything I can to stop it in Idaho. […] What exactly is Common Core? Due to the fact that it is unlawful to have a federal curriculum, President Obama’s administration broke three federal laws when implementing Common Core. The government’s goal is to monopolize control of the children in order to train them to be good little global citizens. There will be a lack of control by local districts and parents. No one will be exempt: home school, private or charter schools. It will teach them what to think, not how to think.”

This is not what the Core Standards are attempting to accomplish. In fact, the Idaho Core Standards will help enhance the education of our students by raising academic standards across the state. In addition to raising the bar for traditional academia, the Standards also aim to help students improve a variety of soft skills, which employers around the country are looking for. From understanding how to work as a team to improving communication skills, the Idaho Core Standards will help better prepare students for life after school.

Near the end of last month, Michael J. Petrilli shared nine questions for those who oppose the Common Core. The article does a great job of highlighting the correct questions to ask when attempting to identify which areas of the Common Core someone opposes, as oftentimes the opposition is based around one facet and not the Standards as a whole.

While most other states are championing forward the cause of the Common Core, there are some states that have preemptively changed course before seeing how the changes can positively affect statewide education. States that are further along in the process, such as Kentucky, are already seeing rapid growth in education standards and the percentage of students that are accepted into post-high school education.

Let’s give the Idaho Core Standards an opportunity to prove their worth. We will never be able to collectively raise academic standards within the state if we don’t give programs like the Idaho Core Standards a chance to succeed.


University-of-Idaho-September-2010-Davies-Moore-Kort-Duce-065Last week, more than 200 college and university leaders from 33 states — including nearly two dozen postsecondary systems with a combined enrollment of more than three million students — announced the launch of a new coalition that will serve as a vehicle for mobilizing higher education leaders supporting the Common Core State Standards.

Support included the presidents of Boise State University, Idaho State University and the University of Idaho. This effort was in response to the critical need for students to be better prepared to meet the demands of higher education and the workplace.

Right now, an unacceptable number of students must take remedial classes when they get to college – 24% of those attending Idaho 4-year institutions and 59% of those attending Idaho community colleges. This greatly reduces the likelihood that students will complete college or be prepared for the workforce. It also increases the costs for those students who do get their degree or certificate.

Looking ahead, Higher Ed for Higher Standards members across the states have committed to helping raise public awareness about the importance of the standards and making their voices heard with state policymakers, urging them to stay the course on career- and college-ready expectations. “This is a lesson Amanda Ripley, author of the Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, sees throughout her tour of “the smart-kid countries”.

Children succeed in classrooms where they are expected to succeed. Schools work best when they operate with a clarity of mission: as places to help students master complex academic material.” (The Economist, August 17, 2013) Idaho is striving to be one of those places – not just for kids in wealthy, urban districts, but in every community in the state. Higher standards are something we owe every one of Idaho’s students.


The Idaho Core Standards are goals set at the state level for what a child should know and be able to do at each grade level. Curriculum are the materials chosen by local school districts to achieve those standards. Take a look at this simple infographic which explains standards versus curriculum in more detail.






















































































For more parent or grade-specific resources, Click Here.

Children Learning the Idaho Core Standards
Keep other countries from eating our jobs and our children’s future

Thomas Friedman, the best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times, recently recalled the advice his parents gave him around the dinner table. “Eat your vegetables,” they told him, “because there are starving kids in India and China.”

Friedman says he has a new take on that advice for his own daughters: “Finish your homework because there are people in India and China starving to steal your jobs.”

That sums up pretty well why we need the Idaho Core Standards. They are essential if we are to keep other countries from eating our jobs and our children’s future.

The Core Standards will help students compete academically and later on when they join the workforce. That alone should be reason enough for all Idahoans to support the successful implementation of the Standards.

But there is another over-arching reason: The Standards will help Idaho’s economy compete and thrive in the 21st Century.  And that will improve the quality of life for all Idahoans, especially our children and grandchildren whose future depends on a good education and healthy economy.

Studies show that more than 60 percent of the jobs in Idaho will require workers to hold some kind of post-secondary credential by the year 2018. That credential can be a workforce-ready certificate, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Yet right now only 39 percent of Idaho’s 25-34 year olds hold a post-secondary credential. That creates a 21 percent gap between the number of educated workers we will need in five years and the current education level in the workforce.

Without having a highly educated and skilled workforce Idaho won’t be able to attract new companies that can pay livable wages and we will likely lose many of our existing companies to other states.

That has already happened. A few years ago Boise businessman Bob Lokken sold his company, Proclarity, to Microsoft with the understanding it would keep the jobs in Idaho. Microsoft tried to keep the agreement. But when it could not find the educated workers it needed, it was forced to move the company to Seattle.

We cannot afford to lose such high-paying and forward-leaning jobs. That’s why achieving our 60 percent goal is so essential.

But hitting the goal won’t be easy and it will be nearly impossible without the Idaho Core Standards.

That’s because Idaho currently has one of the worse “go-on” rates in the country. Only four out of 10 high school graduates go on to college. And most of those drop out before obtaining a post-secondary credential.

There are many complicated reasons our go-on rate is so low and why so few students drop out without receiving a degree. But one of the main reasons is our students are not prepared for the rigors of a post-secondary education.

A large percentage of students who go on – 25 percent who attend a four-year college and 75 percent who attend a two-year college – must receive remedial math and English. Many students who require mediation end up dropping out because they can’t keep up with their studies or they get frustrated.

The Idaho Core Standards will help reverse this troubling trend and better prepare students for post-secondary course work. They can also reduce the need for remediation, thus saving students a lot of frustration and taxpayers a lot of money.

The Standards can also give parents the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children are being measured by the same standards as students in other states. They can have confidence in assessment tests that show whether their children are meeting the Standards or need more work in a particular subject.

The Standards not only help the students, parents and businesses. They can also enrich the professional experience for teachers and school administrators.

Teachers no longer have to focus on rote memorization or bombarding students with facts so they do well on bubble tests. They can focus on giving students the skills they need to be successful in school, work and life. Skills like critical thinking, the ability to absorb and analyze content and communicate orally and in writing.

Administrators will find greater satisfaction seeing their students flourish academically and going on to be successful in post-secondary education and the workforce. There is also a benefit to administrators by having teachers who are happier and more engaged.

Idahoans for Excellence in Education – a coalition of 30 Idaho-based organizations – formed last July to help parents, students, educators and the general public navigate these changes and see that the Standards are successfully implemented.

I’m proud to say that every major education group has joined our coalition. So have influential business groups like Idaho Business for Education, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry and the Boise and Meridian Chambers of Commerce. So have nearly every child advocacy group in the state. The State Board of Education and all the Presidents of Idaho’s public universities and colleges are also members.

We are all committed to the Idaho Core Standards because they will build a solid foundation under our students. They will help them succeed academically, professionally and in life. And, most importantly, they will help Idaho and the United States compete so countries like India and China don’t eat our jobs and our children’s future.

Rod Gramer is President and CEO of Idaho Business for Education, a non-profit group of 70 Idaho businesses dedicated to improving education in our state. IBE is one of the original members of Idahoans for Excellence in Education coalition. 

Make sure the house has a firm foundation.

Make sure the house has a firm foundation.

Rod Gramer, President of Idaho Business for Education, told the Idaho Falls City Club last Friday that the Idaho Core Standards are the foundation of improving the Idaho education system.

You don’t build a house by putting up the roof and the walls first. You make sure that the house has a good foundation. Higher standards will create a strong foundation for Idaho’s education system and help improve our students’ academic success,” Gramer told the City Club.
Gramer said he is confident that our students will respond well to these new standards for math and English.
He noted that since the core standards were launched in Kentucky more students in that state are prepared for college course work. He said the same progress will be made in Idaho once the Idaho Core Standards are fully implemented.
He said that’s why every education and business group in Idaho supports the Idaho Core Standards.

Imagine for a moment today is January 1, 2019, and your business is thriving.  So much so, you need to fill 60 key positions in coming year – all of which require technical skills and/or education beyond high school.  What happens to your business when you are unable to hire 50% of those key people?

Now imagine that businesses across the entire state of Idaho are facing the same problem.  Imagine that shortage goes on for years. How would that impact the state?  What would the business environment look like?

This grim reality, and our current trajectory, is one that we hope to avoid by adopting the Idaho Core Standards for our schools.  We need to aggressively implement the Idaho Core Standards, or face an economic death spiral.

Let me explain my logic.

Today’s high school freshmen will be entering the workforce in about a decade.  So today’s schools must be aware of the needs of this future workforce.  Fortunately, significant research has been done to help us foresee these needs in Idaho.  The surveys vary slightly, but all share the same conclusion:  between 60% and 67% of the future jobs created in Idaho will require some form of post-secondary education – one, two, four or more years of education beyond high school.  That explains why nearly every statewide organization involved in renewing our public education system has adopted or strongly supports the goal of greater than 60% post-secondary completion.

Idaho Common Core

Far too few Idaho students go on from high school to post-secondary education – we are in the bottom five states in the country on that metric

So if the goal is greater than 60%, where are we today?  Today, it is estimated only 34% of Idahoans ages 25-34 have that level of education.  In round numbers, we have only slightly more than half the number needed of young adults completing some form of post-secondary education.

The reasons for this gap are complex.  They are grounded in cultural, motivational, financial, and preparedness issues.  Today I will focus on preparedness as there is ample evidence that this is something over which we have direct control, and when addressed, will help mitigate other issues, such as motivation.

Today, far too few Idaho students go on from high school to post-secondary education – we are in the bottom five states in the country on that metric.  For those students who do go on, we have very high remediation rates.  And, as you might expect would follow, we have one of the highest college dropout rates in the country.  Clearly we have a serious problem with preparing our students for success at the post-secondary level; and hence, we are not preparing them for success in the workforce.

The Idaho Core Standards were specifically designed to align our K-12 education system to the demands and requirements of post-secondary education.  These standards address two core subjects – math and English.  If you doubt that these standards are a good idea, then I encourage you to visit the web site, where you will see that every public university president in the state of Idaho, and nearly every statewide business/education organization have endorsed these standards.

The Idaho Core Standards are only standards, meaning they define what students should know.  They are not curriculum, which is the specific course material used in our schools.  Curriculum is developed locally by each school district.  The move to the Idaho Core Standards gives us the best of both worlds – standards in the core subjects of math and English critical to our students’ success in post-secondary education and in the workforce; while maintaining local school and community control over the curriculum taught in the schools.  Adopting the Idaho Core Standards does not mean giving up control of our schools.

We are rapidly approaching a 50% shortage of educated workers for the very jobs that are mission critical to the future growth and survival of our businesses, and to the health of our state’s economy.  Closing that gap starts now with adopting the Idaho Core Standards.

Written by Bob Lokken, CEO of WhiteCloud Analytics.


Meridian Chamber of Commerce Logo

I had the opportunity to speak to the Meridian Chamber of Commerce last week about the importance of the Idaho Core Standards in helping prepare our young people for school, work and life. It was a large crowd and the business leaders were very interested in what the core standards are and how they can help improve our schools.

I noted that research shows that about 67 percent of the jobs in Idaho over the next five to 10 years will require a post-secondary credential. Yet right now less than 40 percent of our workforce holds such a credential.

We must have more students go on to post-secondary education and receive a credential if we are to have the highly educated and skilled workforce we need. Part of the problem is our current academic standards are not rigorous enough to successfully prepare our young people for post-secondary education. Too many of them need remediation in Math and English and drop out of school. We need higher standards so more can obtain the credential or degree necessary to fill the jobs of the future.

The Meridian area business leaders seemed very supportive of this message.