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Idaho Policy Institute Awarded Contract to Evaluate Public Charter Schools

Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute (IPI), housed within the School of Public Service, was awarded $212,229 to serve as an independent, third-party evaluator for the Idaho Communities of Excellence program, a charter school education organization funded by a federal charter schools program grant. The five-year grant was awarded by Bluum, a non-profit organization committed to expanding high-performing schools in Idaho.

“We are delighted to work with Boise State University and look forward to learning together what does and doesn’t work when it comes to opening and growing public charter schools,” said Terry Ryan, project director and CEO of Bluum.

Public charter schools have increased their role in Idaho’s educational landscape over the last 20 years. Charter schools now educate more than seven percent of the state’s public school students, while roughly 11,000 students currently are on waiting lists. As such, a consortium of leaders in education – including Bluum, Idaho Public Charter School Commission, Idaho State Board of Education, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and Building Hope – have come together in an effort to launch, replicate and expand high-quality charter schools across the state. In 2018, the consortium received $17.1 million in funding for the Idaho Communities of Excellence program through a five-year federal charter schools program grant.

Idaho’s Communities of Excellence program will provide sub-grants to qualified charter school developers to provide financial support for the initial implementation of expanding, replicating and opening a public charter school.

Communities of Excellence is committed to: 1) increasing the number of quality public charter school seats by 8,200 students, especially for our most educationally disadvantaged and rural students; 2) supporting the Idaho Public Charter School Commission in expanding its quality authorizing efforts while disseminating and supporting best practices for other authorizers statewide; and 3) evaluating and disseminating the successes and lessons of high-quality charter schools to impact the broader education system.

IPI will serve as an evaluator to support the program’s third objective. In its role as evaluator, the institute will analyze program design and effectiveness, use of funds and stakeholder perception for each of the 19 charter school sub-grantees. IPI’s final report in 2024 will provide an overall evaluation of Idaho’s Communities of Excellence program and help create an evidence base of practices and innovations in Idaho’s charter school sector.

“IPI is honored and excited to be working with Bluum and the Communities of Excellence program as evaluators. Having such a robust program evaluated by an independent, external evaluator provides the type of accountability and oversight that makes grant funded programs so valuable when providing vital public services. We are honored to be that evaluator,” said Greg Hill, director of the Idaho Policy Institute.