Matthew May, PhD, Senior Research Associate
Mcallister Hall, Research Associate
This report was prepared by Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and commissioned by the Idaho State Board of Education.
This evaluation, of the Idaho Literacy Intervention Program (Program) annually mandated by the Idaho Legislature, considers (a) program design, (b) use of funds, including the funding amounts, (c) local education agencies (LEAs) that have utilized all-day kindergarten (all-day K), (d) program effectiveness, and (e) any other relevant matters. For the fourth year, Idaho Policy Institute (IPI) conducted the evaluation.
To complete this report, IPI received relevant financial, performance, and enrollment data from Idaho’s Office of the State Board of Education and Idaho State Department of Education. This includes student-level Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) scores, demographic data, all-day K enrollment data, and LEA literacy intervention expenditures.
The Program is designed to help students who need support as identified by the fall administration of the IRI test. Teachers agree the IRI test accurately identifies students who need support in achieving literacy proficiency. Spending in approved funding categories directly impacts students.
Use of Funds
LEAs continue to use a majority of funds each year to hire more personnel or increase pay of current personnel. Most administrators indicate if their LEA received more literacy funds, they would increase personnel spending. Current reporting standards do not require schools to report how much is spent on all-day K. Program spending toward all-day K is likely reflected in the personnel category.
About 58% of schools offer some form of all-day K. In a 2020 IPI survey of school administrators, 37% of LEAs indicated using at least some of their state literacy funds toward a version of a free all-day K program. Some schools funding all-day K programs may not be able to serve all kindergarten students with a full day of instruction.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is seen in spring 2021 IRI scores. All grades and demographic subgroups saw a decrease in proficiency from spring 2019 scores. Grade 1 students saw the biggest drop, likely due to learning loss during the final months of their kindergarten school year. Students who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and students learning English continue to perform lower than their counterparts. There is an opportunity to increase student proficiency by ensuring that schools with higher percentages of these groups have adequate resources to meet the needs of these students. Students in city schools and students with disabilities saw the smallest gap between 2019 and 2021 proficiency rates. Further study is needed to understand any strategies used to mitigate this gap.