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Reading scores are improving, approaching pre-pandemic levels


Reading scores in Idaho are up from last year, with many nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

Scores rose across all areas of the Idaho Spring Reading Index, a test for students in kindergarten through third grade.

And those improvements come as the state invests more taxpayer money in early literacy, one of Gov. Brad Little’s education priorities.

More than 68% of K-3 students tested at grade level on the spring IRI — by 17 percentage points more than last fallwhen 51% of students entered the school year with grade-level reading skills.

The spring 2022 assessments also show overall achievement from spring 2021the first year after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a breakdown of the 2019, 2021, and 2022 IRI spring results. (IRI was suspended in the spring of 2020 when schools went online during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The figures below show the percentage of students scoring at grade level before and after the pandemic:

Variety 2019 year 2021 year 2022 year
Kindergarten 63.1 61.3 64.8
The first variety 66.7 59.5 63.8
The second variety 75.3 69.2 72.4
Third class 73.2 70.1 71.7
All grades 69.7 65.1 68.2

State Superintendent Sherry Ibarra welcomed the spring scores and predicted continued growth.

“We expect continued improvement in the coming years as we move closer to our goal of making sure all Idaho students learn to read by third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives,” Ybarra said in a news release Wednesday. .

In March, just weeks before 90,682 K-3 students took the spring IRI, lawmakers put $72 million into a literacy program — a one-year increase of $46 million, as proposed by Little. Schools can put up this extra money in kindergarten programs throughout the day, but they don’t have to. Instead, schools can use the money to hire reading coaches, offer summer programs, or take other steps to help struggling readers.

At-risk student groups continued to lag behind their peers.

Only 39% of English language learners read on grade level, down from 45% in spring 2019.

Only 34% of students with disabilities scored at grade level, compared to 32% in 2019.

Best achievements

Here are the top 10 districts and charters for spring 2022, based on percentage of K-3 students at grade level:

  • Gemstone Preparation Online Meridian: 91.2%
  • North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, Rathdrum: 89.5%
  • Cambridge School District: 89.4%
  • Compass Public Charter School, Meridian: 88.8%
  • North Star Charter School, Eagle: 87.7%
  • Cottonwood School District: 87.3%
  • Council School District: 85.2%
  • Troy School District: 85.1%
  • Gemstone Preparation, Meridian: 85.0%
  • Rockland School District: 84.4%

Find out how your school is doing

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education policy and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television; and “Idaho Matters” on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. It can be reached at the address [email protected]

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