Idaho's Five-Star Rating System

This school year, Idaho is transitioning to a new statewide accountability system for all public schools.

This new system—known as Idaho's Five-Star Rating System—increases accountability and is designed to be more transparent and easily understood by parents and patrons. Idaho's Five-Star Rating System will more accurately measure and recognize the academic performance of Idaho's schools. Under the old accountability system, which was mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the state was only able to use one metric—proficiency (or how many students can pass a test)—to determine the academic quality of a school. Each year, the students in each Idaho school took the ISAT, and based solely on how many students reached proficiency on that test, the state reported whether or not each school made "Adequate Yearly Progress," or AYP.

Proficiency was a useful metric, and it still is. But judging schools based on proficiency alone fails to give an accurate picture of a school's performance. Now, the state is moving away from the restrictions of the federal No Child Left Behind law and implementing a new accountability system that more accurately measures the academic quality of each school in Idaho and better communicates the results with parents and families.

Rather than only evaluating schools on a single measure, Idaho's new accountability system provides a spectrum that more accurately describes a school's academic performance using multiple measures. The Five-Star Rating System accounts for proficiency, but it also takes into account academic growth, graduation rates, and indicators of success in postsecondary education and the workforce.

To move to this new system, the state must receive a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education exempting it from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Idaho submitted its waiver application in February and is working to finalize negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education to transition to this new system. The transition will begin this year, and because this is a transition year, the state is announcing AYP results as well as Five-Star Rating results. Next year, and every year going forward, the state will announce only the Five-Star Rating System results. Idaho will no longer calculate or report AYP.

Here is a summary of the new rating system, in case you are not familiar with it, and what these results mean for your school.

After this first transitional year, your school will no longer be rated on whether or not it meets AYP, which only measures how many students score on grade-level on the ISAT. Instead, each school will be rated as a One-Star, Two-Star, Three-Star, Four-Star, or Five-Star School based on multiple measures of academic performance, including academic growth.

Under the Five-Star System, schools with grades K-8 will be measured based on the following factors:

  • Academic growth – How much progress students made over the past school year.
  • Academic proficiency – How many students reached grade-level or higher in each subject area on the ISAT.
  • Participation – Schools must demonstrate that at least 95 percent of students in the school were tested.

Under the Five-Star System, schools with a grade 12 will be measured based on the following factors:

  • Academic Growth – The state will measure how much progress students made over the past school year.
  • Academic Proficiency – The state will measure how many students have reached grade-level or higher in each subject area on the ISAT.
  • Postsecondary and Career Readiness Metrics – The state will measure a school's graduation rate, the number of students enrolled in and successfully completing advanced courses, and student scores on college entrance exams, such as the SAT, ACT, ACCUPLACER or COMPASS. The state currently pays for all students to take the SAT or ACCUPLACER.
  • Participation – Schools must demonstrate that at least 95 percent of students in the schools were tested.

After calculating these measures, each school will receive a Star Rating.

  • Four-Star and Five-Star Schools will be publicly recognized and celebrated for their excellent performance as top-performing schools across Idaho. These schools will serve as an example to other schools.
  • Three-Star Schools will be recognized as doing a good job for students but will also be required to develop an improvement plan for certain areas in which the school could improve academic achievement.
  • One-Star and Two-Star Schools are schools in which the state has identified areas of improvement. These schools will develop school improvement plans tied to research-based best practices, and the State Department of Education will focus intense time and resources to provide the support necessary to raise academic achievement and close achievement gaps in these schools.

Through the new Five-Star Rating System, Idaho will have a consistent, uniform system of accountability for all schools. This new system will not only bring higher levels of accountability to public education but will also more accurately measure academic performance in schools and give Idaho parents and patrons clearer, easy-to-understand information on how schools are performing academically each year.

If you have any questions about the Five-Star Rating System, please visit http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/esea/ to learn more or contact the staff at the State Department of Education.