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Idaho Core Standards

Welcome to the Idaho Core
Standards
overview

Here you will find quick facts and information about the Idaho Core Standards

Overview

Background on the Idaho Core Standards

In Idaho, we face a challenge. While Idaho students perform well academically in grades K-12, too many students graduate from high school unprepared for the rigors of postsecondary education or the workforce. Other states face the same challenge.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Governor Otter decided to work together with other states to solve this problem. Through a voluntary, state-led effort, known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative, states took the lead to develop new academic standards in mathematics and English language arts that are higher, more in depth, and comparable with any other country in the world.

With these standards in place, Idaho students will now graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century. Whether your child chooses to go on to college, professional-technical school, the workforce or the military after high school, he or she will be prepared.

The standards that were developed:

  • Are aligned with college and workforce expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable, and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current Idaho state standards;
  • Were informed by standards in other top-performing countries; and
  • Are evidence-based.

After Idaho voluntarily chose to adopt these standards, they became known as Idaho's Core Standards.

Idaho Core Toolbox for Educators

Process

How it came to be.

Superintendent Luna meets with other state chiefs to discuss the possibility of developing common standards through a state-led effort.

State Chiefs and Governors meet in Chicago to formalize the process of developing common standards in mathematics and English language arts through a state-led process.

Interested states sign a Memorandum of Agreement to work together through a state-led process without the involvement of the federal government.

June 2

States publish the final standards, known as Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts.

June 7-17

The Idaho State Department of Education hosted regional public meetings in Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Sandpoint, Coeur d'Alene, Boise, Weiser and McCall to gather input from educators, parents and patrons.

Idaho teachers review the standards and provide a comprehensive gap analysis comparing Idaho's previous standards and the new standards.

The Idaho State Board of Education provides initial review of the standards at its meeting in Pocatello and then holds 21-day public comment period.

The Idaho State Department of Education hosted regional public meetings in Idaho Falls (Ammon), Pocatello, Twin Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, and Meridian to gather input from educators, parents and patrons.

The Idaho State Department of Education hosted regional public meetings in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls (Ammon), Pocatello, Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, and Meridian to gather input from educators, parents and patrons.

The Idaho State Board of Education adopts the standards at its meeting in Boise.

The House and Senate Education Committees of the Idaho Legislature vote to give final approval to adopt the standards as Idaho Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts.

What Has Changed?

The new Idaho Core Standards are higher and different than Idaho's previous standards. We recognize it will take time for students to master these new standards. Here is a look at how the standards are different in each subject are.

English Language Arts & Literacy:

1. Challenging students with different types of texts.

  • What this means: Students will read challenging texts in every class. They will continue to read classic literature, stories, and poems in English class, but they also will be challenged with studying and analyzing non-fiction texts in all subject areas as well.
  • The benefit: Students will be prepared to read, analyze and write about all types of texts at a higher level, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, when they graduate from high school.

2. Evidence from the text must be used in oral presentations or written papers.

  • What this means: In all classes, students will be required to dig into different types of texts -- hard copy books and digital resources, fiction or non-fiction – and then use evidence to back up written and oral presentations they make in class.
  • The benefit: Students will be better prepared to support their arguments and decisions with evidence, not just opinion.

3. Increased vocabulary across all grade levels.

  • What this means: There will be a larger focus on vocabulary in all subject areas and at all grade levels.
  • The benefit: In this digital age, students will continue to learn new vocabulary words as they progress through school and the correct context in which to use them.

Mathematics:

4. Students will work more deeply in fewer topics.

  • What this means: Teachers will cover fewer concepts in each grade level but go into more depth on each concept. This makes sure every student gains a full understanding before moving on to the next concept.
  • The benefit: Less is more. Students will gain a full and foundational understanding of mathematics at all grade levels.

5. Students will understand why the math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding.

  • What this means: Students will not just memorize formulas but will learn the foundations of mathematics.
  • The benefit: Students will learn critical foundational concepts and problem-solving skills in the early grades so they are prepared for higher levels of math, such as algebra, once they reach the middle grades.

6. Students will be asked to use math in real-world situations.

  • What this means: Students will not just memorize formulas or methods but will learn strategies for solving problems in real-world situations.
  • The benefit: Students will gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills while in school that they can apply in postsecondary education and the workforce.

Idaho's New Assessment

As Idaho transitions to new standards, the state also must develop a new assessment aligned with these higher standards. Idaho is phasing in a new test over three years. While the previous ISAT was a stagnant, multiple-choice-only test, the new Smarter Balanced Assessment will use different types of questions to measure a student's true ability in each subject area.

Administered online, the new assessment will adapt to each student's ability, providing parents and teachers with more accurate and meaningful information about what students are learning. To date, more than 100 Idaho teachers have been involved in developing the new Smarter Balanced Assessment for Idaho.

Frequently Asked Questions about the New Assessment:

How will Smarter Balanced be different?

The Smarter Balanced Assessment will be different from Idaho's previous ISAT in several ways:

  1. The questions will challenge students. Because this test is aligned to the new Idaho Core Standards, students now are learning at a higher level in mathematics and English language arts, such as critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Students will be measured against these higher expectations on the year-end test.
  2. The new test will have different types of questions. Instead of a multiple-choice-only test, students now will be asked to explain their answers, write essays, and more.
  3. The new test is more than a year-end test. The state also will provide assessment tools for Idaho's teachers to use in the classroom throughout the school year to monitor each student's progress and make sure every child is on track to reach academic goals.

What will happen to the current ISAT?

  • The Smarter Balanced Assessment will replace the ISAT in mathematics and English language arts. Idaho will still use the ISAT to measure students' performance in science.

What is the timeline for phasing in the new test?

  • Idaho is phasing in the new test over three years. In Spring 2013, 124 Idaho schools piloted the test. This year, all public schools will participate in the Field Test. Next year, the new Smarter Balanced Assessment will be fully implemented and scores will be given.

What is a Field Test?

  • A Field Test is a “dress rehearsal” of the test to make sure it is valid, reliable, and fair for all students and to give schools the opportunity to test their technology and logistics.

Why will students not receive test scores this year?

  • Because this is a Field Test, we are focusing on “testing the test.” We will not be scoring the test for any student. Therefore, there will not be reportable scores available to teachers, students, or parents. However, schools will gain other valuable feedback that they can use, such as how students experienced the new question types, and how their preparations worked in administering this new test. Students will also benefit from the Field Test because they will learn how to navigate the new test environment and how to use the testing tools that will be available to them next year.

Why field test in all Idaho schools?

  • The field test is essentially a “dress rehearsal,” or an opportunity for all Idaho schools to test the test. Any time the state transitions to a new assessment, our state conducts a Field Test in order to test the validity and reliability of the new test questions. We also test each school's technology and logistics to help schools reduce technical issues related to testing. Idaho chose to conduct a Field Test in all Idaho schools this year, rather than double-testing students on the new Smarter Balanced Assessment as well as the ISAT for several reasons:
    • It gives all students the opportunity to experience the new test and new types of test questions before next year when it becomes fully operational and scores are given.
    • It gives every school, school administrator, and teacher a year to test out their logistics, technology and scheduling before implementing the operational test in Spring 2015.
    • The state will gain better feedback by conducting the Field Test across the entire state, rather than in a selected sample.

How can I help my child prepare for this new assessment?

  • Visit www.smarterbalanced.org and take a practice test with your child.
  • Because the new standards emphasize critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, you should ask your child more open-ended or “why” questions. Encourage your child to think critically in everyday life. Let them know it is okay if they don't answer right away. Problem-solving takes time.
  • Encourage your child to take the Field Test seriously. While this is essentially a practice round, we want every child to try their best. Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast, gets a lot of rest and comes to school prepared and comfortable to take this test.

Additional Resources:

Myths & Facts

Here are common myths you will hear about the new Idaho Core Standards and the facts to dispel them.

Select the myth to see the fact.

Fact: Idaho voluntarily chose to adopt the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts as Idaho's new Core Standards in these two subject areas. The federal government has never reviewed a state's standards, and they have not reviewed these standards. These standards were the result of a state-led effort. Idaho signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with other states that clearly defines this as a state-led effort. Specifically, the MOA states, "The parties support a state-led effort and not a federal effort to develop a common core of state standards." The state-led effort also is evident in the fact that not every state has adopted these standards. Each state reviewed these standards and made its own decision.
Fact: No state is required to adopt the Common Core State Standards. Idaho chose to adopt these new standards because we know how critical it is to raise academic standards for all students. The U.S. Department of Education has tried to incentivize states to raise their academic standards in core subject areas through Race to the Top grants and the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind. To date, Idaho has not received any federal funding to implement these new standards. In addition, states like Virginia received a No Child Left Behind waiver even though they chose not to adopt the Common Core State Standards. No requirement exists. The adoption of standards remains a state-level decision.
Fact: These are academic standards in mathematics and English language arts. Idaho has not changed the academic standards in science, history, or social studies. Idaho has only added literacy standards in other subject areas so students will learn how to read, analyze, and write in any subject matter or career field they choose. The new standards are available online at http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/common/ for your review.
Fact: These standards are considerably higher than the previous standards Idaho had in place for mathematics and English language arts. To see evidence of the difference in standards, you can review the comprehensive gap analysis Idaho conducted to compare our previous standards to these new standards on our website at http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/common/. In addition, Idaho's colleges and universities have told us that students who graduate with mastery in these standards will be prepared for the rigors of postsecondary and the workforce. These standards were developed so they are comparable with any other state in the nation and with the standards of any other country in the world.
Fact: These are academic standards that set goals for what each student should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. When Idaho adopted the Common Core State Standards as Idaho Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts in 2011, the state only adopted these content standards. The state did not adopt any other policies to go along with these standards. These standards are in no way tied to the way data is collected at the state or local level. Idaho implemented a statewide longitudinal data system back in 2009 to streamline data collection processes at the state and local levels. That was two years before the state chose to adopt these new content standards. Idaho's statewide longitudinal data system is not tied to a national database in any way. Neither the state nor local school districts collect data on things like religious affiliation, nor do we have the technology to collect biometric data on students.
Fact: FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of students in the public education system. This law only contains policies to protect the privacy of students. It does not mandate the collection of any data. The only changes that have been made to the law in recent years reflect changes in technology and data collection to ensure the continued privacy of students. FERPA is available online at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf. On page 4, you will see that the law now lists an official definition of a "biometric record." The law only lists this definition in the event that a local school or district is collecting this type of data. In that case, as you can see on page 6, FERPA clearly defines a biometric record as "personally identifiable information" so that, as stated on pages 12-13, no personally identifiable information can be released without the consent of a parent or guardian. This only applies to local school districts or states that collect this type of data. It is a completely local and/or state decision on whether or not to collect this data. In Idaho, we do not collect biometric data on students.

These standards are not related to data collection in any way. If you have questions about data collection, please click here.
Fact: These standards are in line with the Idaho Math Initiative that the state implemented in 2008. Research has shown that teachers who have taken the Mathematical Thinking for Instruction course through the Idaho Math Initiative and applied these methods in their classrooms see better student achievement results in mathematics. A primary reason Idaho chose to adopt these new standards is because they aligned well with what we were already doing in our schools. Through these new standards, Idaho students will learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills that we believe are important now and in the future.
Fact: These standards actually emphasize reading and writing skills across all subject areas, not just in English language arts classrooms. Students will continue to read classic literature and other types of fiction in English class. In addition, the standards include literacy standards for history, science and other subject areas to make sure reading and writing are emphasized outside of English class as well. Local school districts still choose the texts that are taught in every classroom, not the state. In this way, the new standards ensure students in public high schools receive a well-rounded education in learning both literary texts as well as informational texts. The business community in Idaho and across the country has told us that students need to be prepared to read, write and analyze informational texts before they graduate from high school. We know this is a critical skill in the workforce and have to make sure Idaho students are prepared to meet it. Here are examples of some of the new standards Idaho has adopted:
  • Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics. (See page 36, Reading Standards for Literature, Grades 6-12)
  • By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. (See page 36, Reading Standards for Literature, Grades 6-12)
Fact: These are academic standards that set goals for what each student should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. These standards are in no way tied to school choice options. Every public school, including schools of choice, will teach these new standards beginning next school year. Choice within public education is in fact alive and thriving in Idaho. Four new public charter schools are scheduled to open next school year to bring the total number of public charter schools in Idaho to 46. Idaho currently has 23 magnet schools or programs operating in the state along with 10 focus schools or programs. Many districts also offer alternative schools or academies as another choice. These are just a few examples of school choice in public education in Idaho.
Fact: The new standards were developed by states. Critics point to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor's Association (NGA) as "private interest groups," but these groups are actually two state-led organizations that were asked by their members – state education chiefs and governors – to facilitate the state-led effort. The members of these organizations include Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.
Fact: These are Idaho Core Standards, and Idaho is ultimately in control of these standards. Idaho will review these standards every five years just as it reviews standards in other subject areas. Each state has the flexibility to add on to these standards if it sees fit. Idaho, for example, already has passed a resolution to consider adding cursive writing as a standard in the elementary grades. The Idaho State Board of Education will consider that this year. In addition, local school boards have the flexibility to add on to these standards at the local level as well.
Fact: Nothing in the Common Core State Standards discusses or requires curriculum. In Idaho, the state sets academic standards, or the goals for what each child should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. The curriculum is set at the local level by locally elected school boards. This process will remain in place under these new standards. Local school districts and public charter schools will determine the best curriculum to help the teachers in their schools teach these new academic standards. Local school districts have asked the state to provide examples of curricular materials that are aligned with the new academic standards, and the state plans to provide examples to meet district requests. However, it remains up to each local school district to select curriculum, not the state or federal government.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Idaho Core Standards.

Select the question to see the answer.

A: This fall, Idaho teachers will begin teaching new academic standards in mathematics and English language arts that are higher than Idaho's previous standards and comparable with any other country in the world.

These new Idaho Core Standards were adopted after a state-led effort referred to as the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Through this initiative, state governors and education chiefs came together to find a solution to a common problem they were all facing: while students were doing well in grades K-12, students were graduating from high school unprepared for the rigors of postsecondary education or the workforce. This challenge is all too real in Idaho, where just 47 percent of Idaho's high school graduates go on to postsecondary education and, of those, nearly half need remediation once they get there.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Governor Otter joined other states in working to develop more rigorous standards in mathematics and English language arts in 2009. This was a state-led effort. The U.S. Department of Education was not involved in any way. Idaho educators played a role in developing these standards. Once the standards were published in 2010, it was then up to each state to decide whether or not to adopt these standards. States took different paths to best meet the needs of their students. Virginia, for example, decided not to adopt the standards because it believed its standards were already rigorous enough. Other states chose to adopt just the math or just the English language arts standards.

The State of Idaho followed the same process it follows every five years to review academic standards in every subject area and decide whether or not to adopt new standards. The Idaho State Department of Education brought in Idaho teachers to review these new, more rigorous standards in mathematics and English language arts. A comprehensive gap analysis showed a strong correlation between Common Core State Standards and current Idaho state standards with a 70 percent match, but the Common Core State Standards were higher and deeper than previous standards.

Idaho's colleges and universities also weighed in, telling us that students will be ready for postsecondary education if they master these standards. We also asked the business community in Idaho to take a look at these standards during the review process. The Department held regional public meetings across the state to gather input from educators, parents and Idaho citizens. The Idaho State Board of Education held an open public comment period as well.

In 2010, based on all of this input and feedback, the State Board of Education chose to adopt these standards as Idaho's new content standards in mathematics and English language arts. The Idaho Legislature gave final approval to adopt these standards as our new state standards in 2011. They are now Idaho's Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts and part of Idaho's Content Standards for all subject areas.

These standards, just like standards in every other content area, are the goals the state sets for what every child should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. The state still only sets the standards. It remains up to each local school board to adopt curriculum, which is the textbook or other materials a teacher will use in the classroom to teach these standards.

Ultimately, the Idaho State Board of Education and Idaho Legislature have oversight of these standards. As with any standards, these standards can change in the future as the state reviews academic standards every five years.

Superintendent Luna told Idaho's legislators earlier this year, "Just like the standards we had in place before we adopted these, the federal government has never reviewed or approved state standards. And they have NOT reviewed or approved these. These are Idaho standards. If the federal government ever tries to approve or regulate these, no one will fight harder than we will."
A: In Idaho, we face a challenge in which our students do well academically in grades K-12 but far too many are graduating from high school unprepared for the rigors of college, professional-technical education, or the workforce. We are not alone. Many other states face the same challenge. Therefore, in 2009, Superintendent Luna worked with his fellow state superintendents to take a look at the academic standards in the core subject areas of mathematics and English language arts. Through this state-led, voluntary effort, Idaho worked with other states to develop higher, more rigorous standards in mathematics and English language arts that are comparable with any other country in the world. Our colleges and universities have told us that students who master these standards while in grades K-12 will graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education. That is the ultimate goal we are working to achieve—to ensure all students graduate from high school and succeed in the world that awaits them.
A: In Idaho, we followed the same process we follow every five years to review and adopt new standards. We brought in Idaho teachers to review the standards. Idaho's colleges and universities also weighed in, telling us these are college- and career-ready standards. The Idaho State Department of Education held regional public meetings in 2010 to gather feedback on the standards. The State Board of Education reviewed the standards in 2010 and held a public comment period. The State Board chose to adopt these standards in 2010. The Idaho Legislature gave final approval for the adoption of these standards as our new state for mathematics and English language arts in 2011. That is when they became the Idaho Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts. It is still up to each local school district to adopt curriculum to meet these standards.
A: No. Idaho voluntarily chose to adopt these standards in 2011. These standards were developed through a state-led effort. The federal government has not been involved in the process of developing or implementing these standards. Idaho signed a Memorandum of Agreement with other states to work together to develop these standards. That document clearly states this is a state-led effort and that the federal government is not involved. Idaho has not received any federal funding that requires the adoption of these new standards.
A: Here is a timeline that shows the development and implementation of these new academic standards.
  • 2009-10 school year: Idaho worked with other states to create these new standards.
  • 2010-11 school year: Idaho conducted public outreach about the new standards and analyzed how the standards aligned with Idaho's pervious standards.
  • 2011-12 school year: The state has offered professional development for district leadership teams and master teachers.
  • 2012-13 school year: The state has offered professional development for teachers and school administrators statewide.
  • 2013-14 school year: The Idaho Core State Standards will first be taught in all Idaho public schools. (Some Idaho schools have already begun to implement the new standards.)
  • 2014-15 school year: The new assessment aligned to the Idaho Core Standards will be delivered to Idaho students in Spring 2015.
A: Idaho teachers and principals are excited about these new standards and how they will help improve student learning in the future. Some schools have even decided to implement these standards early and began teaching to the new standards this school year.

We talked with a few Idaho teachers and principals about the new standards, and here is what they shared with us:

  • Andy Grover, Superintendent in the Melba School District, said adopting these new standards "is probably the greatest thing that has happened in a long time in education."
  • Cindy Johnstone, Director of Curriculum and Assessment in the Vallivue School District, called the new standards the "right direction" for Idaho. "It's difficult when states have to develop that all on their own, but for this state-led effort to come together and do that for us, I think is just an amazing thing," she said. "I think they are better than what we have. It's higher quality. It gets at more authentic learning for students so that they are better prepared as problem solvers, as critical thinkers for what lies ahead of them in their life."
  • Giselle Isbell teaches elementary math at Anser Charter School in Boise. She is excited about the new mathematics standards. "I think they really focus on building the structure of mathematics for students, which allows students to have a better and deeper understanding of math as they look at patterns or relationships of our number system. I think the standards allow time for students to explore multiple strategies and models and that is really important. It allows for lots of children to access math where they are, and I think it makes math more meaningful and engaging for the children."
  • Bill Brulotte, the Principal at I.B. Perrine Elementary School in Twin Falls, has been working with his staff to implement these new standards early over the past year. "After looking at the Common Core, it had a higher level of knowledge base and inquiry learning for kids instead of just rote memorization and regurgitating facts. That really impressed me that somebody was saying, ‘No, we want kids to think outside the box, we want them to work at a higher level of knowledge base,'" he said. "I want to take my staff to that higher level, and I want to do it for the benefit of the kids because I think kids can learn so much more than what we give them credit for."
  • Cathy Adams, a 20-year veteran in the classroom and currently a second grade teacher at I.B. Perrine Elementary, has been teaching the new standards for a year now. She said these new standards allow her to spend more time teaching critical, higher-level thinking skills. "I think that's the key is the higher level thinking skills. That's what they need in the real world, in a competitive world."
A: Idaho is currently working to develop the next generation of assessments that will measure these higher academic standards, beginning in Spring 2015. Even with the best professional development the state can provide and the most highly effective teacher in the classroom, we must recognize these standards are higher. It will take a few years for Idaho students to master them. States that have already implemented higher standards similar to these and measured their students for the first time saw a significant drop in the number of students performing at grade level. Kentucky, for example, saw the number of students scoring proficient drop by one-third. We can expect similar results here in Idaho. It is not because our kids woke up one day and weren't as smart as they were the day before. It's because we are holding them to a higher standard, and that is a good thing for them and their future.

Letters of Support

Letters of Support for the Idaho Core Standards below.

Letter One

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

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Letter Two

Business Roundtable

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Letter Three

Presidents of Higher Edu.

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More Information

For more information on the Idaho Core Standards, please visit the links below.

The Mathematics
Standards

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The English Language Arts/Literacy Standards

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For
Educators

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What Idaho Teachers
Are Saying?

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Conservatives for Higher Standards

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Idaho Core for Idaho Kids

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