Idaho Middle Level Education - Student Accountability

The Middle Level Task Force was created in May 2007 to examine middle school issues as recommended by the High School Redesign efforts. Two goals of the task force were to ensure all students are prepared to be successful in high school and to increase academic engagement and student accountability for middle school students through a relevant and rigorous curriculum. Desired outcomes included ensuring all students are prepared to be successful in high school and beyond and to improve student preparation for high school and post-secondary education. To achieve these goals and work toward the desired outcomes, the Middle Level Task Force determined that students need to be introduced to the language and concept of a credit system before entering high school. The task force recognizes the need for flexibility for individual districts and schools to have credit requirements that can be fitted to their unique needs and structures and has kept this need at the forefront of their considerations.

This rule change would require each LEA (local education agency) or district to design and implement a credit system starting no later than the seventh grade. The effective date is July 1, 2010 (for the 2010-2011 school year). Students entering the 7th grade at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year would have to meet credit requirements or complete an alternate mechanism to be promoted to the 8th grade.

Each LEA's middle level credit system must include the following minimum requirements:

  1. Students shall be required to attain a minimum of 80% of their credits in order to be promoted to the next grade level.
  2. Students will not be allowed to lose a full year of credit in one area (i.e. a student would not be able to fail a full year of math) and automatically move on to the next grade level.
  3. Students not meeting (or in jeopardy of not meeting) credit requirements will be given an opportunity to recover credits or complete an alternate mechanism in order to be eligible for promotion to the next grade level.
  4. Attendance is a factor either in the credit system or the alternate mechanism or both.

The effective date of the middle level credit system rule is July 1, 2010.

Middle Level Credit System FAQ's

When will the requirements for the credit system take effect?

Districts will be required to implement the credit system in the fall of 2010 for the 2010-11 school year. Starting no later than the seventh grade, students must be required to earn at least 80% of their total credits for the school year in order to be promoted to the next grade level. A student will not be allowed to lose a full year of credit in one subject area (i.e. a student would not meet the requirements if they attained at least 80% of the total credits taken, but did not earn any of the credits they took in math). The subject area requirement does not apply to course often referred to as "exploratory courses" that are taken only for a single quarter, trimester or semester. The additional complexities and challenges in attempting to address credit recovery in courses taken for such a short amount of time were recognized in exempting these courses from the subject area requirement. Nothing prevents a district from requiring a student to earn credit in these classes as well; the state only sets the minimum requirements. The task force did not want to limit this provision to apply only to the "core" courses because classes such as physical education (PE) that may be taken for a full year are not less important, and a student should be equally accountable for their performance and dedication to these classes as well.


Our district already requires students to earn more than 80% of their credits, do we have to change it to 80%?

No. A district or LEA may establish credit requirements beyond the state minimum.


How do the 80% requirement and not losing credit in a single subject work together?

It could be possible that a student attains 85% of their total credits, but would not be eligible for grade level promotion because the student didn't earn any credits in math. This student would need to complete a form of credit recovery (or an alternate mechanism) in math in order to attain some credits in math and become eligible for promotion.


What happens if a student doesn't meet the credit requirements?

A district or LEA must allow a student an opportunity to recover credits or complete an alternate mechanism to become eligible for promotion to the next grade level. There is no prescribed form for credit recovery and a district may utilize multiple methods and strategies. Credit recovery does not have to be uniform for all students and can be customized to fit an individual student's learning style and environment. Resources and ideas for credit recovery are available on the State Department of Education's website.


What is an alternate mechanism? How is it different than credit recovery?

A district may implement an alternate mechanism for grade level promotion for a student who may not meet the requirements of the credit system. The alternate mechanism allows a student to demonstrate proficiency in the appropriate content standards. This can apply to all courses of study or to specific subject areas in which a student may not be earning credits. Credit recovery is a narrower focus on a particular course or actions that caused or is leading to credit loss. An alternate mechanism or credit recovery does not have to wait to be implemented until credit loss has already occurred. Schools are encouraged to intervene early and often when it starts to emerge that a student may not meet their credit requirements.


What equals a credit?

The formula for credits is determined at the local level. The requirements for the credit system are meant to maximize the local control and flexibility to make a credit system the most effective for each community. Some examples of credit systems that are currently in use in Idaho and meet the new requirements for middle level accountability are available at the SDE's website.


What is the minimum attendance requirement?

The requirement is that the LEA or charter school includes attendance as a factor in the credit system or in the mechanism for credit recovery or in both if the district chooses. Attendance in the middle grades is essential as it often affects students' performance in class, their ability to access and engage with a relevant and rigorous curriculum, and their preparation to be successful in meeting the requirements of high school and beyond.


What about funding for credit recovery and possible retention?

No specific funding is being requested to assist with credit recovery or retention, however the requirements have been designed to allow flexibility so that districts can use opportunities and resources already available to them to help address these needs such as remediation dollars and opportunities and the Idaho Math Initiative. Examples and ideas are available on the SDE website.

The following is the language for the rule governing the Middle Level Credit System. It became final after approval by the State Board of Education and the Legislature (2010 Regular Session).


08.02.03 Rules Governing Thoroughness

107. Middle Level Credit System
A school district or LEA must implement a credit system no later than grade seven that includes components that address the credit requirements, credit recovery, alternate mechanisms and attendance. The local school district or LEA may establish credit requirements beyond the state minimum. (7-01-10)

01. Credit Requirements. Each district or LEA credit system shall require students to attain a minimum of eighty percent (80%) of the total credits attempted before the student will be eligible for promotion to the next grade level. Each district or LEA credit system shall require a student to attain, at a minimum, a portion of the total credits attempted in each area in which credits are attempted except for areas in which instruction is less than a school year before the student will be eligible for promotion to the next grade level. (7-01-10)

02. Credit Recovery. A student who does not meet the minimum requirements of the credit system shall be given an opportunity to recover credits or complete an alternate mechanism in order to become eligible for promotion to next grade level. (7-01-10)

03. Alternate Mechanism. A school district or LEA may establish an alternate mechanism to determine eligibility for grade level promotion. The alternate mechanism shall require a student to demonstrate proficiency of the appropriate content standards. All locally established mechanisms used to demonstrate proficiency will be forwarded to the State Department of Education. Alternate mechanisms must be re-submitted to the Department when changes are made to the mechanism. (7-01-10)

04. Attendance. Attendance shall be an element included in the credit system, alternate mechanism or both. (7-01-10)

05. Special Education Students. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team for a student who is eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act may establish alternate requirements or accommodations to credit requirements as are deemed necessary for the student to become eligible for promotion to the next grade level. (7-01-10)

06. Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. The Educational Learning Plan (ELP) team for a Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, as defined in Subsection 112.04(d)(iv) may, establish alternate requirements or accommodations to credit requirements as deemed necessary for the student to become eligible for promotion to the next grade level. (7-01-10)