Idaho View: With education numbers like these, Idaho should be worried

Related imageAt its foundation, Idaho public education is not getting better.

It’s getting worse.

As Idaho Education News’ Kevin Richert pointed out recently, 49.8 percent of children in this state showed up for kindergarten last fall unprepared to learn how to read. That’s behind the previous all-time low of 50 percent back in 2006, but the number has never progressed beyond a mediocre 57.8 percent set seven years ago.

Dig a little deeper:

Among American Indians beginning kindergarten, 28.8 percent possessed the prerequisite skills to begin reading.

Hispanic or Latino—25.3 percent.

Limited in English proficiency -18.2 percent.

Economically disadvantaged—36.9 percent.

After a year in class, many of these kids catch up.

Some don’t. As a rule, about 80 percent of kindergartners are reading at grade level by the time they take a proficiency test in the spring. Again, the story is less encouraging when you consider:

American Indians—65.9 percent read at grade level by the spring.

Hispanic or Latino—73.4 percent.

Limited English proficiency—71.2 percent.

Those who emerge from their first year in school behind their peers risk becoming caught in a cycle of academic failure and frustration.

All of which feeds Idaho’s relatively anemic high school graduation rate — at 79.7 percent, it’s lower than all but seven states and tied with two more. Those who drop out of school likely will endure a lifetime of low-wage jobs, social dependency and possible exposure to the criminal justice system.