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North Idaho students average higher than state on Idaho Reading Indicator

| July 10, 2024 1:00 AM

The majority of Idaho's kindergarten-through-third graders hit the right metrics and many showed improvements in their reading abilities after taking Idaho's early literacy test this spring.

Data from the Spring 2024 Idaho Reading Indicator shows score increases over Spring 2023 for kindergartners, first graders and third graders while Idaho second graders maintained their proficiency rates, the Idaho Department of Education reported in a Tuesday news release.

Each spring and fall, Idaho young students take the IRI as required by Idaho Code 33-1806. The assessment allows Idaho educators to better understand the needs of early learners in phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Overall, North Idaho's students fared better than their counterparts across the state this spring.

In the Coeur d'Alene School District, the Spring 2024 IRI was taken by 2,704 students: 2,050 students, or 75.8%, tested at grade level; 373 students, or 13.8%, were near grade level; and 281 students, or 10.4%, tested below grade level, according to the composite scores presented by the Idaho State Department of Education.

Of the 1,833 Post Falls School District kindergarten-through-third graders who took the IRI, composite scores showed 1,450 (79.1%) tested at grade level, 212 (11.6%) were near grade level and 171 (9.3%) tested below grade level.

The Lakeland Joint School District's composite scores showed that 1,232 students took the IRI: 925, or 75.1%, were at grade level; 176 students, or 14.3%, were near grade level, and 131 students, or 10.6%, were below grade level.

In the Kootenai School District, 61 students participated. Of those, 42 (68.9%) tested at grade level, 8 (13.1%) were near grade level and 11 (18%) tested below grade level, according to the IRI's composite scores.

In spring 2023, 91,437 K-3 Idaho students participated in the IRI. Of those, 65.66% were at grade level, 17.65% were near grade level and 16.69% were below grade level. This spring, 89,446 students participated and of those, 66.5% tested at grade level, 16.8% were near grade level and 16.7% were below grade level.

“Though gains in the spring-to-spring IRI numbers are modest for kindergartners, first and third graders, data suggests that an increased emphasis on effective instruction in early literacy, including a focus on teaching the science of reading, is showing a return on investment,” Chief Deputy Superintendent Ryan Cantrell said in the news release. “I’m pleased to see these results from this assessment cycle.”

Statewide highlights from the spring-to-spring IRI data include:

• One percentage point increase for kindergartners reading at grade level, up to 66% from 65% in 2023
• Two percentage point increase for first graders reading at grade level, from 62% proficient in 2023 to 64% in 2024
• One percentage point increase for third graders reading at grade level, up to 67% in 2024 from 66% in 2023
• All grade levels held steady on the number of students reading below grade level

“Ensuring our students leave third grade prepared for ‘reading to learn’ is absolutely essential,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield said in the news release. “We can expect to see steady improvements that our policy goals, like developing growth models that target our lowest performing readers, offering optional full-day kindergarten and emphasizing that our colleges prepare our educators to teach phonics were meant to bring. As these policies are further implemented, district and statewide, we expect to see continued growth.”

    Critchfield