Idaho schools are getting new features on their online K-12 report cards, but local officials say to be careful when interpreting the information.

The report cards provide a way for parents, educators and others to access information about schools and districts throughout the state.

The reports, first revealed in December, are now updated with 2019 assessment results along with accountability data and results from the 2019 Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and Idaho Reading Indicator.

“I caution parents, though the new features may have the ingredients for great information,” Alica Holthaus, St. Maries school superintendent said, “but some people may not know how to interpret the information, there’s tons there.”

Some officials think that the new reports may be vague and don’t account for the hands-on issues faculty members and students experience with state testing.

“As a superintendent, I always welcome accountability,” Judi Sharrett, Plummer-Worley superintendent said. “However, an issue I have with the rank ordered lists is they don’t take into account the many stories behind high or low test scores, and they don’t factor in the many things a district may be doing to help students increase in student achievement.”

A press release issued by the State Department of Education said results of new engagement surveys for parents and staff that were given this spring in districts across the state, as well as a student survey, which debuted last year for grades 3-8, are also featured on the updated report card and accountability files.

Sections of the new report also addresses whether students are meeting grade-level expectations, the retention rate of teachers in schools and whether students are engaged emotionally and behaviorally.

Mrs. Holthaus said that the info on the new report cards could be potentially confusing or overwhelming for those who may not entirely understand what they are looking at. She also noted that the website is slow going on updating information.

“Please ask questions,” Mrs. Holthaus said, “I went to the site a few weeks back and it wasn’t even updated with 2019 info. Just make sure what you are looking at is up to date and don’t be afraid to call me.”

The Koontenai School District could not be reached for comment on the new report card features.

The new data can be seen on the accountability page at idahoschools.org.

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