"We must spend every dollar efficiently or we shouldn't spend it at all. With resources shrinking, it's more important than ever to evaluate how we are spending what we currently have and making every dollar count."
Accountability is the hallmark of Superintendent Luna's administration. In the last three years, the Superintendent has implemented unprecedented initiatives and programs to improve student achievement. From raising the academic bar on middle school students to focusing the state's efforts to reinvigorate how math is taught, Superintendent Luna has put forth more measures to ensure students and schools are accountable. As a former school board trustee and successful businessman, Superintendent Luna believes if a program isn't showing results, it needs to be re-evaluated and the money spent differently. New programs and reinvigorated efforts are working! The results? Idaho is leading the nation in gains in student achievement.
Idaho has led the nation in the increase in the number of schools reaching high academic goals for the past two years in a row. Since 2007, the number of schools reaching the goal, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), has increased from 26 percent to 66 percent. In addition, on the most recent Nation's Report Card, only eight states scored above Idaho in mathematics. This significant progress is not a coincidence. It is a direct result of the efforts from our talented teachers, dedicated parents and hard-working students as well as targeted resources Superintendent Luna has directed to the classroom. We all know how frustrating it is to attend a school with outdated textbooks and where teachers must constantly dip into their own pockets to pay for paper, pencils and other supplies. Instead of continuing to talk about these problems, Superintendent Luna has worked to fix it. In his first budget presentation to the Legislature, Superintendent Luna proposed the $20 million Classroom Enhancement Package. Finally, schools were given targeted money to replace outdated textbooks and provide extra assistance to students who struggle. In addition, every classroom teacher received $350 to purchase the supplies and materials they need to help improve student achievement.
For years, Idaho has struggled with effectively measuring and evaluating student achievement data. Students and schools will never be truly accountable until every stakeholder has the data they need to make current, accurate decisions. Unfortunately, many of the decisions made in education today are based on very "well-educated guesses" because we simply don't have the data systems in place to collect and report the information we need. Idaho is one of only two states without a statewide longitudinal data system. Superintendent Luna is changing that. His efforts to secure funding from the Idaho Legislature and competitive federal grants mean Idaho teachers, parents, students and stakeholders will finally have the information they need to effectively evaluate student achievement. No longer will teachers have to spend valuable time reassessing what students already know. If a student leaves a school in Idaho Falls on Friday and shows up in Coeur d'Alene on Monday, their digital backpack will follow them.