Idaho’s Reading Challenge

Idaho has a big education problem, and it starts early. Fewer than half of Idaho’s kindergartners aren’t ready to learn to read. Thousands of young children can’t read at grade level. If they don’t catch up by the end of third grade, they’re likely to struggle as long as they stay in school.

To examine the problem — and seek solutions — Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert talked to teachers, administrators and parents from West Bonner County to Idaho Falls.

This eight-part series looks at what’s working, and what gets in the way. This series also examines Idaho’s $26 million investment in literacy, and whether this taxpayer money will make a difference.

Reading realities: Idaho is far from its lofty literacy goals

Moving the needle on reading — and preparing young kids for the world that awaits them — will take time. And money.

By the numbers: How schools spend reading money, and define success

Every fall, school districts and charter schools must explain how they spend their share of literacy money. They also have to set goals, though some schools seem to take goal-setting more seriously than others.

What’s working: Reading success stories from five Idaho schools

Some of Idaho’s reading success stories are unfolding in remote, rural schools. Scores are improving significantly. Student growth far exceeds the statewide rate.

Young readers face demographic hurdles — some obvious, others subtle

“We can’t hang our hat on that we can’t get the job done because we can’t control the kids we get,” said Debbie Critchfield, president of the State Board of Education.

Two years in, teachers are still learning about Idaho’s new reading test

By and large, teachers say the new Idaho Reading Indicator provides better data and timelier information than its predecessor. But some teachers and parents concede the online format poses problems.

All-day kindergarten takes off in Idaho. Is pre-K next?

Idaho's literacy program is already reshaping early education — changing the school day for thousands of young children, and offering new options to their parents.

Little embraces the literacy issue — for the long haul

Gov. Brad Little knows it will take a sustained effort to improve literacy in Idaho. But he says everything else in education will build off of it. “I can’t have them college and career ready if they’re not literate.”

For kids and their parents, the reading journey starts and continues at home

Behind every score on the Idaho Reading Indicator, behind every intervention plan to help an at-risk student, there is a child’s story. And the parents' story. Stories of struggles, successes and uncertainties.