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For over 20 years, Idaho leaders have recognized the critical importance of early childhood literacy. In this time, the Idaho State Legislature, State Board of Education and State Department of Education have put in place policies, rules, plans and programs to support reading proficiency in Idaho’s kindergarten through third grade students. In 2015, the Board of Education published an updated Comprehensive Literacy Plan for the state and the Legislature responded in 2016 by amending statutes related to early literacy development and establishing the current Literacy Intervention Program. Most recently, in 2018, the Legislature requested an external evaluation of the Literacy Intervention Program. This report, by the Idaho Policy Institute, serves as this evaluation. The report briefly reviews early childhood literacy efforts in Idaho to provide the necessary background and context of this program. It then evaluates the Literacy Intervention Program itself and discusses its design, use of funds and effectiveness during its first two years.

We stress that the current Literacy Intervention Program has only been in place since the 2016-17 school year. At the time of this report, we are in the midst of the 2018-19 school year. As such, there are only two full years of data with which to conduct an evaluation. This short time frame limits our ability to fully judge program effectiveness, as students who entered kindergarten during year one of the Program will not finish third grade until 2020. That said, there are early indications of patterns within the data that can inform the manner in which the Program is implemented, and further evaluated, in subsequent years.

Since 1999, when the first Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan was implemented, Idaho has seen an overall increase in literacy in kindergarten to third grade students. This is, in part, due to the State’s commitment to early literacy and ongoing programmatic improvements. The Literacy Intervention Program assessed in this report is just one example of such improvements. By making a commitment to utilizing assessment data to make evidence-based decisions, the State will likely continue to improve on its ability to identify students most in need of additional literacy interventions and, thus, support all students’ efforts to achieve grade level reading by third grade.


This report was prepared by Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and commissioned by the Idaho State Board of Education.