In 2019, the Legislature commissioned an evaluation of the Advanced Opportunities (AO) Program (Idaho Code § 33-4601 – 4602). This evaluation considers the AO Program’s use of funds as well as program design and effectiveness. Data for the evaluation came from three primary sources: enrollment and spending data collected by the Idaho State Department of Education, an online survey of 133 AO personnel, and in-depth interviews with eight AO staff across the state. Major findings of this report are summarized below:
Use of Funds
- Idaho spent $19.2 million to fund AO courses in school year (SY) 2018-19, up from $4 million in SY 2015-16.
- 37,268 Idaho students used AO funding in SY 2018-19, up from 15,294 students in SY 2015-16.
- Dual credit courses account for 72 percent of total AO funding.
- Overload courses accounted for 7.4 percent of AO funding, while AP, CTE, CLEP and IB exams made up 8 percent.
- Almost all local education agencies (LEAs) across the state offer dual credit courses to their students.
- AP exams are only taken in 34 percent of LEAs across the state and rural areas are much less likely to offer AP exams.
- AO staff report dual credit courses and CTE exams as priorities for the expansion AO offerings in their schools because of their high demand.
- There is significant overlap between the AO Program and College and Career Advising and Mentoring but the extent of overlap varies by LEA.
- The AO Program’s financial support provides equitable access to AO courses statewide, increases student confidence and college preparedness and individualizes learning.
- The AO Program struggles with the importance of career preparation and an overemphasis on college attendance.
- The state should continue to streamline enrollment and administrative processes across dual credit institutions and AO programs.
Ongoing evaluation and data collection are essential to better understand how the AO Program affects Idaho students. Participation in advanced coursework has increased significantly across the state, yet the effects of this increase on go-on rates and degree completion are unknown. Future evaluations would benefit from student performance data including final grades and exam scores for AO funded courses as well as post-secondary achievement metrics.
Hall, McAllister; Larsen, Benjamin; Osterhout, Gabe; McGinnis-Brown, Lantz; and Crossgrove Fry, Vanessa, "Advanced Opportunities Program Evaluation 2020" (2020). Idaho Policy Institute Reports. 35.