Northern Idaho students score higher on the Idaho Reading Indicator than the state on average.

Most Idaho children (kindergarten through third grade) scored adequately, and many showed improvement in reading skills after taking the Idaho Early Literacy Test this spring.

Data from the spring 2024 Idaho Reading Indicator report shows that scores for kindergartners, first-graders and third-graders increased compared to spring 2023, while Idaho’s second-graders maintained their proficiency rates, the Idaho Department of Education said in a news release Tuesday.

Each spring and fall, young students in Idaho take the IRI test, as required by Idaho Code 33-1806. This assessment allows Idaho teachers to better understand the needs of early childhood students in phonetics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.

Overall, northern Idaho students fared better than their peers across the state this spring.

In the Coeur d’Alene School District, 2,704 students took the IRI test in spring 2024: 2,050 students, or 75.8%, took the test at grade level; 373 students, or 13.8%, were near grade level; and 281 students, or 10.4%, took the test below grade level, according to aggregate results provided by the Idaho State Department of Education.

Of the 1,833 Post Falls School District students (kindergarten through third grade) who took the IRI test, composite scores showed that 1,450 (79.1%) scored at grade level, 212 (11.6%) were near grade level, and 171 (9.3%) scored below grade level.

Lakeland Joint School District’s aggregate results showed that 1,232 students took the IRI test: 925, or 75.1%, were at grade level; 176 students, or 14.3%, were near grade level; and 131 students, or 10.6%, were below grade level.

In the Kootenai School District, 61 students participated. Of these, 42 (68.9%) scored at grade level, 8 (13.1%) were near grade level, and 11 (18%) scored below grade level, according to the IRI composite scores.

In spring 2023, 91,437 students in grades K-3 in Idaho participated in IRI. Of those, 65.66% were at grade level, 17.65% were near grade level, and 16.69% were below grade level. This spring, 89,446 students participated, and of those, 66.5% scored at grade level, 16.8% were near grade level, and 16.7% were below grade level.

“Although the increases in IRI numbers from spring to spring are modest for kindergarten, first grade and third grade students, the data suggest that an increased focus on effective early literacy instruction, including a focus on teaching reading skills, is producing a return on investment,” said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ryan Cantrell in a press release. “I am pleased to see these results from this assessment cycle.”

Status highlights from IRI spring data include:

• One percentage point more preschool children reading at grade level, up to 66% from 65% in 2023.
• A two percent increase in the number of first-grade students reading at grade level, from 62% proficient in 2023 to 64% in 2024.
• One percentage point more third-grade students can read at grade level, up to 67% in 2024 from 66% in 2023.
• The number of students reading below grade level remained constant across all grades

“Ensuring that our students graduate from third grade prepared to ‘read to learn’ is absolutely critical,” said Debbie Critchfield, director of public education, in a press release. “We can expect to see continued improvements that our policy goals, such as developing growth models that target our lowest-achieving readers, offering optional full-day kindergarten, and emphasizing that our colleges prepare our teachers to teach phonics, have been designed to achieve. As we continue to implement these policies across the district and state, we expect to see continued growth.”