April 4, 2013

Our Grads Aren’t Ready!

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 6:48 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter   Photos

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, especially after a lovely Easter weekend, but we have some very serious problems to discuss.

You may not be aware of the terrible performance of our area grads, I certainly was not, so let me give you the facts:

I was shocked to learn that, for the students graduating from Lake City HS who apply to North Idaho College, more than 60% will have to take remedial math before they can start into regular community college classes.  More than 60%…oh my! And these are new grads from high school.  If they’ve been out longer than a year before starting back to school, the numbers are even worse. 

Post Falls HS comes in almost as badly, with 52% of their recent grads going to NIC needing remedial math.  Lakeland HS is at 48%, Sandpoint HS has 41% and CdA High has the “best of the worst” math scores with 37% needing remediation.  That’s still over 1/3 of the new CHS grads going to NIC who are not prepared in math.

This information is for the 2011-2012 timeframe and was given to me by CdA School Board Trustee Ann Seddon, who had a heck of a time getting it from NIC. They said they don’t track these numbers anymore.  Really?  But when Ann asked new NIC Trustee Todd Banducci, who then asked NIC President Joe Dunlap for the information, it was delivered within a few days.

Good for Ann Seddon to push this issue and stick with it! All of our schools need to constantly evaluate their effectiveness. Ann is a retired Arizona teacher who has been tutoring kids in our area for many years.  She looked at the entry requirements for math at NIC and said they are not tough; she compared it to 7th grade math. But many of our area high school grads apparently can’t master that level. Why are these kids allowed to graduate with a High School Diploma if they can’t do basic math?  Why are they not held back until they can achieve a functional knowledge of basic skills?

English & Reading scores were equally disturbing.  Post Falls High was the worst, with 56% of their new grads going to NIC needing remedial English / Reading. More than half! CdA High was next with 40% needing help, Lakeland had 37%, Lake City at 36% and Sandpoint was the “least awful” at 30%.

These kids coming out of our area high schools are unprepared for the local community college.  And these are the kids who want to go on to more education.  Just think of the 50% of high school grads who don’t even try to go on–they are starting out seriously unprepared for even the entry level job market.

So who was in charge while all of this was going on?  Well, in the CdA School District, it was the long-term school board that was recently ousted or resigned. That former school board was very connected with the Teacher’s Union and was strongly in favor of alternate, shall I say “feel good” programs, that dumbed down the basics while focusing on broad, politically correct sociological themes.

Immediately after that former school board was forced out when a District Court judge ruled that Wanda Quinn was illegally appointed to that board as replacement Chairperson, a brand new citizen group was formed by one of Wanda’s close friends.  (Their husbands work together.)  The new group is called “Coeur d’Alene Education Partnership” and includes on its board, Wanda Quinn, former School Board Chair, Diane Zipperer, one of the former School Board members who quit after Wanda was removed, and Paula Marano, former long-time head of the local Teacher’s Union.

There are other members too and this group is working hard to get their people and ideas back into power.  I wonder what they have to say about this new public information regarding the basic Math, English and Reading problems of our high school graduates?

The current School Board, which replaced the old one, is paying much more attention to the functional effectiveness of our schools.  Ann Seddon is one of the new school board members.  She was appointed to fill a seat left empty by someone who resigned, and now Ann must stand for election on May 21st.  She has done a great job in her short time on this new board.  Current School Board Chairman Tom Hamilton said this about Ann:  “Ann – Best of luck in your upcoming election! You’ve been a true asset to the Board. Your education background, focus on education fundamentals and propensity for really digging into issues and analyzing the date have made us all better!”

Please help Ann Seddon with her School Board election.
Mark the date:  May 21st.

You can check out her Facebook page at Ann Seddon 4 Trustee

Or email questions or comments to her at
Or send a much-needed donation (remember the Teacher’s Union will be trying to get her out) to:

Ann Seddon 4 Trustee
2477 W Hull Loop
CDA, ID 83814

We have a great School Board in place right now.  Let’s keep them in and help them change the direction of our school district.  Your attention to this issue and your VOTE on May 21st will make all the difference.  Thank You!

Have a great, even if it’s rainy, weekend.  –Mary

PS—My good friend Brent Regan is a currently appointed School Board Trustee who will also be running for election on May 21st.  He is an incredible resource for our district.  I will write to you about him very soon.

PSS—It’s Spring Break for the schools so I couldn’t get the CdA Charter Academy’s response to this problem with graduates going to NIC.  The Charter Academy is a public school but is not listed on any of the reports from NIC.  I tried to email them but am not surprised they did not answer—they are on break!  My very confident assumption is that either the number of their high school grads needing remedial classes at NIC is zero, or the number of their grads going to NIC is zero.  (I believe they have a 100% rate of grads going on to advanced education. They are ranked #1Best High School in Idaho by US News. The parents of Charter School kids are very motivated and involved, which is a big advantage for any student.)


  1. Mary, is there any data on the percentages from each of the respective schools that go to NIC? Also is there any mean gpa for the students from these schools attending NIC?

    Comment by up river — April 5, 2013 @ 8:46 am

  2. up river,

    This link from my March 30th post titled Former Atlanta School Superintendent Indicted: Test Scores Altered to Pass Unprepared Students may at least partially answer your question.

    Comment by Bill — April 5, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  3. What would you think about a law that would require the payment of course fees for non-College credit math and English classes be made by the local school district that “graduated” the student?

    For example, say SD271 graduates 300 students who have to take sub-100 courses in math or English. NIC requires those courses to be taken, but SD271 would have to pay the tuition and books. Effectively, NIC would be paid to do the job SD271 failed to do in the first place, but SD271 would pay them.

    My thought is that if this was made a pocketbook issue for the local school district, it would cease to be an issue.

    Comment by Dan — April 5, 2013 @ 9:21 am

  4. Dan,

    I agree making it a pocketbook issue might reduce the need for remedial courses, but I think the pocketbook should be the one belonging to the student or whoever is paying the student’s bills. If you make SD 271 pay, the cost will be diffused among all the taxpayers. That reduces the incentive for students or parents to seek corrections. The more it hits the students or the bill-payers in their pocketbooks, the greater the personal incentive to improve.

    Comment by Bill — April 5, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  5. Dan, your idea could be dovetailed into a reform from the Students Come First laws, which are under consideration for future action by the legislature, by tying it into a pay for performance element. I believe this may be a statewide problem. It would be helpful to know if our other two junior colleges in Boise and Twin Falls have stats to look at that have similar results.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — April 5, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  6. A good place to start might be to put together a presentation for the Governors’ Task Force on Education that will be holding a community forum at NIC’s Lake CDA Room in the Student Union Bldg. on April 16 at 6:30 pm.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — April 5, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

  7. Thanks Bill,
    I think that in evaluating the specific NIC statistics that it would be important to know the data on the percentage of the total graduates from each of the respective schools and the mean gpa for the students from these schools. It may be that the test results are exactly what would be expected regarding those who attend NIC.

    Comment by up river — April 8, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  8. UpRiver, the info obtained by School Board Trustee Ann Seddon did not include all of the specifics you cite above. I agree that there should be more detailed evaluation of the problem. But when an elected School Board member has such a hard time getting even the basic statistics from NIC, it does not reflect well on the college’s process of reporting, and it also shows how remiss the previous CdA School Board must have been in gathering such information.

    Comment by mary — April 8, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  9. I spoke to this issue at the legislators’ town hall meeting last Saturday, making reference to Mary’s newsletter. Senator Nonni said that the stats are the same on the application experience at Idaho’s other two junior colleges. He also said there is a legislative interim study committee looking at education issues on which he is a member, and that this issue on board. We’ll see. This committee is in addition to the Governor’s Task Force that I mentioned above.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — April 8, 2013 @ 11:30 am

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