Reducing bullying to improve the quality of education: that's one of the goals of the Idaho State's Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sherri Ybarra.
Ybarra was in Pocatello at Idaho State University Wednesday to talk about some of her goals for 2017.
"We have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be proud of," said Ybarra.
Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said one thing to be proud of is the increase in the number of high school students taking college courses.
Ybarra said her goal of restoring operational funding was supposed to take five years but only took one, and that's a huge accomplishment.
Ybarra said even with all the positives, she still has some goals for improvement next year. Her biggest goal is student safety, focusing on how to help with bullying, which she said is much too common.
"It's alive and well and what the kids told me is 'there's an app for that,' unfortunately," said Ybarra. "And so safety is everyone's responsibility and as the mother of a public school student and a 20-year educator, kids cannot learn in that environment."
Ybarra wants to make it a requirement for educators to take safety training. This would include training each individual about how to deal with student threats and talk of suicide.
"I want individual educators to also be armed with more information and more knowledge about what they can do and what avenues they can take when things are happening to our students," said Ybarra.
Another goal Ybarra has moving forward is to make the ACT the required test rather than the SAT. She believes the ACT is more beneficial, especially because results show students don't perform as well on the SATs.
ISU students who have experience with both tests had mixed reactions to this possible change.
"The ACT was a lot easier for me to understand and I think it prepared me better for college, so I prefer that test," said Punky Collins, an ISU student. "I've talked to a lot of my friends and they all did better on the ACT too."
Another student, Sandra Carillo, said she thinks having only the ACT could potentially limit higher education.
"It might limit the choice of schools that students are able to get into, since some schools prefer the SAT and some schools prefer the ACT," said Carillo.
Stephanie Vera said she thinks both tests should still be required.
"I think it's a good idea because everyone should take the ACT in case they want to go to college or not, but I also think that they should take the two tests," said Vera.
Ybarra said she wants everyone to understand that this ACT change is not a guaranteed thing, but it is something that she's strongly pushing for on the horizon.
Ybarra also talked at ISU Wednesday about the review of Idaho's education standards. She said there's been a high success rate, especially with Common Core math. Educators, parents and students show a 90 percent support rate for Common Core. Because of the standards' success, Ybarra said she is recommending that all standards remain in place.
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT