BOISE — Over the next several months, Idaho Business for Education and Hewlett-Packard will complete a comprehensive study — the first of its kind in the U.S. — to determine the status of Idaho’s education in an effort to inform lawmakers and education leaders.

The Idaho Education and Employability study, set to wrap up in June, is intended to assist the work of Gov. Brad Little’s newly announced education task force and strengthen Idaho’s education and economic competitiveness, according to Rod Gramer, President and CEO of Idaho Business for Education.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for Idaho to have a study like this done,” Gramer said.

The study will be conducted through surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews, to get first-hand accounts of Idaho’s education system. A team of people from HP will complete the study with the help of key education stakeholder groups, such as the Idaho State Board of Education, according to Gramer.

“We’ll try and create a road map to ensure that Idaho is able to navigate the fourth industrial revolution and continue its really great economic growth in its recent past and into the future,” said Gus Schmedlen, vice president of worldwide education for HP.

Schmedlen said the team will visit at least 10 Idaho schools and business leaders, as well as analyze already-created literature.

“(Idaho’s) economic, social future is very important to HP as a company as we continue our investment in Idaho,” Schmedlen said. “It’s certainly an investment that’s paid off for HP and one that we hope continues.”

In the past, studies such as this have helped offer recommendations to legislators to strengthen teacher education and ongoing professional development and to update curricula to match the jobs of the future, among other things, Schmedlen said.

“We hope that our guidance, above all, will be actionable, realistic and from the lens of Idaho instead of from the lens of another state,” Schmedlen said.

Similar studies have been conducted in Hungary, Ecuador, Peru and Indonesia, though this is the first time that the same methodology will be applied to a U.S. state, according to Schmedlen.

The announcement follows Idaho Business for Education’s Seventh Annual Legislative Academy on Monday.

The academy, which is held on the first day of the legislative session each year, brought together more than 200 education leaders, legislators and stakeholders to discuss Idaho’s education issues, trends and the economy. Specifically, the academy discussed the fourth industrial revolution — artificial intelligence — and its impact on the economy and education.

“It’s kind of related to what we’re unveiling today,” Gramer said. “This study is going to sort of piggyback on that and go more in depth to get more feedback from people in Idaho.”

Savannah Cardon is the Caldwell reporter for the Idaho Press. Follow her on Twitter, @savannahlcardon, or reach her at 208-465-8172.

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