Moscow, ID

By addressing areas for improvement identified through Cognia’s rigorous accreditation process, the Moscow School District in Moscow, Idaho, boosted academic performance and helped students withstand the disengaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about pathways to improvement with membership in the Cognia global network.


While Moscow School District (MSD) in Moscow, Idaho, had a reputation as a high-performing district, district leaders believed there was more they could do to improve student engagement and provide equitable learning opportunities. MSD partnered with Cognia to evaluate schools’ instructional programs and practices, learning conditions, and cultural contexts, as well as district policies. The aim was to determine how well those components worked together to meet students’ needs. MSD leadership used feedback from the evaluation to establish goals and implement a continuous improvement process.


Cognia specialists evaluated MSD’s performance against the Cognia Performance Standards through a series of interviews with stakeholder groups (students, parents, staff, and system leaders), analysis of financial and staffing documentation, classroom visits and observations using Cognia’s Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool®, and other reviews. Using the resulting data, they identified improvement priorities, which formed the basis for MSD’s new districtwide goals. Those goals help to form four questions that guided communication and collaboration within and between grade-level teams, and between school buildings. The questions also led to an increase in instructional practices that engaged students in learning. One of the improvement priorities was enhanced communication, both internally and with students’ families, which proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Prior to its improvement initiatives, MSD’s 2,400+ students were already outperforming averages for the Idaho Standards Achievement Test system. However, once it began its continuous improvement process, the percentage of students who ranked as advanced on state science tests jumped from 39% to 46% over a five-year period. The district also achieved greater collaboration among educators and increased student engagement and achievement. Cognia Student Engagement Surveys administered during the 2020–21 school year found that only 7% of MSD students were no longer invested in learning despite the pandemic and lockdown disruptions. That percentage was less than half of the 18% of K–12 students nationwide who described themselves as “much less motivated” in a 2020 Education Week survey.

MSD’s partnership with Cognia has placed its students and educators on an ever-upward trajectory.

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