CARSON CITY, NV January 17, 2018
Nearly $500 million in new categorical spending and recent academic achievement results from Nevada are not included in Education Week’s release of its 2018 Quality Counts ranking today.
“I will be the first to say that Nevada’s academic achievement performance must improve, but this is an out-of-date snapshot of where we are as a state,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I said last year when this report came out and I’ll say it again, this report tells us where Nevada was, not where we are going. The Governor and our Legislature have made education in our state a priority and we have pledged to become the fastest improving state in the nation.”
Nevada’s standing was unchanged from last year, ranking 51st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an overall score of 65 out of 100 points and a grade of D. The nation as a whole posted a total score of 74.5 and a grade of C. However, the assessment data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) on math and reading is from 2015 and the school finance data is also from 2015, which doesn’t account for nearly $500 million the legislature has invested in K-12 education during the last two sessions.
Using 2015 data, Nevada ranked ahead of 13 states and the District of Columbia in K-12 Achievement. Quality Counts bases its K-12 Achievement rankings on NAEP, a U.S. Department of Education assessment that occurs every other year using a sampling of students. Last year, Nevada eighth graders received “Star State” national recognition from NAEP for science programs because our average eighth grade science scores had outpaced the rest of the nation since 2009. Nevada uses the Smarter Balanced Assessment annually for third through eighth grade. This year, Nevada’s elementary school students improved their math scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment 2.06 points to 40.65 percent proficiency.
Nevada’s poor rating in School Finance doesn’t take into account the new programs that were created in the 2015 session that received $343 million in funding. The 2017 Legislature added an additional $152 million to programs that were created in 2015. The new education initiatives funded by the legislature that the Quality Counts report doesn’t take into account include Zoom schools for English learners; Victory Schools for high poverty, Read by Grade 3, Nevada Ready 21 for technology education, Great Teaching and Leading Fund; Underperforming Turnaround Program, Career and Technical Education, and the College and Career Ready Grant.
Quality Counts gave Nevada a D-plus in its Chance for Success category. This ranking doesn’t take into account the $72 million the 2017 Legislature added to fund weights for students in poverty and English learners. This specifically added a new weight of $1,200 per pupil for students who receive free or reduced lunch or are English learners and fall into the bottom quartile of performance. Other additional appropriations in 2017 included $30 million to expand Special Education weights, $4.3 million to expand services for Gifted and Talented Education, $17 million for Read by Grade 3 and $2.8 million for Career and Technical Education.
Highlighting progress Nevada’s K-12 education system has made includes:
- Nevada’s graduation rate has exceeded the Every Student Succeeds Act goal of 2020 with a graduation rate of 80.55 percent, an increase of seven percentage points over last year.
- Early Childhood Education exceeded its goal of 12 four- or five-star rated early childhood centers this year with 19.
- Schools in Nevada have increased the number of preschool students with disabilities participating in regular classrooms 3.2 percentage points to 33 percent and are on track to increase that inclusion rate to 40 percent in the current year.
- Career and Technical Education certificate program completers increased from 1,275 to 9,697.
- For two years running, Nevada students led the nation in the rate at which they improved their performance on AP exams with an increase of 10.8 percent scoring a 3, 4, or 5 indicating college readiness. A score of 3 projects a C in a college freshman class, a 4 is a B and a 5 is an A.