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Quarter of Silver State schools deemed underperforming

Roughly a fourth of Nevada’s schools were deemed less than proficient according to a report released by the Nevada Department of Public Education (NDPE) this week.

Individual academic performance for the Silver State’s 604 public schools was based on the new Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF) for the 2012-13 school year.

NSPF, which was implemented during the 2011-12 school year, replaced the antiquated Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability system mandated by No Child Left Behind.

Under AYP, progress and performance was determined by English and math test scores taken by the students each school year.

NSPF uses a star rating for each school based on the total points achieved across multiple indicators.

A school with five stars indicates a high performance across all indicators, while one star represents low performances across those same indicators, each worth a predetermined maximum number of points. Each performance indicator is itself a composition of multiple factors.

At present, in the Pahrump Valley, both J.G. Johnson and Floyd Elementary schools garnered only two stars.

Manse and Hafen Elementary, along with Rosemary Clarke Middle and Pahrump Valley High School earned three stars.

Some Nevada schools do not fall under the NSPF umbrella such as special education and alternative schools.

Other rural schools have such low enrollment numbers, the NDPE believes they cannot generate valid numbers to provide reliable data demonstrating school performance.

Pathways Middle and High School were not rated due to their alternative relegation.

In Nye County proper, Beatty High School received the highest marks of all with an index score of more than 65 percent.

Amargosa Valley Elementary School showed the lowest index score with 27 percent.

Only Gabbs and Duckwater were among the schools that qualified as not rated in all of Nye County.

The new NSPF system analyzes and reports academic performance based upon several measures of student achievement unlike the AYP’s single proficiency measure.

State Superintendent Dale Erquiaga told reporters that dwindling performance scores as of late should not be misconstrued that students are falling further behind.

“I don’t want this data to be used to say our students and our schools did worse. We’re expecting more of them,” he said.

There are benefits for higher performing schools.

A school that earns 77 out of 100 points to achieve a five-star status will be given autonomy to operate under less district and state control.

An index score is the sum of all the factors measured against the star rating criteria.

Some of those factors include school Median Growth Percentile (MGP) and Average Daily Attendance (ADA).

The number of high-performing, five-star schools in Nevada dropped from 112 in the 2011-12 school year to a mere 82 schools last year.

The number of four-star and three-star schools stands at 91 and 272 respectively under the new system.

There were at least 100 two-star schools and 19 one-star schools in the state.

Meanwhile, Erquiaga suggested that under the new system, Nevada will eventually help to raise academic standards at educational institutions and at the same time boost the economy.

“The move to new standards is critical to Nevada’s progress. In Nevada, almost one third of our high school graduates must take remedial classes to prepare for college level coursework. Nevada’s new standards, which promote critical thinking, reasoning and application of knowledge are expected to reduce the need for remedial classes. These standards will also strengthen the state’s workforce and economy as more students are able to finish higher education with certificates or degrees,” he said.

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