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Report: Just 5 percent of Nye juniors and seniors college-ready

When it comes to being prepared for college, Nye County high school students are among the least ready to continue their education after graduation, according to one exam.

In a study of Nevada 11th and 12th grade students who took the ACT test, only five percent of those students were considered to be college-ready, according to numbers released by the Nevada Department of Education last week. The number was low enough to place Nye County 14th out of 18 school districts in Nevada.

The report showed that a total of 410 Nye County high school students (396 juniors, 14 seniors) took the ACT test in the 2015-16 school year and just the five percent met the four benchmarks used to determine college preparedness.

Newly-appointed associate superintendent Dennis Scherz explained that the ACT test being made mandatory for all high school juniors to take in 2015 had something to do with the low scores. But Scherz assured that the NCSD is ready to tackle the ACT issue and get kids’ interest up in the test.

“It’s a situation where in the prior years it was a test given to just students interested in attending college,” Scherz said. “One of our goals for the district is to try and get more students thinking about that opportunity. Whether it be a four-year college, technical college.”

With the ACT test being made mandatory, Scherz said that kids look at the test differently, depending on if their post-high school goals include further schooling or not.

“Being a former principal, I know that getting students to think about what their opportunities are after high school is key,” he said. “The kids that know they want to go to college and the ones who aren’t considering college approach the test differently.”

With Nye County being a in rural setting, Scherz believes that affects some students’ plans after high school, as employment opportunities are there right after they graduate.

“It’s not uncommon in areas like ours where, I use Tonopah for example, that there are opportunities to make pretty good money working in a mine and because of that, it is difficult to get them out of that mindset,” he said. “They know if they can pick up a skill, like welding, that they can make even more money.”

Being a former principal at Tonopah High School, Scherz knows trying to get them out of that one-track mindset is tough, but preaching keeping their options open is key.

“We try to communicate to the students to give yourself all the opportunities. If you get an education at a technical school or a college you can always go back and work in the mine, but if you go from high school to a job, you restrict your opportunities.”

The number is down one percent from the 2014-15 school year where six percent of students who took the ACT were considered ready for college. This coincides with the graduation rate dropping in the Nye County School Distrct from 70 percent in 2014 to 67 percent in 2013.

Statewide, just nine percent met all four benchmarks, seven percent met three benchmarks, 10 percent met two benchmarks, 14 percent met one benchmark and 60 percent met zero benchmarks.

Each school district in the state was compared to the national average scale score in English (18), mathematics (22), reading (22) and science (23), to figure out their performance rate.

In Nye County, the average scale score in English was 14.62, math was 16.86, reading was 17.09 and science was 17.42. All four of those were at least 3.38 below the national average and as high as 5.58 points below the threshold.

There was a total of 33,269 high school students in Nevada that took an ACT test, which was 3,138 more students than the previous school year.

Eureka County had the highest percent of high school students ready for college out of the 18 school districts in Nevada with 25 percent meeting all four benchmarks, and Storey County was lowest with none of their 17 students who took the ACT being deemed college-ready.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Find him on Twitter: @mickakers.

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