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Smarter Balanced assessments not to be used due to waiver for 2020-21 school year

The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) has released their results for the mathematics and English Language Arts Smarter Balanced assessments. The assessments were given to students in grades three through eight for the 2020-21 academic school year.

These assessments are used to help educators understand and identify where students need additional support for improvement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic’s impact on learning caused federal waivers to be put in place, which eliminated the requirement for 95 percent participation rate among students.

“We are grateful for the herculean efforts educators and families across Nevada underwent to ensure students continued to learn despite the numerous obstacles they faced last year,” said Jhone Ebert, state superintendent of public instruction. “Because of the impacts of the pandemic on education, assessing the quality of schools’ support of students is not a valid use of this year’s assessment results; however, the assessment results can tell us how our students are doing and support us in advancing equity through our efforts to close opportunity gaps between and among student groups.”

For the 2020-21 school year, participation rates ranged from 98 percent to 54 percent among Nevada’s school districts. Students have been impacted two to four times more than the students of Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina.

The assessment data for the school year will not be used under the Nevada School Performance Framework due to the waiver that was approved by the U.S. Department of Education. All schools will maintain their designations that were established during the 2018-19 school year.

For the English Language Arts assessment, Nevada’s overall proficiency level was at 41.4 percent and the statewide participation rate was 68.3 percent. Only eight school districts achieved the 95 percent participation rate: Carson City, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Pershing, Storey and White Pine.

For the mathematics assessment, Nevada’s overall proficiency level was at 26.3 percent and the statewide participation rate was 68.2 percent. Only the same eight school districts that met the participation rate in the ELA assessment were able to meet the mathematics participation rate.

Clark County School District, Nevada’s largest school district, only had a participation rate of 54.1 percent for both assessments. CCSD accounts for nearly 66 percent of all K-12 public school students in Nevada.

Pershing and Lander school districts had the highest ELA assessment participation rate in the state at 98.1 percent. CCSD finished with the lowest participation rate.

Lander School District had the highest mathematics participation rate in the state at 97.9 percent. CCSD, once again, had the lowest participation rate of the state.

“I am grateful to the administrators and educators across the state who persevered to provide high-quality learning opportunities to students,” said Superintendent Ebert. “However, we cannot be satisfied until every single child has the equitable access and support they need in order to demonstrate proficiency, no matter who they are or where they attend school.”

Assessment performance data will be presented and discussed in further detail at the Nevada State Board of Education meeting on Sept. 30, at 2 p.m.

Contact Danny Smyth at dsmyth@pvtimes.com

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