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NCLB Outrages

More than half state's public schools fail to make fed grade

By Emily Richmond

More than half of Nevada's public schools failed to show "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for the 2004-05 academic year, state education officials announced Monday.

Of the 608 public schools and programs evaluated, 56 percent did not make the required progress. That's up from 38 percent for the prior academic year.

In order to be classified as having made the adequate annual progress, schools must show improvement on standardized test scores both overall and by various subgroups of students, broken down by ethnicity, those who qualify for free and reduced-price meals, special education status and students with limited proficiency in English.

Statewide 165 schools have been placed on the "watch list," for failing to make enough progress. That total is up from 103 in the prior year. Another 174 schools have been identified as "needs improvement" for at least two consecutive years of low test scores, up from 122 in 2004.

Keith Rheault, superintendent of public instruction for the Nevada Department of Education, attributed the increase in campuses failing to make adequate progress in part to an increase in the minimum test scores. Under the federal law states must increase their test-score targets at least every three years. States must have 100 percent of their students demonstrating proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics by the 2013-14 academic year.

Under the federal law, schools that repeatedly fail to make adequate progress face sanctions, with penalties increasing with each successive year on the "needs improvement" list. After three years the state must send a team to visit the school and must make recommendations for changes, including replacing key personnel.

In addition to meeting performance standards a 95-percent participation rate must be met, both schoolwide and by student subgroups. Of the Nevada schools that did not make adequate progress, 19 fell short solely on participation in math while 14 did not meet the requirement in the English language arts section of the standardized tests. None of those schools were in Clark County.

Two-thirds of Clark County's public schools -- 205 campuses -- did not make adequate progress. In Washoe County, the state's second-largest district after Clark County, 55 percent of the schools failed to make adequate progress.

Schools that show extraordinary gains may be rated "high achieving." If at least 40 percent of a school's students score in the top 25 percent nationally on standardized tests the campus is designated "exemplary." Clark County had 19 "high achieving" schools while Washoe County had nine. Both districts had one "exemplary" school each.

— Emily Richmond
Las Vegas Sun


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