Four schools in the Carson City School District slipped in their ranking in the school accountability framework released this week. Five remained the same, and Carson Montessori School, a public charter school sponsored through the school district, received the only five-star rating.
“Student achievement did not go down in the district; accountability increased,” said Susan Keema, associate superintendent of instruction for the district. “While the state’s accountability requirements increased, this is about what we expected. But we don’t like it. We’re disappointed, of course.”
Twenty-five percent of schools in Nevada are ranked lower than in the previous school year. This year, 82 schools received a five-star rating, down from 112 schools the year before.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga said that is to be expected.
“We can attribute the result of fewer schools receiving a five-star rating to the fact that Nevada has steadily raised expectations for student achievement over the last few years as part of its education reform agenda,” he said in a statement. “We can anticipate a continued temporary downward trend in overall student proficiency as new and more rigorous standards and assessments are implemented, but we can also rest assured that our students will be better prepared. Parents and businesses should know that these star ratings present an increasingly accurate and forward-looking picture of college and career readiness expectations.”
The Nevada School Performance Framework, approved in 2012, defines the state’s shift away from AYP to a system in which schools earn a rating of one to five stars.
Under the star ranking system, elementary schools are ranked based on student growth on tests as well as attendance rates, among other factors.
High school indicators include student proficiency, graduation rates, college and career readiness and attendance rates.
Keema said she prefers the new system.
“I think it provides for more well-rounded accountability to all student groups over the traditional No Child Left Behind System we were under before,” she said. “Because it gives a better picture, we are better able to compare not only our district to others in Nevada, but Nevada to other states as we prepare our students to be college and career ready.
This year, six schools received three stars, two schools earned two stars, one school received four stars and another got five.
“For our two-star schools, we have a plan,” Keema said. “You’ll see them rise to the occasion next year. For our schools that slipped a bit, you’ll see them rise, too.”
Silver State Charter High School, sponsored by the State Department of Education, earned two stars, up from one last year. Silver State Charter Middle School received one star for the second consecutive year.
Under legislation passed this session, charter schools with three consecutive years of one-star ratings on the Nevada school-ranking system will be forced to close.
Steve Knight, superintendent of the online hybrid charter schools, said earlier this year that the school has changed its structure to include more specific instruction time, which could help those scores improve.
In Lyon County, eight schools received a four-star ranking and 12 earned three stars.
“We anticipated a drop,” said Lyon County School District Superintendent Keith Savage. “The encouraging piece was three of our high schools increased. We’re going to keep everyone moving forward with our Common Core curriculum, which is what our students are going to be assessed on in the future.”