Final proficiency results reported

Ten Carson High School seniors were notified Friday that they failed their proficiency exams and will not be able to participate in graduation ceremonies, more than doubling the number from last year.

The same news was given to six seniors at Carson City's alternative school, Pioneer High.

Last year, four students who met all other requirements for graduation failed the state-mandated test at Carson High School.

Mike Watty, associate superintendent of education, said he is not sure why the number increased over the past year.

"It's certainly a concern," he said. "We've felt like we've done everything we can to give students an opportunity for remediation."

Classes aimed at improving skills needed for the proficiency exam, particularly the math portion, are available at the high school. Special sessions are offered over summer break.

"Unfortunately, not all of these students took advantage of those classes," Watty said. "That's disappointing to us."

Pioneer High School principal Charles Keller said disappointment mingled with jubilation at his school Friday.

"I had kids in my office literally in tears because they had made it, and there were kids in tears because they hadn't made it," he said. "I feel for both of them."

Although all six have committed to retake the test as many times as it takes to pass, Keller said it is hard to see them put so much work into something and fail.

"It's terribly frustrating for teachers, for me, for the students -- they put in every effort they can."

Watty said district officials are working to arm students at a younger age with the skills to pass the test.

He expects the administration of criterion-referenced tests in grades 3 through 8 to prepare students for the high school proficiency exam.

"They are aligned with the state standards just as the proficiency exam is," he explained. "Not only will it give them practice in taking high-stakes tests but it will give parents, teachers and students specific results of how they're meeting the standards."

Officials will also be meeting over the summer to remap the math curriculum, emphasizing areas that have been trouble spots on the exam.

"We'll start at the high school proficiency exam and work backwards," Watty said. "We look at what the areas of weakness are and try to focus on them."

Carson City's school board adopted a policy earlier this year prohibiting students who don't pass the proficiency exam from participating in graduation ceremonies.

Douglas County has a similar policy and Storey County is working to draft one.

Lyon County's policy is to allow students to walk through the ceremony to receive a certificate of attendance. Washoe and Clark counties also allow students to walk in graduation if they've met all other requirements excluding the proficiency exam.


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