Storey County has one of the state's smallest school districts, but some of its best students, according to recent test results.
The Iowa Tests of Educational Development were administered this spring to all Nevada 10th-graders. Virginia City High School ranked first in reading, language and science skills, and tied for second with Douglas County in math.
"We're very excited," said Virginia City High School Principal Patrick Beckwith. "To see us compare so well to other schools is great."
The test scores are used to compare school districts' performance, rather than rank individual students, he said.
"It's a tribute to teachers at Virginia City High School but also to the teachers at the elementary and middle schools, because they lay the foundation," he said.
Beckwith said rural districts have an inherent advantage because of their smaller size.
Douglas High School also fared well, finishing second in reading, language and science and tied for second in the state in math.
Carson City finished fifth in reading, eighth in language, tied with Churchill County for third in math and tied with Pershing County for 12th in science.
Carson City Schools Superintendent Mary Pierczynski said she was pleased students in her district exceeded the state average. Carson students did do better than the state average.
She said smaller districts do better because they don't have the challenges diversity and non-English speaking students bring.
"We'd like to be the very highest in the state," she said, "but when you look at the demographics of our school district, we reflect the demographics of a bigger county. We vie with Clark County with English as a Second Language learners, and we have a higher percentage than a larger district."
Lyon County 10th-graders tied for 6th with Washoe County in reading, tied for 7th with Pershing in language, was 10th in math and 4th in science.
Still, they did better than the year before, according to Scott Lommori, the director of testing and technology for Lyon County School District.
Lommori added that teachers at the county's four high schools were working harder on remediation and using another way to improve students' weakest areas.
He said teachers were focusing on strands, part of a state standards program that helps the students with what they struggle with most.
"In math, one strand is algebra, another is geometry," he said. "The teachers have a prescription for every kid and that prescription helps them guide instruction."
He said Lyon's position as the fastest-growing county made education more of a challenge.
"Growth is a big part of it, all those different variables come into it," he said. "But what we're doing with the prescriptions has been the most beneficial.
Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or call 881-7351.