Carson City schools are working on how to allocate their resources to their greatest needs after the Nevada School Performance Framework Star Ratings showed more than half of its schools or programs received the lower one- or two-star ratings for the 2022-23 school year.
The district’s Board of Trustees heard a presentation about the Nevada Department of Education’s report to help put schools on a path on academic recovery in October. The information was intended to address strategies in overcoming persistent learning loss in classrooms since the 2020 pandemic.
Dr. Ricky Medina, Carson’s director of accountability and assessment, shared with the board the NSPF results that were released statewide for the first time since the pandemic and noted the state’s overall increase in schools that were rated with only one or two stars.
“A part of it is folks recognize we’re still struggling through COVID, but at the same time, we don’t want to totally get rid of accountability,” he said. “The purpose of this model was to separate schools out to really identify the schools that had the most needs to get them the most support. Right now, there are so many one-star schools and two-star schools. We can’t help all of them.”
The accountability system that rates schools released results for the first time in September and showed more schools had not or only partially met the standards or targets they were expected to make in math, English language arts or science proficiency, among other categories. Other schools that were rated with three stars or above and were considered adequate, superior or commendable managed to make larger gains, but generally these were middle or charter schools.
This year, Carson City had three one-star schools and four two-star schools among its 12 sites or programs evaluated.
The trend falls in line with the learning loss American students continued struggling with during the 2022-23 school year. Most of Nevada’s schools have dropped to the lower ratings and only a few have moved upward with the pandemic’s effects leaving their mark. Results show 29.3% of Nevada’s schools are now rated one star and 25.6% are two stars, including state public schools and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of educational services for CCSD, said there is more to know about what’s going on in the schools than what the ratings say about students’ proficiency other than the ratings. But as a result of COVID-19, educators at each site have had to retool their methods to help meet students where they are academically once schools closed in 2020 and instruction models changed.
“We think we haven’t come off our COVID teaching methods and we showed what we were successful in meeting the kids’ needs,” she said. “Every one of our schools have done a deep dive data-wise to say, ‘Hey, how can we tackle this?’ Hopefully, you’ll see that come as a result of this star rating system.”
Fuson said schools might add specific positions, if they’re able, such as interventionists or paraprofessionals, to target the specific root cause of their academic difficulties.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” she said. “If you need academic intervention, what does that very specific instruction look like?”
Medina said principals and vice principals are collaborating with each other to provide support after seeing each other’s scores to see how they can give assistance to the other sites.
Trustee Mike Walker said he wished the state would come up with a different manner of measuring educational success in the classroom, stating testing results and school attendance are only a few factors indicating how well a school is doing.
“These kids are working hard, they’re struggling to read and they misbehave and they hate school sometimes,” he said. “That’s why I push at every chance I get that we need a better formula for achievement.”