School ratings ‘paused’ |

School ratings ‘paused’

Christine Kuklica

The Nevada Department of Education’s latest state accountability report and school rating system for 2015 show all of Churchill County schools remained the same.

The annual report provides parents and community members with a valuable overview of public school performance in Nevada.

Lahontan and E. C. Best elementary schools remained steady at two stars, while Churchill County High School and Numa Elementary School remained at a three-star ranking, while Churchill County Middle School kept pace with four stars. Oasis Academy also had its rating rolled over from last year, which was a five star.

According to NDE, this year’s school-star ratings are carried over from the 2013-2014 school year, and the Nevada School Performance Framework reports for each school do not include state assessment data from the 2014-2015 school year. It is part of the state’s transition plan as the NDE implements new assessments and continues to improve the accountability system that rates each school. State assessment results are a large component of the NSPF’s school rating system, which measures both achievement and growth.

Nevada had to request approval of a one-year “pause” on school ratings from the U.S. Department of Education. On Dec. 15, 2014, though, the DOE offered the accountability pause option to all states that were transitioning to new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards in the 2014-15 school year.

Churchill County School District Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said she believes the “pause” was the right thing to do for schools transitioning to new assessments.

“With the new assessment and the complications that followed it was a fair call,” she said. “I was concerned with the whole testing situation that the scores may not be as reliable as they should be.”

Oasis Principal Melissa Mackedon said she also understands why the state opted for the pause. She said although she understands the pause, she is disappointed by the action.

“What I’m disappointed about is that Oasis has doubled in size and we don’t have the valuable, reliable data that we need to make sure the students are where they need to be and progressing the way they should,” she said. “Had we not expanded as much as we did, I would have been more ok with the pause. But we need those test to see where are new students are at on a state level testing field.”

NDE said during the shift, the agency will work with schools and districts to review results of local assessments in order to meet the requirements of accountability for the new legislative initiatives.

Sheldon said the district is working on upgrades to the curriculum. She said there hasn’t been a curriculum upgrade in sometime, so the adoption of one will take some work before it is in place.

“We are going to form a committee that will be in charge of upgrading curriculum,” she said. “We want to make sure that all of the students use the same strategy and materials. There are a lot of pieces that need be put in place but it will be done.”

Sheldon said it might take sometime before schools see their school ratings increase. She said it could take a year to three years to see improvements.

“Successfully measuring school performance is an important part of ensuring our students are prepared for the future,” said Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero. “We need accountability measures to show whether or not we are on track, but we must not rush to rate schools when this planned transition in assessments does not yield our most valued asset of student growth in academic achievement. Although school ratings are paused this year, my staff will continue to provide support and interventions to the schools that continue to need it most. Parents should engage with their child’s school to learn as much as they can about student achievement at the school. State assessment results are but one measure of performance, and most schools administer interim assessments throughout the year.”