Five schools still short | NevadaAppeal.com

Five schools still short

Joanna Welch, Appeal Staff Writer

Five of Nevada’s elementary schools down from eight remain designated as inadequate and in need of improvement based on revised TerraNova scores.

The test scores were recently altered when CTB/McGraw-Hill, the firm hired to score and report the results of the nationwide test, reported an error when students’ individual test scores were translated to a national ranking.

“It was not an error in the scoring, but when the scores were translated into national percentages, that’s where the mistake occurred,” said Bill Jordan, CTB/McGraw-Hill’s director of media relations. “A little less than 3 percent of the data was bad and it skewed the (national) table.”

Nine states were notified about the the error.

Five of the elementary schools were in Clark County School District, two were in Washoe County School District and one was in Mineral County School District.

TerraNova tests fourth-, eighth- and tenth-grade students in four subjects: reading, language arts, mathematics and science.

State law requires that schools receive remediation money if 40 percent of students score in the bottom quartile in all four subjects, said Bill Arensdorf, a member of the State Department of Education’s Finance and Accountability Team.

The department distributed about $1 million to the eight schools to offer teacher training and to pay for remediation programs in the four subjects.

When the scores were revised, the two Washoe County Schools -Duncan and Smithridge elementary schools -were removed from the list of failing schools because fewer than 40 percent of students were in the lowest quartile in the science portion of the exam.

Since the eight schools had adopted programs and trained teachers prior to the errors being discovered, they did not have to return the money, Arensdorf said.

“We left the money there. In April, they were designated. They applied and by June they had programs in place. They were well under way in implementing programs when we found out in September,” he said.

Despite the improved scores, those three schools still need help because they had poor scores in three of the four subjects, Arensdorf said.

“They are schools that need help,” he said. “They are still doing poorly in three of their core subjects, but the improved science score was enough to get them out.”

The state board hired CTB/McGraw-Hill two years ago. The company received $559,252 in the last school year.

The firm was hired by the State Board of Education because its test is aligned with Nevada’s new academic standards. The firm has one year left in its contract.

“This is very serious. We feel they made a big mistake in not giving us accurate information last April,” Arensdorf said. “It’s a reputable company which made a mistake and mistakes happen.”