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CCSD sees test score gains after returning to in-person classes

Clark County students made gains last school year on standardized tests in both English language arts and math.

The Nevada Department of Education released results Monday from the Smarter Balanced assessments, which are also used in a handful of other states. Third through eighth graders took the tests in the spring.

In total, 41.2 percent of Clark County School District students were proficient in English language arts — a 4.1 percentage point gain. And 26.4 percent were proficient in math — a 5.1 percentage point increase.

Students showed gains compared with the 2020-21 school year, when school district campuses operated under 100 percent distance education due to the COVID-19 pandemic until at least some in-person classes resumed that spring.

“Despite the traumas our students experienced because of the pandemic, they have continued to make gains despite the emotional and mental toll they endured,” Clark County School Board President Irene Cepeda said in a news release. “Through it all, our teachers, administrators, and support professionals continued educating our students to facilitate their rebound toward academic success and recovery.”

More than one-third of the school district’s campuses — 133 — increased index scores from 2019 to this year on the Nevada School Performance Framework statewide accountability system, the district said.

“Over the past year and a half, CCSD has focused on high-quality instruction as students returned to face-to-face learning, and the data shows positive results for those efforts,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said in the release. “While student scores rebounded over the last year, we still have more work to do to help students fully recover and we are exponentially accelerating our work to further improve outcomes.”

The district said that although there are indicators of academic improvement — with elementary schoolers making the quickest rebound, especially in math — “more work is needed to ensure all schools continue to see gains or increase their rates of progress.”

About two-thirds of the state’s public school students in kindergarten through 12th grades are in the Clark County School District. The district’s proficiency rates are below the statewide average.

Statewide, 43.7 percent of students were proficient in English language arts last school year — up 2.3 percentage points compared with the previous year. And 29.8 percent were proficient in math — a 3.5 percentage point increase.

“Additionally, proficiency also increased across all federally reported student groups in both ELA and math,” the state said in the news release.

That includes students who have disabilities, English learners, those experiencing economic hardships, Asian students, Black students, white students, Hispanic students, American Indian/Alaskan Native students, students identifying with two or more races and Pacific Islander students.

In a news release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said she’s pleased that statewide proficiency in English language arts and math have increased.

“This demonstrates that the tremendous efforts made by our educators are having a positive impact on student outcomes,” she said. “These results are moving in the right direction, and we need to invest and accelerate what is working.”

Results were mixed with Smarter Balanced science tests, though, that fifth and eighth graders — plus high schoolers — took last school year.

Statewide, the proficiency rate was nearly 20 percent in fifth grade — up about 1 percentage point — and 34 percent in eighth grade and nearly 21 percent in high school.

Eighth grade scores dropped by 0.39 percentage points, and high school scores dropped by 9 percentage points.

Students statewide experienced sharp drops in test scores in multiple subject areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 school year.

But due to federal waivers, the normal requirement of having at least 95 percent participation in Smarter Balanced testing didn’t apply. Participation rates in testing were low that year, with only about half of Clark County School District students participating.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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