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Clark County school officials applaud star rating improvements

Updated September 16, 2019 - 5:56 pm

Clark County School District officials touted successes in the state’s new star ratings on Monday, celebrating its highest-performing schools and those that improved the most.

At the same time, they acknowledged that more improvement is needed to bring struggling schools in the nation’s fifth-largest public school system to an acceptable level of academic achievement.

The state’s accountability system factors in proficiency rates in English and math, academic growth, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism and other elements to generate a rating of one to five stars. You can look up your child’s CCSD school rating using the Review-Journal’s database.

About 11.2 percent, or 44 district schools, reached five stars in the ratings released late Sunday, while another 13.8 percent (54 schools) reached four stars. Officials also celebrated the 86 schools that improved by at least one star over last year’s results at an afternoon news conference.

The district’s career and technical academics, which have won a variety of national awards, continued to show success with five-star ratings across the board.

“We’re really proud of our classroom teachers and our building principals who are doing a phenomenal job in really starting to lay down some of the foundational systems in place,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Sisolak made a surprise visit to Triggs Elementary, which last week celebrated a jump from two to five stars.

“Nevada schools have seen their share of challenges over the years, but I’m so proud to see results that show we are taking positive steps in the right direction — and our teachers deserve a lot of credit,” Sisolak said in a statement.

The district still shows a strong need for improvement. While the total percentage of schools scoring three stars or higher inched up to nearly 51 percent, 51 percent of district schools were still included in one of three underperforming categories as designated by the state.

Roughly 24 percent (or 95 schools) also are labeled as in need of “comprehensive support or improvement.” These “CSI” schools fall into the bottom 5 percent of performance of all schools, have one star or have graduation rates below 67 percent.

Roughly 27 percent (105 schools ) are in need of “targeted support and improvement” or “additional targeted support and improvement,” indicating schools that have consistently underperforming subgroups of students based on race, socioeconomic background or other demographics.

Jara said using data would be key to helping those schools improve.

“Really for us as a system, we have been looking at the equity and access opportunity for our children,” he said.

“We’ll be able to pinpoint right into the assessment data, so then we can look at the deficiencies according to the standards,” Jara added.

The district’s five-year strategic plan, Focus 2024, sets ambitious goals for closing gaps in academic achievement and discipline disparities among different racial groups of students.

An update on the plan’s progress in the latter area last week showed some improvement, although it also showed that the district did not meet its goal for reducing the suspension and discretionary expulsion rate of African-American students — the group that tends to have the highest rate of such discipline.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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