Clark County school students challenged to make the grade achieved something rare last school year.
Those in grades required to take state standardized tests showed across-the-board improvement in math, reading and science.
Higher percentages of Clark County School District students tested at grade level or better in three core subjects in 2011-12 than they did the previous year, according to test results released Tuesday.
“Our community needs this very much. Our students need this very much,” said Clark County School Board member Erin Cranor, who represents one of the largest but lowest-performing school systems in the country. The district has about 308,000 students.
All Nevada public school students in grades three through eight are required to take criterion referenced tests in math and reading each school year. The tests measure student proficiency in basic subjects. Only grades five and eight are tested in science.
The district managed to increase its share of proficient students by
2 to 6 percentage points in reading and math over the previous year, but a great many still aren’t at grade level.
“These are not huge gains, but it’s of huge importance to know we’re heading up,” Cranor said.
Proficiency rates in math ranged from a low of 61 percent in eighth grade to a high of 73 percent in fourth grade. Sixth-graders made the biggest leap, climbing 5 percentage points to tie fourth- graders for the highest math proficiency rate of 73 percent.
In reading, eighth-graders posted the lowest proficiency rate:
48 percent. And fourth-graders again topped the list, with
70 percent of students at grade level. Fourth-graders also made the most improvement, jumping 6 percentage points.
As for science, 59 percent of fifth-graders and 49 percent of eighth-graders were proficient, compared with 52 percent and
47 percent the previous year, respectively.
Deputy Superintendent Pedro Martinez attributes the gains to one-on-one interventions with low-performing students, who were provided with after-school tutoring, Saturday programs and more to help them catch up.
Across-the-board gains are rare but don’t raise a red flag in this case, said Richard Vineyard, assistant director of assessment for the Nevada Department of Education. He said Clark County’s gains were a “modest” percentage point or two at most grade levels.
“We’ve been seeing steady improvements across Nevada,” he said. “There’s still a question of eighth- graders not being ready for next year.”
That concern is prevalent in Clark County, where the district has initiated summer tutoring programs for incoming freshman, half of whom simply aren’t ready for high school, Martinez said.
“We’re going to need an early start,” he said.
Though each grade level showed gains, less than half of district eighth-graders are proficient in reading and English. Only 61 percent can do grade-level math.
That’s a stark contrast to the lower grades. In fourth grade, 73 percent of students are proficient in math and
70 percent read at grade level.
But it’s still “all good news in terms of the direction we’re heading,” Cranor said.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.