Nevada’s roster of underperforming schools is out and Clark County schools make up almost half the list.
The state Department of Education released both its “Shining Stars” and “Rising Stars” lists of schools on Thursday. The former are schools have shown strong academic results despite working with a large percentage of children living in poverty, while the latter are schools that could be subject to state intervention because of poor performance.
“One of Nevada’s key strategies under our approved Every Student Succeeds Act plan is to identify and improve our lowest-performing schools,” State Superintendent Steve Canavero said in a statement. “This work is critical to ensuring that all of our students have access to a high-quality education and will help put Nevada on a trajectory toward becoming the fastest improving state in the nation.”
Among other statewide interventions and programs, schools on the so-called Rising Stars list will be eligible for the controversial Achievement School District. The program could be used to remove an underperforming school from local control and place it under a state-authorized charter school
The schools on the list are in the lowest 5 percent of the state’s schools. They also are likely to receive one-star ratings when the state releases those rankings in December. For high schools, inclusion on the list means they also have a graduation rate below 67 percent.
The requirements for a high school to be considered for the Achievement School District are slightly different, requiring a graduation rate of less than 60 percent.
Clark County elementary schools account for 26 of the 50 elementary schools on the list and include schools that were on it last year, including Cambiero, Matt Kelly and Lowman elementaries in Las Vegas and Priest Elementary in North Las Vegas.
The list includes 20 middle schools, including nine in the Clark County School District. Schools that were also on the list last year include Bailey, Brinley, Mack and Monaco middle schools.
Nine of the 23 high schools are in Clark County. Repeaters on the list include Burk Horizon Southwest Sunset, Desert Pines and Odyssey Charter.
The district has identified and been working with low-performing schools even before the list came out, said Mike Barton, the district’s chief academic officer.
“Those schools that were on the list last year were watched carefully, monitored closely and were visited often by their associate superintendent,” he said. “We’re just going to have to do that again with some of the schools that remained on the list.”
Barton said the district was celebrating some of the schools that were on the underperforming list last year but were able to work hard enough to get off it this time. They were, however, replaced by schools that fell into the category after being rated satisfactory last year.
“Now the list is finalized, we’re pulling in principals tomorrow, talking to them again about the data,” he said.
Barton said he thinks the Shining Star schools, which include 27 Clark County schools, can serve as an example for the underperforming schools.
Achievement School District
The list of schools eligible for the Achievement School District declined from 93 last year to 24, with 15 of those in Clark.
The state will now take a deeper dive into the data for those schools, said Rebecca Feiden, the director of the Achievement School District.
“First and foremost, we’re looking across multiple years,” she said. “Even though the list is created as a snapshot in time, we’re looking for schools that are chronically underperforming. We look across multiple years and a number of data points.”
Under state statute, Feiden must present 20 percent of the schools for consideration to join the program to the state Board of Education by Dec. 1. The state board then must pick at least half of them to move further in the process.
The state board must also approve charter operators, who would then pair with the schools.
The program got off to a rocky start last year, in part because of pushback from schools on the list who were resistant to being taken over by a charter and in part because the state failed to find and approve enough charters to take part on the program.
Only two schools are in the Achievement School District program right now. Futuro Academy charter school opened as an option for students near Cambiero Elementary School, a school that was under consideration for inclusion in the program. But state officials didn’t force students to attend the charter school.
Democracy Prep took over at Agassi Prep, an existing charter school whose middle school was under consideration for conversion.
A third charter operator that was under consideration, Celerity, was eliminated from the program after a federal raid of its California headquarters prompted questions about its financial footing.