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Partial student test scores show lack of proficiency in English, math

Months after systemic computer glitches hampered statewide student testing in spring, the Nevada Department of Education on Wednesday will release preliminary scores for the fraction of students who actually completed the standardized tests.

The partial scores, which represent only about 30 percent of all third- through eighth-graders in Nevada, show the majority of students who successfully finished one of the online tests lack proficiency in English and math.

The share of students who scored at or above proficient in English ranged from 41 percent in the third grade to 49 percent in the fifth grade.

In math, 46 percent of third-graders scored at or above proficient, although that performance dwindled to just 21 percent by eighth grade.

“Obviously this is a challenge we see starting in fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade and then it becomes very acute in eighth grade,” Steve Canavero, interim state superintendent of public instruction, said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Canavero, while acknowledging the poor results in middle school math, stressed the incomplete data released Wednesday reflect the performance of less than one in three students in Nevada.

For the first time last spring, the state converted its standardized testing system to a fully digital platform.

A rash of computer glitches prevented many students from even logging into the system, and in the Clark County School District, less than 5 percent of third- through eighth-graders completed either the English or math test.

The preliminary scores largely will reflect student performance in schools outside of Clark County. The district, which serves roughly 70 percent of the state’s student population, will receive scores for only 10,000 to 13,000 completed tests, Canavero said.

“The tests coming out of Clark County as completed are minimal, and it’s really through no fault of their own,” Canavero said.

“It’s certainly not a reason to bash Clark County,” he added. “They worked with us throughout this entire process to try to find ways to administer the assessment, and quite frankly, we continue to run into brick wall after brick wall.”

Considering the testing issues — which Canavero described as a “fiasco” — the state will not tie the incomplete scores to accountability ratings for schools or evaluation of teachers. And Canavero said he expects the U.S. Department of Education soon will decide whether to grant Nevada a waiver from a federal mandate that 95 percent of students participate in standardized testing.

The state recently settled with the vendor who provided the faulty system and already selected a new contractor to manage the testing season in the spring.

Contact Neal Morton at nmorton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton

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