Clark County School District juniors and seniors who have passed their high school proficiency exams have cause to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.
Those who haven’t passed their tests will be green with envy.
Next Tuesday is free day for the juniors and seniors who have passed the state’s high-stakes exams required for graduation. Freshmen aren’t required to take the test and will also be off.
Sophomores and the juniors and seniors who have failed to make the grade on one or more of the math, science, reading and writing exams will have to report to school for testing.
Leslie Barrientos, 17, said she was envious of a friend who aced the exams last year.
"I was like, ‘What?’" said Barrientos, a junior at Southeast Career Technical Academy, 5710 Mountain Vista Drive, near Russell Road.
Math is the biggest hurdle for most students: 45.6 percent of sophomores passed the math proficiency on their first attempt last year. The first-time pass rate on last year’s reading proficiency was 77 percent. For science, it was 55.8 percent, and for writing, it was 86 percent.
About 20 percent of the senior class, 3,500 students, has not passed one or more of the proficiency tests. If they don’t pass next week, they can take the test again in May and July.
Sue Daellenbach, the district’s academic manager for assessment and accountability, thinks seniors this year are on track to doing as well or a little bit better than last year’s seniors, who had a pass rate of about 90 percent.
Nevada is one of 23 states that requires a proficiency exam for graduation.
The state test is one of the benchmarks used to determine whether individual schools and the district as a whole has made "adequate yearly progress" under the guidelines of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Under No Child Left Behind, schools are judged also on the test day attendance of juniors, 95 percent of whom must show up or else the school will not make "adequately yearly progress."
If they already passed the test as a sophomore, then they are counted as having attended, Daellenbach said.
Because of the high threshold, attendance is what keeps many schools from achieving "adequate yearly progress," officials said.
District officials had a news conference on Tuesday at the Southeast Career Technical Academy to urge families to take the tests seriously. Students should get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast before the tests, officials said. Practice exams are available online.
Jhone Ebert, assistant superintendent for curriculum, said students need to have a positive attitude.
"It’s not a negative thing," Ebert said of the exams. "It’s showing what you know."
Contact reporter James Haug at email@example.com or 702-374-7917TESTING HELP AVAILABLE
Nevada’s high school proficiency exams will be administered next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, in the Clark County School District. Those looking for extra help will find practice tests and tutorials online at supermathtutor.com, which has a math tutorial for the Nevada Proficiency Test; mathtest.ccsd.net, the district Web site; and rpdp.net, the Web site for the Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program, which provides resources for math, science, English and social studies.
Students also are encouraged to ask for help at their high schools.
Math tutoring is available at three public libraries: Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive near Deer Springs Drive; West Las Vegas Library, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd. near Martin Luther King Boulevard; and the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road near Maryland Parkway.
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