September 20, 2023 - 9:00 pm
The Clark County School District is much better at inflating grades than helping students learn.
The Nevada Department of Education recently released the results of its annual testing of third through eighth graders. Among district students in the 2022-23 school year, 39 percent tested proficient in English and 28.2 percent were proficient in math. Compared to the previous year, this was a slight decrease in reading proficiency, from 41.2 percent, and a small increase, from 26.4 percent, in math.
Among some student groups, the results were notably worse. Just 23.7 percent of Black students are proficient in English. In math, it’s 13.1 percent. Among Hispanic students, 32.2 percent are proficient in English and 20.8 percent in math.
These results are simultaneously depressing and unsurprising. They’re hard evidence that the district is failing a large majority of its nearly 300,000 students. Without a basic education, these students collectively face a lifetime of negative consequences. They’re less likely to graduate from high school. They’ll earn less money and die earlier. They’re more likely to be incarcerated and abuse drugs. And their children will one day enter the school system needing a great education to break this cycle of poverty.
If it stays on its current path, this district won’t be providing it. Its achievement numbers are worse than before the pandemic, but they’ve been terrible for decades.
That’s a failure of both local and state leaders. Superintendent Jesus Jara deserves credit for standing up to the Clark County Education Association’s illegal sickouts. But he’s implemented a host of disastrous policies. Topping the list are his decisions to implement dumbed-down grading standards and gut student discipline. Last fall, the district bragged that student grades were improving. These results show giving students higher grades for less work is a recipe for lower achievement.
State politicians deserve plenty of blame, too. For decades, they’ve tried to fix education by dumping more money into a broken system. They’ve funded class-size reduction for three decades without noticeable results. Twice in the last 20 years, politicians passed the largest tax increase in state history to fund education. In 2021, then-Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a mining tax increase for education. None of it has worked.
Instead, Gov. Joe Lombardo and the legislature just dumped another $2.6 billion into the education abyss. That won’t fix the problem. It didn’t even produce labor peace.
It’s obvious that the current education system is helplessly broken. Lawmakers should pass school choice to provide parents with the ability to escape.