Nevada Ranks Low In Graduation Rates

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Nevada has the nation's second-worst rate of young adults who haven't graduated from high school, and a collaborative effort has been started to improve the state's standing.

Figures from the Census Bureau for 1998-2000 show 59,389 people in Nevada between the ages of 18 and 24 who weren't currently enrolled in school and lacked high school diplomas. That amounts to about 22 percent of the population in that age group. Only Arizona had a worse figure, 26.5 percent. The top state was Maine with 5.5 percent.

Former Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa told the state Board of Examiners on Tuesday that a "full-court press" is needed to improve Nevada's figure because more jobs will require technical or engineering training.

Del Papa is chairwoman of an oversight committee trying to get business, labor and education to work together to lower that number. Its goal is to reduce it by 10 percent per year.

Vicki D. Newell, the director of the project called "Give Yourself The Edge," said financial contributions are needed to expand adult education programs to serve a growing number of citizens.

Del Papa said Nevada's congressional delegation should be approached to get a federal grant for a demonstration project to work in Nevada.

The oversight committee wants to see business help with transportation or child-care costs for employees who attend adult high school or GED classes. And employees should receive paid time to attend the classes or have alternate work schedules arranged for them, the committee said.

State schools chief Jack McLaughlin said he and Gov. Kenny Guinn became concerned when the Census Bureau released its figures.

McLaughlin said Guinn, when he was superintendent of the Clark County School District in the 1960s, recognized the problem even then. Guinn started some classes at 4 p.m. so that young adults could go to school after working at a job.