Many School Statewide Need To Improve

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Follow-up work on a tentative list showing eight dangerous schools in Nevada reduced the count to zero, but educators said Friday at least 168 schools in the state are in need of improvement.

An evaluation based on new federal standards showed most of the schools needing improvement made the list this year. Twenty-two others had flunked an accountability review for two or more years.

The total of 168 schools represents about 30 percent of Nevada's 548 elementary and secondary schools. But another 104 are still being reviewed and many of them could end up on the "watch list," educators said.

State schools chief Jack McLaughlin said he believes Nevada is "in the middle of the pack or lower" when compared with other states, although he hasn't seen a national average.

About two-thirds of the schools in California and Pennsylvania are on similar "watch lists" and about 90 percent of Florida's schools are listed as needing improvement, McLaughlin and other state Department of Education officials added.

Regarding the "persistently dangerous" designations that resulted from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, Department of Education consultant Michael Fitzgerald said Nevada's tentative list was based on incomplete data.

Crime incidents from only one school year were used at first. But federal education officials then called for a review of three consecutive years, and that analysis resulted in no Nevada schools qualifying for the "dangerous" designation.

In discussing the separate list of schools needing improvement, McLaughlin said only three failed in all three of the categories used to rank them: achievement in course work, student participation in testing and school-wide indicators such as graduation rates.

Those schools included Gibson and Martin middle schools and Valley High in the Las Vegas area.

One other school, the Washoe High alternative school, failed to meet the course work achievement criteria and the graduation rate criteria.

The three Las Vegas-area schools are among 82 schools in Clark County placed on the new "watch list" for not meeting all the goals outlined in the No Child Left Behind law. Washoe High is among 24 Reno-area schools on the list.

"What you have here is a transition from the old laws to the new laws," McLaughlin said, adding that falling short in just one of 37 categories was enough to get on the list.

School counts elsewhere in Nevada include: Carson City, seven; Churchill, four; Douglas, four; Elko, six; Esmeralda, two; Humboldt, one; Lyon, five; Mineral, one; Nye, four; Pershing, one; White Pine, one.