The state's new test schedule could hurt Nevada's year-round campuses since students will have less time to prepare, school officials said.
"We're getting six weeks less instructional time than the nine-month schools have gotten," said Principal Scott Ober at Ober Elementary School in Clark County. "I don't see how that can't hurt us."
From March 15 to April 15, students in grades three, five and eight will be taking criterion-referenced tests that measure what they have learned against what they are required to know under state standards.
This is the first year the tests, known as CRTs, will be used to determine if each school is making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Since many year-round students start the school year later than their nine-month counterparts, they'll be taking the tests after having spent much less time in the classroom.
Schools with a poor showing on the CRTs will face placement on the state's watch list of low-performing schools.
If the watch list schools do not clear all federal standards for a second consecutive year, they will join the list of schools deemed inadequate. Any inadequate school that has a high poverty index and receives federal Title 1 funds is required to offer parents a chance to transfer their child to a higher performing campus.
This is not the first year Nevada students have taken the CRTs. In the past, all schools were required to administer the tests on the 165th day of instruction, meaning those tested had put in equal amounts of time in the classroom.
But in the last legislative session when lawmakers changed school accountability requirements, the emphasis on equal instructional time was not carried over.
"It is a problem that we're aware of, and we're looking into it as best we can," said Paul LaMarca, director of assessments and program accountability for the Nevada Department of Education.
Most of Nevada's year-round schools are in Clark County. Of the district's 179 elementary schools, 72 follow a year-round calendar.
Clark County schools Superintendent Carlos Garcia said one possibility is having all schools give the CRTs on the 120th day of instruction.
"This wasn't done intentionally," Garcia said. "We're hoping this can be rectified. This is grossly unfair to the year-round schools, and we aren't happy with it."