State Department of Education officials issued a report card Monday on Nevada's 568 public elementary and secondary schools - and a fifth of them got low marks.
State schools chief Keith Rheault said the designations were based on criteria imposed by the federal No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2001 and by 2003 state laws designed to bring the schools into line with the federal requirements.
"The results actually are better than what I was anticipating," Rheault said, adding that he won't know how Nevada compares with other states until he sees more reports on those states.
State and federal laws require schools to move all their students to "proficient" or better performance levels by the 2013-14 school year.
School performance is based on test scores of various student groups. If one of the subgroups doesn't meet the goals, the entire school is listed as not having made adequate yearly progress, Rheault said.
The 122 Nevada schools listed as "in need of improvement" include only two - Manse and Amargosa elementary schools in Nye County - that have had the low ranking for three years. Seventeen other elementary or middle schools are in their second year, and the rest are on the list for the first time.
Another 103 schools are on a "watch list," a step up from "in need of improvement." The report also shows a dozen public schools with "exemplary" ratings, and 69 others with "high achieving" ratings.
Among the "exemplary" schools were Incline Middle and Incline High schools in Washoe County; and Garrett and Lyon middle schools and Advanced Technologies Academy in Clark County.
If a school doesn't made adequate yearly progress for one year, it's placed on the "watch list." If that progress isn't achieved for two or more consecutive years in math or English, the "improvement needed" label attaches.
To get off that list, a school has to make adequate yearly progress for two years in a row. If the low ranking persists for three or more years, remedial efforts can include the state's involvement in a school's management.
Rheault said he was surprised to see the drop in schools on the "watch list" this year compared with last year. In 2003, he said nearly twice as many schools had that classification.
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