Report: Nevada Schools Failing Our Kids

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If your third grader brought home a report card like this, he'd be shaking in his boots.

The report from a national education publication, Education Week, places Nevada schools 51st, dead last, with a grade of D in its Chance For Success Index which gauges the link between education and real life outcomes.

In terms of student achievement K-through 12, we're listed 36th with a D plus.

We are, however, according to the study, getting better faster. The third highest gains in 8th grade reading scores in the past decade, ninth highest gains in math.

"In previous years we just have been very low," says Washoe School Superintendent Pedro Martinez. "So it's going to be confusing. You'll see gains, but we have to remember we're coming off some very low years."

Martinez says Nevada schools have instituted a number of reforms in recent years and it will take time for all those changes to show up in these rankings.

There are already, however, some positive trends.

"Here in Washoe County we hit a record graduation rate of 72 percent last year. We have more kids than ever going to college, more kids than ever taking advanced course work. In fact the state as whole had one of the highest growth rates in advanced placement last year."

And it may make us feel better to know Washoe Schools are outperforming the state.

"Right now we are at 72 percent. The numbers from the state haven't come out, but based on 2012 data we're about 10 percent above the state."

The state gets its only good grades--B's--for equity in spending and achievement by a diverse student population and it gets its lowest grade for a subject that those who teach and run our schools can't do nothing about.

"We got an F for funding. We're going to continue to do the right thing, but the same time we have to recognize we are in a state with very low funding for education and that has ramifications."

There are little seen contributing reasons for Nevada's rankings. "It's transient population for instance has a hidden impact on our drop out rate, but Martinez says we shouldn't be looking for excuses.

These grades present some challenges for the state's schools, students, our government and, perhaps, all of us.

We should, he said, continue pushing for and expecting better results for our kids.