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December 22, 2014

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education:

Students to take proficiency tests next week

Clark County sophomores are gearing up to take state tests next week that will show they are competent in reading, writing, math and science.

About 24,000 Clark County School District students will take the high school proficiency exam Tuesday and Wednesday as a requirement for graduation. In addition to completing 22.5 school credits, students need to pass these four tests – math, reading, science and writing – to receive a diploma.

“I do think students who are able to pass the proficiency test should be able to manage their typical domestic finances,” Superintendent Walt Rulffes said Tuesday at a press conference at the Southeast Career Technical Academy.

A high school diploma is considered a rite of passage -- one that requires some skill to achieve. With a global recession churning, proficient math skills seem to be key for surviving in the real world, educators said.

There are about 16,800 seniors in the school district and about 3,500 have yet to pass the test. Those seniors have two more chances to pass if they want to get their diploma in June.

Myra Leigh Alberto and Danielle Garcia, both seniors at SECTA, said the proficiency exam doesn’t dictate how successful a student is going to be after high school.

“I think a lot of it is personal initiative,” Myra said. “And there’s more to life than eighth-grade algebra,” Danielle said.

While both girls passed the test their sophomore year, they said they know some students perform well in class but get anxious about tests and score low.

Students also need to learn life skills from parents, said Sheila Moulton, School Board Trustee for District G.

“I put a lot of responsibilities on families,” she said. “Parents should involve their children in their budgeting, show them how to pay the bills, how much everything costs.

"Take them shopping. I’ve counseled a lot of families and I notice that if a parent manages their money well, then most children will too.”

Jennifer Peterson, K-12 mathematics and instructional technology director, said in addition to basic math courses, seniors at about 20 schools across the district can take a mathematics of personal finance class. She called the class “a real life math course.”

Rulffes said about 60 percent of the future jobs in Nevada will not require a four-year college degree, but they will require advance course work beyond high school, such as technical degrees or certificates.

School officials said the test is getting more rigorous, with the science portion added for those graduating in 2010 and beyond.

Myra and Danielle said the test was easy for them.

“It was all stuff I learned in middle school,” Myra said. “I didn’t see the point in taking it because I knew I would pass.”

That’s not true of every student.

Of the Clark County sophomores who took the test last year for the first time, 45.6 percent passed the math test; 77.3 percent passed reading; 55.8 percent passed science; 86.2 percent passed writing.

Freshmen are off Tuesday, along with all juniors and seniors who have already passed the exam, but 16,000 sophomores across the county will get their first crack at the exam next week.

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