Las Vegas Sun

March 29, 2015

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School District put on No Child Left Behind watch list

The Clark County School District has been placed on a watch list as more schools failed to show enough improvement in test scores, officials said Wednesday.

The School District fell short of making “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind two of the past three years. The district had made adequate progress in improving test scores last year, but failed to make progress in 2009.

Adequate yearly progress is a measure of school improvement under 2001’s No Child Left Behind. Public schools receiving federal funding must hit annual targets to bring students up to 100 percent academic proficiency in math and reading by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

This year, schools were supposed to reach 66 percent proficiency in math and 64 percent in reading.

Of the 363 schools in Clark County, 224 (61 percent) did not make adequate progress this year. The number of schools failing to show progress increased by nine from last year.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools have to demonstrate achievement in 45 categories, such as graduation rates, socioeconomic status and academic achievement among students broken down by ethnicity, special education status, limited English proficiency and those qualifying for free and reduced-price meals.

Failure to show improvement on any one of the categories results in not making “adequate yearly progress.” This all-or-nothing policy has become a source of frustration for educators, School Board members said.

District officials attributed its lack of adequate progress to higher testing standards in reading, which lowered test scores this year by up to 30 percentage points.

Adequate progress may become more elusive over the next two years, as the School District starts using a higher testing standard in math and a more accurate way to measure graduation rates, which might lower its rates by 15 percent or more.

As standards rise, more and more schools across the country may be classified as failing under No Child Left Behind. Pressure to meet standards has been blamed for high-profile cheating investigations in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Many education leaders — including Education Secretary Arne Duncan — have said meeting a 100 percent proficiency goal in math and reading by 2014 is unrealistic, calling for reforms to the law. Some states are beginning to ask for waivers to skirt the goal, pending the law’s reauthorization, and at least three states have vowed to just ignore meeting federal benchmarks.

This month, Nevada will implement a new standard to measure academic progress called the growth model, which will measure each student’s growth instead of focusing on an annual test score. Nevada joins 18 other states using the model, including Colorado, where Superintendent Dwight Jones helped spearhead the model’s development.

“We see the growth model as the wave of the future,” said Pedro Martinez, the deputy superintendent of instruction. “Annual Yearly Progress is a one-year measure, and it’s either you did it, or you didn’t. The growth model is a much more comprehensive measure.”

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  1. Makes sense. We are a very low tax state that devotes a large part of the little bit of taxes we collect to education. Result? We measure poorly compared to the other states in the union. Good teachers don't come here because we pay squat. Good teachers that grow up here leave for better pay and respect from the public. It would be nice if the Sun did a story on why we just don't care.

  2. William Good Points,
    I am a current Masters of Education student and I am one of those educators that will be leaving the state once my degree is complete. Several reasons lead up to this.

    1st Lack of Community Support for any type of educational institution.
    2nd Lack of respect by the local government for teachers in general.
    3rd Lack of Parental support for both teachers and students.

    The community as a whole cries more about taxes then a well educated populace that would end up paying more in taxes. The Government just wants to reduce salaries of teachers and take away benefits. While parents do not have the time nor patience to sit down and help their children learn. Yet all are quick to blame a teacher for the downfall of education. These accusations made against teachers are completely false and misdirected.A teacher is not the sole educator of a student. Without all four parts working to help students they will fail to succeed.

    So when a community only has 25% of the support parts in place to make a education successful, then it will fail to attract new families, businesses, and culture. This is the reality in which Las Vegas finds itself.

    Unless we as a society start to provide more engineers, mathematicians and doctors the US as a society will continue down it's path of a downward spiral. We no longer continue to strive to do the things that had made this country great. So please parents have your kids put down their video game controllers for an hour to read a book.

  3. actually, the comment about pay is not true. relative to many other districts teacher pay for nevada is roughly the same. look up pay scales in california districts (or anywhere else) and you will see salaries for similarly experienced and educated teachers within a few thousand dollars of each other.
    now the comment about respect from the public is quite accurate--not to mention respect from elected officials.
    the growth model is a much more realistic measurement and i hope it catches on.

  4. Attention future teachers, you know what teacher salaries are before you get your degrees and teaching credentials. So why do you always complain about the pay after you get hired?

  5. My children went to Green Valley High, with lots of AP students and a few National Merit Scholars.
    They have a large number of children in their program that caters to the mentally handicapped. Those kids are expected to pass the proficiency exam. Let's face it, most of those kids are never going to be able to pass that exam. They just don't have the mental ability to do so and no amount of punishing the school district is going to make it happen.
    Every year, Green Valley High was "in need of improvement". And guess why they got that designation!
    I am not sure what is happening now at Green Valley High, since my children no longer attend, but I could see why No Child Left Behind was stupid when my kids went there.
    The No Child Left Behind act is in NEED OF IMPROVEMENT. Not every child can be 100% efficient in some areas. It's unfortunate that we have handicapped children in our lives, but don't punish the school district or the children.

  6. Evidently, you get out of the system what you put in. This state is full of people who don't or can't take responsibility for anything. It's one party or the others fault. It's the teacher's fault. It's my ex's fault. It's the illegals fault. It's never MY fault. Try getting off your dead a** and do something to make a change in Nevada's future.

  7. Noindex (Thomas Delahunty), your attitude is exactly why bright, smart young people are not going into the educational field. We don't pay our teachers enough, I don't care who or what you compare them to, when you look at the hours they put in and the crap they have to put up with.

  8. ginger, many go into teaching for the benefits, retirement, vacation time etc. My wife was a teacher by the way so I know several. The pay is not great, but it's not bad either. I don't think many (a few maybe) go into teaching because it might be a noble thing to do.

    In my opinion, the reason we have such poor results is because the teachers union could care less about the kids. It's nearly impossible to fire bad teachers. Also since the Dept. of Education was created in the late 1970's our school money must be laundered through Washington D.C. first, which keeps a portion of it, then returns some back to the district but dictates what must be taught and how.

    Those two obstacles must be corrected if we are ever to see real school improvement. Or the teachers and administrators here could just cheat like a lot of other districts do.

  9. "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren."

    Albert Shanker
    Former President United Federation of Teachers

  10. I have a question that may provoke some thought? Have you looked at the teacher's in your childs schools. How many are younger than 30?, than 40? than 50? What happens when those teachers leave or retire? Where do the replacements come from? For all of you who think that teaching is so easy, why aren't you applying for teaching jobs? With unemployment the highest in the country, there are plenty of people looking for work. All it requires it a bachelors degree and student teaching.

  11. I don't think teachers complain about the salary as much as the changing of the deal they signed up for. Basically, the deal is you make a little bit now then get a pension and good health care. Now 10 years into my career, they freeze my step advancements, lower the pay with furlough, make me pay more and more into my retirement, while making me pay more and more into my health care.

    I signed a contract. The deal I signed up for I have no complaints about. I am making less and less every year I put into the system, not more and more like when I signed up for the deal.

    That is my complaint. Give me the deal I signed up for!

  12. Recently, I read in EdWeek, the the Federal wizard of Education, Arne Duncan, frustrated with No Child Left Behind, has offered a rigorous back door option, using College and Career education as way to get around NCLB. The article lacked details, otherwise I would gladly give them. But we all know that NCLB is a failure, and leaves children behind. The problem is, PARENTS simply allow policy to be made without resistance or input from them. Them are really NOT a part of the policy building puzzle, and you would think that they would be!

    Enter recent changes with CCSD, the new "Performance Zones," which presumeably will encourage, invite, maybe require student's parent/stakeholder involvement to increase those test scores.

    American public school teachers serve many roles during the course of their day. Anyone who comments, should spend a day or more in a classroom, with a teacher before saying a word. A teacher's work continues after school with grading papers, writing evaluations, supporting PTA activities and student body activities, engaging in communications, and professional development. Keep in mind, that these teachers cannot pick out their students, they get whoever walks through the door. Teachers spend a great deal of money out of their own pockets to make sure their students have what they need to succeed and compete towards a "world class education." They give more than 100% each day, because to do otherwise would be settling for less in return of expectations.

    Education in the United States of America is under the influence of corporate billionaires. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are creations of these corporate billionaires. Now, you should also know this: that the very wealthy, powerful, elite billionaires of the USA, are are unfairly influencing public education. To get the inside story on WHO and HOW American education is being controlled, try reading this Dissent article, Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools, by Joanne Barkan.

  13. Some of you people seem to think teachers are above criticism. They are not. Here are my personal experiences. When my wife worked at an elementary school for several several years in Southern California, I met several teachers who all had one thing in common (besides smoking pot) and that is, all they did was whine. They whined about the kids, the parents, the principal, the district even the damn crossing guard.

    Now these teachers were younger most in their 20's and early 30's, but I started to ask them if they are so unhappy why did they go into teaching and why don't they leave teaching? And the answers were always the same, the benefits, pay and vacation time. For the record my wife and I never smoked pot, and we didn't mind that they did, it was always at somebody else's house, but it was funny hearing them literally laughing about red ribbon week while hitting the bong.

    Also, my wife left elementary school and taught college for a few years before we relocated here to Las Vegas. She is no longer in the educational field, but she may go back to teaching college part time in the future.

    Now you folks can call me all the names you want but the experiences I just shared with you are facts.

  14. It was an average elementary school in a heavy spanish speaking neighborhood, not that it makes a difference.

    I'm 44 years old and I can vividly recall two of my elementary school teachers one junior high and three high school teachers who were very instrumenatl in my K-12 education. Those 6 teachers were wonderful, and I will always have nothing but praise for them. I wish all teachers were like them.

    My opinion of today's situation is it's a combination of bad parents, the teacher unions and the bureacrats in D.C. have all contributed to the decline in our education system.

  15. Love the wacky-jack phrase!

  16. Afternoon Nancy:

    Interesting article you posted.

  17. Noindex, Since you nor your wife teach here in Vegas, I'll forgive your ignorance about Unions in the state. No union protects bad teachers - they protect due process. Principals can't fire teachers, just because they don't like them, or THEY think the teacher is not serving the kids. They must have a reason, and DOCUMENT THE REASON. Many administrators "kick the can" and allow poor teachers to transfer schools, without following up on the disciplinary or remedial paperwork, thus "resetting the clock." Before June, Administrators could remove a poor teacher in as little as 18 months, providing they follow the procedures outlined in the CONTRACT (if it were so bad, the district should not have agreed?), meaning specifically pointing out the deficiencies, providing the remediation steps, providing mentoring and/or coaching, and documenting everything. If after the time, the teacher shows no improvement, then they could be dismissed. Now, courtesy of state law, it will take three years (that's 36 months, or DOUBLE the previous time, for those keeping score) to get rid of a poor teacher.

    Contrary to what most people are being lied about, there are very few long term "bad teachers." Most quit either because they are too lazy to deal with the required paperwork, and get tired of being written up, or because many are actually counseled OUT of the business by the very same UNION that some uninformed people claim protect their jobs. Perhaps if people who love criticizing teachers actually spent some time in the classroom DOING THE JOB (and not living it vicariously through a wife or family member), Maybe those of us who actually have done the job (and quite well, if I do say so myself) might value their opinion. But then again, If they actually did, then their attitude would not be so misguided..