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March 31, 2015

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Nevada’s high school graduation rate lowest among states


Leila Navidi

Students listen to speeches during the Mojave High School commencement ceremony at the Orleans Arena on Friday, June 15, 2012.

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 | 6:01 p.m.

Nevada has the lowest high school graduation rate of any state in the nation, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Education Department.

The federal government released preliminary four-year graduation rate data for 47 states, Washington, D.C., and the Bureau of Indian Education for the 2010-11 school year. Three states — Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma — and Puerto Rico were not included in the list because they received extensions to file their graduation data.

Nevada posted a 62 percent graduation rate during the 2010-11 school year. The Silver State’s graduation rate was the lowest of any state but slightly better than Washington, D.C., (59 percent) and students on Native American reservations (61 percent).

The federal data also illuminates striking achievement gaps among Nevada students of different backgrounds.

White and Asian students had higher graduation rates than black and Hispanic students, sometimes by a margin of 30 percentage points.

In fact, Nevada had the second-largest disparity in graduation rates between black and white students in the country (28 percentage point gap), surpassed only by Minnesota (35 percentage point gap).

Here are the graduation rates for different student subgroups in Nevada:

• Alaska Native/Native American: 52 percent

• Asian/Pacific Islander: 74 percent

• Black: 43 percent

• Hispanic: 53 percent

• Multiracial: 80 percent

• White, non-Hispanic: 71 percent

• Children with disabilities: 23 percent

• Limited English-proficient students: 29 percent

• Economically disadvantaged students: 53 percent

Iowa had the best graduation rate (88 percent); followed by Vermont and Wisconsin (87 percent); then Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas (86 percent).

Joining Nevada at the bottom of the rankings were Alaska and Oregon (68 percent), Georgia (67 percent) and New Mexico (63 percent).

For the first time, the survey used a common method of calculating graduation rates. Previously, states used different methods to determine graduation rates, which made it difficult to make accurate state-by-state comparisons.

The federal government now requires that states use the “cohort” graduation rate calculation, which tracks how many first-time ninth-graders finish high school in four years with a standard diploma.

Previously, many states, including Nevada, used less accurate calculations that didn’t factor in students who transferred or dropped out of school.

“By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “Ultimately, these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career ready.”

Nevada Superintendent Jim Guthrie commended the federal government for moving toward a more uniform and rigorous method of calculating the graduation rate. Nevada was one of 26 states that saw a drop in its graduation rate as a result of moving to the "cohort" calculation.

"You can't solve your problems if you don't know what they are," said Guthrie, who is seven months into his new position. "We need accurate information, and more of it. I'm glad to have this because now we can better address our problems."

Nevada's low graduation rate can be explained by the state's high dropout rate. Every 11 minutes of every school day, a student drops out of a Nevada school, Guthrie said.

In fact, Clark County — which educates the vast majority of Nevada's children — was named a dropout epicenter last year by Education Week.

This dual problem of low graduation and high dropout rates stems from a lack of motivation by students, Guthrie said.

"For too long, students could drop out and get a high-paying, low-skilled job," Guthrie said, referring to the oft-mentioned well-paid casino parking valet or dealer. "But those low-skilled, high-paying jobs are being eroded."

To remain in the middle class in this new global information economy, Nevada's youths must graduate high school and pursue post-secondary opportunities, Guthrie said.

"The way to a productive life is to stay in school," he said. "Youngsters in Las Vegas don't realize they're competing globally against youngsters in Shanghai."

To reach the average graduation rate of 80 percent nationally, Nevada must graduate an additional 6,000 students each year, Guthrie said. That's a tall order, but there are several state and local efforts aimed at boosting the number of graduates, he added.

Guthrie is encouraging some 6,000 high school teachers in the state to "adopt" a struggling student and mentor them toward graduation.

The state also is looking at expanding the Jobs for America's Graduates program, currently at eight Nevada high schools. For about $70,000 a year per high school, the program allows a special counselor to work with about 40 at-risk students to help them graduate high school with a job.

In Clark County last year, Superintendent Dwight Jones launched a mentoring program, held several community walks and door-to-door home visits to dissuade students considering dropping out of school. Those efforts have continued this year.

"For too long, education in Nevada has been a stepchild," Guthrie said. "It's time to change that."

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  1. And this is even given the fact that Las Vegas allows its students to replace most of the 3 RRRs with Mariachi classes.
    What do you expect from a county with spelling mistakes on their diplomas?

  2. This is 100% the parents' fault. Period. IF a student drops out of school, that is the parents' fault. Period.

  3. Close to 6 of 10 African Americans are dropping out of high school!!! The overall rate is stinko but this one just spells doom. The inner city population just doesn't get it and likely never will. The first step out of poverty is EDUCATION. Where do people think they are going with not so much as a high school degree? I'll tell ya.. Poverty, food stamps, section 8 and prison.

    Bill Cosby is right. Better get the act together. It only seems to be getting worse. The white rates are atrocious, the African American rates are an utter failure.

    6 of 10 dropping out in Nevada and no one sees this as a crisis above everything else we are trying to accomplish in this state. Disgusting.

  4. Multi-racial highest grad rate. Makes sense to me. Let's stop the teach-speak about enhancing cultural diversity and FOCUS on the BASICS--the reading, writing, arithmetic. Once they figure that out, we can consider tenure again.

  5. You get no social interaction from homeschooling. There is little to no interaction with their peers. Theres no problem solving. You have kids constantly under their parents thumb.

    You can't isolate kids like that and expect them to acquire interaction skills, social skills.

  6. truthserum: The 8 million already get free K-12, in-state tuition and grants for higher ed and FREE WELFARE, more if they chuck out an anchor baby or two. Check it out. The feds encourage and insist that illegals get benies. They even have web sites and negotiate with the Mexican government to give illegals food stamps BEFORE they get here.

  7. People give me a hard time for working 2 jobs to sent my 3 kids through Bishop Gorman. They have a 97% College Rate. All three in College on Full Rides. It is the parents fault for not pushing their kids to receive the best free gift ever. EDUCATION. The worse part is that these kids become parents before adulthood. The cycle will only continue.

  8. The sad reality is the gap between whites/Asian v. Hispanics/Blacks is just going to get worse as Hispanics and Blacks have higher birth rates and single family homes while white/Asian parents put all their resources into one or two kids.

  9. What a disgrace. Parents should be held responsible as well as teachers. No excuse can mitigate this failure. Nevada should start issuing free birth control and re-deploy it's teachers to a state that actually cares about education. This can't bode well for the black community or the superintendent. Unbelievable! We're gonna need more janitorial positions to open up!

  10. Since this is such an important topic, is there any way for us to get this broken down by county?

  11. "We're gonna need more janitorial positions to open up"
    They will not even be getting those jobs. Some of those jobs require some basic skills and knowledge. These knuckleheads are dropping out without the ability to fill out a freaking employment application. They can't read, they can't write. How are they supposed to order janitorial supplies when they can't add 3 + 3?

    It's just an absolute disgrace. Forget about the economy. Forget about bringing high tech here. Forget about supporting business people. This town better find a way to reverse these numbers. Damn ship is sinking in the black community.

  12. The only people that can and will be held responsible for failing to provide the resources students need to succeed, both financial and socially, will be the individual student and every person in our entire society.

  13. Sadly, we live in a city/state where our major industries have no interest in having an educated workforce. As long as our primary employers are low tech service industry (casino) or mining jobs our businesses have no incentive to promote education in this state.

  14. I wonder if having a math proficiency test that is the third hardest in the nation has anything to do with this? Is there any particular reason Nevada's test has to have this much rigor? No funding plus hardest test in nation seems to result in no one graduating. In particular, minority students not graduating.

  15. Exporting our graduates. It is a well known fact that Vegas students reach a certain point in their Nevada High School career and they decide to stay in Nevada or move. When/if they do not pass the Math Proficiency which is actually a reading-the-math-problem test . . . they may choose to move to live with relatives out-of-state to be able to graduate. Nevada students are graduating. . . in other states.

  16. Is there any reason that Nevada is one of the ONLY states that does not provide funding for English Language Learners? We have large numbers of students that self-identify as needing additional support - yet Nevada does not provide any financial support to them. All research shows that Language Learners do well - but require extra time and attention to develop academic language. We are not helping these students who are a large percentage of the Vegas school population.

  17. Poverty. All research has shown that poverty is the leading factor in students being unable to achieve academically. At a time, when Vegas leads the state and the nation in unemployment and recession - we have done nothing but cut, cut, cut and scream for reform and testing. Really? Use your head. That's #crazytown. Students who are hungry are in trouble. Students without homes are in trouble. MANY of our students are in trouble.

  18. AND let's discuss the Vegas money issue. Vegas pays the bills. We provide money to the education general fund. Students in other parts of the state are well funded. 50% of the general fund is used on 25% of the students - in rural /Northern Nevada areas of the state. Some of these areas are also currently awash in mining proceeds money. These parts of the state will never vote to raise revenue for schools - because their schools don't need revenue. They are subsidized by Vegas and mining. Vegas money needs to stay in Vegas. We need it for our children. The North is already taking care of their own - we need to do the same.

  19. Vegas has the most diversity of any part of the state. We are a large urban area struggling to meet the needs of 75% of the students in the state with less money than we pay to the fund. 75% of the Vegas students getting back 50% of the money. We pay significantly more than is returned to us. We are making due with less. Yet we have more students in poverty. More students who could benefit from Language Learning Support. More homeless students. We have more needs, less money, less support, and the north screaming at Vegas to stay within its budget.

    The bottom line: It's racism. How can it be anything else? How do you explain such devastating numbers? With all the money diverted elsewhere - to less diverse parts of the state? The data shows we are failing our youth - particularly our minority youth. And more particularly our minority students in Vegas. How can we look at these numbers and think this is OK?

    To add insult to injury, Child Protective Services and other support systems for children in Vegas were almost demolished during the last legislative session. Wrap-a-round services devastated. The schools are the last and only support system for most students - and it's also a weapon, a continuous testing loop that labels already struggling students as failures - stuffed into classrooms where they will never receive any individual attention because of class size, without technology or supplies or the things they need to learn in the 21st century.

    We are killing our public schools. We are testing our kids until they don't graduate. We are failing our babies. It is a sin and a crime. There is blood on the hands of the evil doers in control of this fiasco and who continue in this path. It's a travesty. There are powerful people who are in control of driving this racist and devastating loop and it's no one in the classroom working directly with students. This is some serious mismanagement at the highest levels. SERIOUS MISMANAGEMENT.

    They can point the finger at every school teacher they see -- it's not going to change the fact that the powerful people in high office and in control have made terrible and devastating and crushing decisions to destroy the students in Vegas. Not one teacher I know - thinks we are headed in the right direction. This is pure #crazytown.

    We can NOT continue on this testing frenzy random reform path. It's damaging almost everyone I know.

  20. The only thing missing from this article is a couple of burning questions:

    Uh, Governor Sandoval, what's your take on all this?

    Didn't you run as one of them "education-kids come first" kind of politicians?

  21. Bottom line: If you plan on raising a family in Nevada, and you want your children to be educated, you better go somewhere else cause it ain't gonna happen here. In this case, past performance is an indication of future results.

  22. "No funding plus hardest test in nation seems to result in no one graduating. In particular, minority students not graduating."

    @first-grade-teacher....what does the math test have to do with minority students?? Aren't they taught in the same class as everyone else? Are you saying they are less likely to learn math? Or are you saying the parents are less likely to be involved in their education? Or their math teachers are horrible? Has to be one of the three. Which one?

  23. When we get serious about education we will drop electives and focus on essentials, including learning to read and write-compose, history, mathematics, sciences, economics-financial management, and citizenship-politics.

    That means instead of sports programs we have an exercise period, or a few brief periods in between classes, of guided exercise of a basic nature which can be carried on in normal life.

    We can save money from sports programs and facilities and funnel it back into providing the funds to the mandatory classes.

    We also need mentoring programs that offer opportunities for students who are excelling to mentor students who are not.

    This could reflect on the record of the mentor in a very positive way, by some validation of the success of their effort. It might offer some benefit in college acceptance.

    In this way, students having problems wouldn't be limited by the shortcoming of their parents, maybe for all adults.

    The learning structure needs to be more flexible than a linear thinking process. Many students have a global thinking process, and the linear system can trample over them and leave them lost, some giving up on their education because they are left too far behind.

    That doesn't remove responsibility of parents and community to encourage and expect the children to achieve the most they can to learn and graduate.

    As communities, we can support extracurricular sports through the Parks and Recreation Depts, with sponsorship by business.

    We should also strongly support public arts programs that include extracurricular learning in all forms of arts, in partnership with centers of local arts.

    We also need to begin an early assessment of the young as to their vocational abilities, interests, skills and talents that identifies both their needs and that of realistic future employment opportunities. Perhaps this would help to guide them into certain studies that would actually benefit them and society.

    Perhaps there is a point in which vocational education and training needs to be available to students who want to work in skilled labor jobs. We should not try to force a square peg into a round hole. Doing what people can feel they can contribute and have talent for is affirming and more likely to offer personal satisfaction. This can be aided by business, providing we expand beyond hotel-casinos.

    Perhaps their needs to be some incentive for the parents, or parenting classes.

    As far as home schooling goes, this needs to be examined for the benefits and deficiencies. Also, the home school teacher needs to be more than a parental mentor/tutor of varying quality.

    The issue raised about socialization is a viable concern.

    All of this is an investment in the future of the children, our communities and our nation.

  24. NO responsible parent considering relocation to Las Vegas would consider moving their family to a state with such a horrendous educational system.

    What does this say for the potential to grow our economy?

    I agree with labeling this SERIOUS MISMANAGEMENT.

  25. post I've read on the lvsun comments sections. What ever happened to shop class? There is none. Now you can take "Forensics". What a shame.

  26. Thanks Brian.

    Skilled jobs are needed as well as others, and also can lead to an increased number of small businesses by those with skills that relate to services, such as auto repair, building, catering, etc.

    We can benefit the community by recognizing individual interests and talents and preparing them just as we do with those who want higher education in other fields.

    Many skilled workers need current technology in their work, so it requires a different focus on needs. It doesn't mean they lack interest. What they lack is opportunity to follow the vocations they are interested in and have talent for.

    They still need a fundamental knowledge of the other essentials of education, but perhaps focused at some point on their vocational interests.

    A good community needs all forms of services to be successful.

    There is something else that needs to be included in the educational process for all...

    Learning morality and ethics, including integrity. This could be interwoven in all the essential areas of study as the educational process moves throughout a students studies.

  27. Angie, you provide alot of interesting information that should be heeded. Thank you.

  28. "Students in poverty". Look, there's little doubt poverty plays a roll in this fiasco but there are some very troubling aspects to poverty that have to be addressed. I was watching the news last week featuring a black couple (they looked about 20) getting a free turkey from some local charity. The girl is holding an infant!!! Why are people continuing to have babies when they cannot even support themselves??!! This was a "feel good" story as presented. I found nothing "feel good" about it. It's 2 irresponsible people who cannot even feed themselves bringing a baby into that situation.

    And the cycle continues. We cannot keep asking others to look after after the branches and leaves. Eventually we need to find a way to kill the tree. STOP bringing babies into poverty. That is what we shoud be looking to solve. We are going to have to address the "root" problems and not the "resulting" problems in order to right this ship called education and parenting.

    Everyone just goes about their business as we have graduation rates of 43% in the minority community. 43%!! I really weep for the future if this is the trend.

  29. Nevada is certainly a State of Extremes. Always near the bottom in the "Best Of" Polls and near the Top in the "Worst Of" Polls. Now that the word is out and all fingers point to the Incompetence of our elected officials, many native estudents see little opportunity in our land of Call Centers, Warehouses and Service Sector Jobs.

    The older generation in Las Vegas continually looses their children to Highly Taxed California with a superior University, Medical and Diversified Job Opportunities Systems.

  30. One of my children attended a magnet school and the other a reasonably decent high school here in Vegas. Both received decent educations.The youngest who was in a magnet culinary program has gone on to a prestigious college on a generous scholarship. Both sons did graduate.

    We need to focus on what works, and the magnet schools / technical academies seem to be doing it right.

    I also know a young man who did not receive a diploma because he was two questions short of passing his proficiency test. He took his GED in another state and passed.

  31. If you need to blame something/someone, put the blame where it squarely belongs. Blame the State House.

  32. If only we had a lottery.......hmmm....hmmmm.....hmmm...hmm..we could fund schooling.

  33. Y'all could take the optimistic view that the students left behind are getting a better education with the deadwood "self-deporting". Quite frankly my 3rd/4th year Automotive Technology classes were great....low numbers, motivated students, absence of slackers and goofballs, etc.

  34. Nevada's graduation rate is the lowest, but its business climate is among the best. Go figure.

  35. pathetic. that's why mediocrity and unintelligence are so prevalent and accepted in NV.

  36. My question is what the heck are these drop outs doing? The vast majority of them must be in jail or on welfare. There aren't that many manual labor jobs out there.

  37. How embarrassing!

  38. I am proud of my 2 Bishop Gorman graduates who also got free rides to college and are now productive members of society ......who also earn great incomes. No amount of money will fix this problem; only respect and discipline.

  39. Everyone blames parents as if they aren't parents and teachers themselves. Why is that when it comes time to raise ANY type of taxes for education the proposals get shot down. No politician is willing to risk their political career to raise taxes for education reform without community support.

    Henderson libraries are closing because no one wanted their property taxes raised. What city closes libraries nowadays? It just doesn't happen if the community cares enough to speak up and understands the greater good.

    It's as if we all know taxes need to be raised but no one will do anything. We magically expect graduation rates to rise with no sacrifice from the community. If we as a community want it bad enough we'll make a change. Until then it's business as usual. This isn't news.

  40. After reading the article I don't think that the comparisons are, lets say fair. Why? Well first off lets look at Vermont. Great graduation rate but how does thier highschool demographic compare to Nevada? Do they have as many children that cannot speak English like we have here? How's thier economy? Do they have un-employment as high as ours. I'm defending our numbers, not that they are good, but because our teachers deal with a whole different problem when trying to communicate with the kids as they do in Vermont.
    One thing that was a bit of a surprise was the percentage of graduates that come from multi=racial families. This may be a starting point for us to investigate.
    One last note, my two kids graduated from Clark County Schools, got scholarships at Chapman University in Orange Cal. I don't feel its the teachers or districts fault as much as its the parents that don't take enough interest in thier children.
    Something that may be of consideration is if a child cannot speak English, then they should be taught, and held back say a year so that they can better function in the school system. Just a thought.

  41. @chuck
    Again I ask, what on earth does "cannot speak English" have to do with a black graduation rate of 43%? Last time I checked their primary language is English, no? You can't pin this on a language issue.

    The overall numbers for Nevada are pathetic

    The problem I would have putting my kids in this school system has nothing to do with the teachers. The problem is my kids but are sitting in classrooms where close to 50% of those kids don't care about their education and cause disruptions. You want your kid surrounded by those who are striving, trying to do better. It gives them a push to do better. Surrounding your kids with slackers puts your kid at a disadvantage and I don't care how much a parent involves himself. He's not in the classroom.

  42. @Tom, I wasn't spinning anything, what I was pointing out was the study was done with different local population demographics language barriers are just an example.
    Agreed on the comment about having your kids in an enviroment where there is disruption. When my kids were in school they went to magnates. This put them into classrooms that had kids that learned at a faster pace. This brings up my point about language barriors. If a child is held back a year so they can learn the language and then be more able to sit in the classroom and learn instead of struggle, then I suggested giving them the extra time.

  43. We spend enough, more than enough. What we need is change and commitment from the school district and all SD employees. If a teacher can't teach basics in elementary school, s/he is out of here. If a kid can't do the alphabet and simple math, the kid stays in grade school until s/he can. Otherwise, and starting right now, we need options that include: home schooling with financial support, private schooling with financial support, more charter school options, financial penalties for each school that fails to perform--and we're not talking about incremental improvement--we're talking about standard OR BETTER results EACH school year.

  44. @Roslenda, where are you going to get the money to pay for what you propose? How are you going to measure the results?

  45. We need to read the book "Why Johnny Can't Read," see .

    Using the "Look-say" method of reading has created functional illiterates.

    Instead "Alpha Phonics" should be re-instated.

    There is a Rockefellerian conspiracy to dumb down students that started in the nineteenth century with the support of psychologist Wilhelm Wundt and later propagated by Horace Mann and John Dewey.

    Our poor children have been victims of this for generations. And deliberately so. They are supposed to be unable to compete with children in foreign countries in order to lower the standard of living of the United States to harmonize it with other third world nations under the emerging New World Order.

    You can read all about it at, "The Leipzig Connection: Sabotage of the US Educational System"
    by Paolo Lionni.