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November 27, 2014

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Education:

School District’s report card shows gains, room for improvement

Nevada education department releases annual “accountability report”

The Clark County School District made gains in student achievement last school year but still has room for improvement, according to a state report card released this week.

The Nevada Department of Education issued on Sunday the School District's "accountability report," a 123-page report card that outlines how the district performed on various measures from truancy to graduation rates.

Here are five key findings from the School District's report card from the 2011-12 school year:

    • Student demographics

      The School District had 308,237 students, with slightly more male pupils than female pupils. Hispanic students represented the largest ethnic subgroup – 43 percent of all students.

      About 56 percent of the district's students participated in the federal Free and Reduced-Price meal program, an increase from 51 percent during the 2010-11 school year.

      About a third of the district's students changed schools by the end of the year.

    • Discipline issues

      The number of truancies — students playing hooky from class — decreased by about half from the 2010-11 school year to 1,556 incidents last year. There were 19 students expelled from the district last year, same as the year prior.

      There were 13 percent fewer fights between students (4,392) last year than the prior year, although violence to staff (191 incidents) increased by 47 percent over the same period. Weapons on campus declined by 8 percent to 357 reported incidents.

      Drugs and alcohol in schools remained fairly constant, with 1,190 incidents of drug possession and 146 incidents of alcohol possession reported on campus last year.

      Last year was the first year bullying and cyberbullying were tallied in the state's report card. There were 1,584 such incidents in the district.

    • Class sizes

      The average student-to-teacher ratio went up by one student, to 23-to-1 last year. Average class sizes ranged from 24 and 25 students in English and math respectively to 27 students in science and social studies. (Some schools and subjects experienced larger class sizes.)

      Average attendance rates by students and teachers were in the mid-90 percent.

    • Per-pupil spending

      The School District spent $353 more per pupil during the 2011-12 school year than the 2010-11 school year, with average per-pupil spending at $7,757.

      About two-thirds of the expenditure went to teacher instruction, about 10 percent went to instruction support, 18 percent went to operations and 7 percent went to leadership.

    • Student performance

      Last year, the district began using a more accurate "cohort" graduation rate calculation, which tracks a group of students from when they enter high school to graduation — taking into account transfers and dropouts. The state is in its final year of reporting graduation rates using the outdated "leaver" calculation, which doesn't take into account transfers and dropouts.

      The School District's preliminary results show that its "cohort" graduation rate improved by 7 percentage points to 66 percent after accounting for summer graduates.

      There was a slight decrease in high school dropout rate from 4.8 percent in the class of 2010 to 4.4 percent in the class of 2011.

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    1. Clark County School District has done a marvelous job in changing course, in a steady and consistent manner. Change has come in increments that allow enough transition time for both students and staff, and has not been overwhelmingly harsh. School employees have embraced new technology with their accompanying applications, and do gather together for off-time trainings to become more updated, prepared, and ready to implement best practices in teaching to support the Growth Model. It is money wisely and well spent.

      Taking the "It takes a village to raise a child," approach in assisting secondary students towards graduation has met with success, and thankfully continues. The expansion of educational service offerings as online education, technical magnet schools, charter schools, and more, have effectively reached out to those where the "traditional classroom" genre of education has not served them successfully. It is about meeting the needs of students as best as the collective school district can with what they have within their power to use.

      These gains are a great sign that things are working. As any organization knows, to remain viable and successful, they must always look for ways to improve. Taxpayers can be assured that is happening.

      Blessings and Peace,
      Star

    2. I cannot begin to explain how much I hope the numbers in this article are wrong. 357 Weapons on campus. 1190 Drug possesion. 146 Alcohol possession. 191 Violence against Staff.

      AND ONLY 19 STUDENTS EXPELLED???

      I feel so sorry for the students who follow the rules and may actually be at school to learn. This is what they have to deal with every day? What happened to the Administration providing a safe environment for learning?

      What did the 19 do, kill somebody?

    3. Meaningful comparisons to previous data cannot be made as the State and the District have changed how measurement is made. It could well be that improvement is occurring or it could also be that data is being manipulated to appear more positive than it really is. One area of measure of which I have personal knowledge is the average class size. In the comprehensive high school at which I taught I cannot recall a single class, absent Special Education, which had close to the stated average. Our Vice-Principal for Curriculum and Instruction was very clear that no class would be offered if it had fewer than 30 students. I personally know AP teachers who had in excess of 40 students per class, shop teachers with more than 40 and physical education with 60 plus. Core classes [Match, English, etc] ran about 38 per class. Perhaps the State and the District would be more believable if accurate data was provided.

    4. @Fan 7:48AM...The 19 students were expelled from the District, not just from their schools. A school can expel a student who then has the right to go to another school [on his/her own transportation dime]. Depending on circumstances leading to the expulsion this can happen several times. In addition a higher proportion of students labelled Special Education have behavior problems but their rights to educational services are greater than the average student making expulsion far less likely.