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January 30, 2015

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Nevada’s high school graduation rate third lowest in nation


Leila Navidi

Senior Raequan Charingto feigns exhaustion during a science proficiency exam tutoring session for seniors in the classroom of science teacher Sergio Lopez at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Monday, April 23, 2012.

Class of 2013 graduation rate

More than 13,000 Nevada students in the Class of 2013 will fail to graduate, according to Education Week.

Nationally, a little more than 1 million students will fail to graduate this year.

The bulk of these nongraduates are minority students.

The graduation rate for Hispanic students in Nevada is 55 percent. For black students, it's 45 percent. However, it's the worst for Native American students: 38 percent.

For comparison, Nevada graduates 76 percent of its Asian students and 69 percent of its white students.

In fact, the Clark County School District was still named the nation's third biggest "dropout epicenter," behind New York City Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified School District.

Education Week projects 9,552 nongraduates in Clark County's class of 2013, up from 5,754 nongraduates last year.

Despite making some gains, Nevada has the third worst graduation rate in the nation, according to an Education Week report released last week.

Over the past decade, graduation rates have improved in 46 states — including Nevada — ranging from a fraction of a percentage point to more than 31 percentage points.

This growth has propelled the national graduation rate to its highest point in 40 years, a significant milestone for America's public education system.

Nearly three-quarters of students in the class of 2010 graduated from high school with a regular diploma. The last time this happened was back in 1973.

However, while Nevada's graduation rate rose over the past decade, it is still far from reaching this milestone.

Between 2000 and 2010, the Silver State's graduation rate grew by 7.4 percentage points to 62.7 percent. For comparison, the national graduation rate went up by 7.9 percentage points to 74.7 percent over the same decade.

Despite these gains, Nevada still has the third lowest graduation rate among states in the country, beating only South Carolina (61.5 percent) and New Mexico (59.4 percent), according to the education magazine's 2013 Diploma Counts report. Washington, D.C. had the lowest graduation rate in the nation at 57 percent.

To reach the national average, Nevada must boost its graduation rate by 12 percentage points. To match the highest graduation rate in the country — Vermont's 85 percent — Nevada has to improve by 22 percentage points.

Some states were able to boost their graduation rates significantly over the past decade, according to Education Week.

Ten states were able to post double-digit gains between 2000 and 2010. These states included Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.

However, posting double-digit gains may not be sufficient for Nevada to meet and exceed the national average.

South Carolina, which had the worst graduation rate in the country in 2000, made tremendous growth in its graduation rate, gaining 13.1 percentage points. However, a decade later, the Palmetto State still has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, according to Education Week's report.

Two states made exceptional gains in their graduation rates over the past decade: Tennessee and Florida.

In 2000, both states were graduating less than half of their students. A decade later, Tennessee is graduating more than 80 percent of its children. Florida, which also has a high population of English-language learner students, has nearly reached the national graduation rate average.

These states were able to improve their graduation rates — by 31.5 and 23 percentage points respectively — through a variety of education reform efforts and funding targeted toward helping minority students. Some of these reform efforts, such as the school and teacher evaluation systems, have been controversial.

Only time will tell if Nevada, which has been copying education reform efforts from Florida and Colorado, will reap similar benefits.

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  1. When you are always late for class or don't show up at all, don't study chances are you are not going to pass.

    Funny how half the kids do just fine and the other half fail.

    We need to stop looking at why some fail and start promoting what is working for the other half.

  2. A failure of this magnitude in the private sector would result in managers (CCSD Superintends) being fired? Sixty two percent graduation rate, why is the top management still here? The best thing for CCSD, parents and students would to break up the district and make it more managable. Lets give the State Legislature something important to do next session and create the Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County districts. Its time to make a change!

  3. A person's name has nothing do with low grades. But the parents need to monitor their children's performance in school. When I got home it was homework first and then chores and then play. If my grades went down my parents helped me bring them up. But then you have to be smarter than your kids!

  4. At the bottom of ANOTHER LIST! But do we need to spend more money to entice better people to teach here, oh NOOOOOOOOO! Conservatives sure do believe in the free market-until you try to explain to them that the same principles apply in hiring teachers. Then, all of a sudden, when their own money is on the line, the free market doesn't apply!

  5. mar100, I like the idea of having smaller school districts, but with financial woes the state has in funding education, I fear that more high district superintendents and their salaries would bankrupt the school system without benefiting the children.

    So, to shift to a smaller management style instead of a large blanket management system like we have may be too expensive.

    Funny thing, I dont think it's that our state or county doesn't have the money to improve our school system with more jobs, or better pay, or improvement to schools. Instead we have a small group of people sitting on very high salaries.

    We do need fundamental changes to our salary structure for local government jobs or else we wont be able to relocate the money to other areas of the budget that really need it. So, who's willing to take a pay cut? No one. So, what's next? Let people go. It's sad but true. Time for change.

  6. This only goes to show what type of parents teachers have to put up with. It is 100% on the parents' responsibility to keep their children in school until they graduate. 100%!

  7. Expect some of these students to experience more disappointment from our education system when they attempt to further their educations through on line educational institutions which most employers fail to recognize. Given that these institutions are owned by owners of news media, citizens remain unaware of this unless they question the institutions value on line.
    Our nation today appears to be textbook example of bad government and conflict of interest. To repair our society we must begin removing conflicts of interest responsible for allowing creation of our problems. A useful tool for such would be publicly funding a national segment of news media to compete with that owned by titans of industry.

  8. Bottom line is kids have to care and want to graduate enough to work at it. Most of my students don't want to do anything that isn't fun and/ or that takes work.

    That attitude has to be overcome with an attitude that believes the work and sometimes tedium is worth it. That is one place the district should be focusing, but I don't see that happening at all.

    The attitude from the top and from too many parents is that teachers need to make everything fun. I can stand in front of my students with the door closed and tell them not everything in life is fun, and you have to work, but god forbid an administrator should walk in while I'm doing it or I'd get a lecture. This dumping of everything on teachers and students can be as lazy as can be is the sort of thing that goes on left and right in this district of which more citizens need to be aware. (Such issues include chronic discipline problems, admonishments for giving too many low grades, capitulation to bad parenting, etc.)

  9. Whoops, pressed submit instead of edit.

    This dumping of excessive work on teachers, while students can be as lazy as can be, is...

    The district thinks it can improve schools by overworking teachers while students remain lazy, but improvement is not going to happen until more students improve.

  10. It will not change until parents (yes, parents with an s) make it known to their children the importance of education. You drop out and I can almost guarantee a life of poverty and struggle with dead end jobs. I can't throw a rock without hitting a single parent, struggling to survive in this town.

    Education is the BACKBONE of a financially secure future. With how competitive it has become for the next job opening, you need to be well positioned to get it. That means finishing high school and either going to college or learning a skilled trade.

    Blame the education system all you want...until parents get involved in their children's education, nothing will change.

    The Vegas school system is dead simply because they don't want to focus on the root problem. Parents, parents and parents. Get them ready, feed them, dress them and make them understand the importance of listening, studying, doing homework and not being disruptive. Once you get that accomplished we can start discussing how to improve the current curriculum.

    Right now you're wasting tax payer dollars on high priced administrators while the graduation rate hovers at 60%. Disgraceful on every level.

    Where are mom and dad!!???

  11. Lengthen the school day & year, raise core standards & test annually, and change teacher standards to bring in more motivated elementary teachers (an AA degree should more than suffice) and subject matter experienced HS teachers (degree and/or experience in the field, not "education"). We already offer a free meal or two to most -- expand it to all so that no child goes hungry. Offer more supervised study hall or playground time -- ask for more adult volunteers or have HS kids do it at the elementary schools for community service credit. Start holding children & their parents accountable for disciplinary problems -- classroom disruptions or poor performance -- with repeat offenders sent to remedial programs or special magnet schools.

  12. @ mar100

    Your comparison of private sector managers and the education system is so logically flawed that I cannot believe you actually think something so errant.

    I would make a wager that if you were working for the school district, your results would be no better.

    You go teach a class in a public Nevada high school and see how well you fair.

  13. Many neighborhoods in Las Vegas feature parents who are so far from being fluent in English, creating a problem of who is going to help those kids with their work when they are out for the day. Parents have to be plugged in as well, and learning English on their part would be a great step to bridge that knowledge and help with homework and the like. The teacher has that child in front of them for only so many hours in the day and then what happens?

  14. A graduation rate 3 lowest from the bottom! As far as I am concerned they can tie teacher pay to graduation rate just like they tie government services and pay to inflation. Third from the bottom sounds just about right to pay teachers for this kind of performance!

  15. The problem today is students and parents alike expect something for nothing. They expect a passing grade when they haven't done homework all year. Just can't teach smart. And this has nothing to do with ESL, these are your good ole below average lazy white kids.

  16. Experience has shown that what the Education Elitists insist is money towards education is actually money towards propping up the failed government sanctioned educational paradigm.

    In other words, you are paying for the lavish retirement system for the public sector employees and the teachers unions in taxpayer provided buildings. Not an education for students.

    The Federal government does not want an educated citizenry that can think critically. They want subservient automatons who gleefully do what they are told. Woodrow Wilson said it best: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

    Nothing has changed since Woodrow was so kind to make that statement in front of the New York City High School Teachers Association. The goal is a minimally educated public that can be easily ausuaged with panem et circenses (bread and games, for those of you educated in government schools)

    Johnny and Jane can't read and write and count? Boo hoo. Look in the mirror. Now you know who to blame.

  17. We need to give the Teachers Union more money so they can hire more Union Leaders. That is the only reasonable answer here.

  18. If it costs money to improve the Kindergarten through college/university system in Nevada, it ain't gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent, as my friend GHWB would say. ....... The senior citizens are living on retirement benefits that they earned because they had a good education that was paid for by someone other than their parents. But they're not going to support school bonds that benefit a school district made up of largely African American and hispanic students. Compare the educational, co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings made available at Green Valley High School to the educational, co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings made available at Rancho High School and you'll get an idea why the disparity exists. Then compare the graduation rates at Green Valley with the graduation rate at Rancho. Any connection?

  19. It is a fact, as the proportion of children in poverty rises, the statistics for US schools drop. In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 16% of the U.S. population lived in poverty, including 22% of all people under age 18, approximately 43.6 million. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty. The war on poverty has been replaced with a war on public education and the teachers who devote their lives to educating our youth, despite the negative rhetoric.
    The working poor are more likely working evening jobs as is common in Las Vegas. When parents are not home to see that their children get enough rest, do their homework, help them with materials for projects, or give them the encouragement which motivates them to succeed in school, students become alienated from the school experience at best. Unsupervised teens also engage in high risk behaviors, drugs, alcohol, etc. which contribute to school failure. The drop out issue cannot be blamed on teachers. It is a societal problem. It takes a village.
    Instead of pointing fingers at teachers, it is time to step up and help. Volunteer to tutor. Join Big Brothers and Sisters and mentor a young person. Become a guest speaker to help students make the school to career connection. Lead a youth group.
    It is a circular problem. Without an educated work force, their is little incentive for companies to locate in Vegas. Without good jobs waiting for them, students fail to see the importance of education.

  20. Investment


    Nevada cut nearly a billion dollars from public schools in the last few years. And then complains about results?

    There is only one reason to starve schools like this - to kill them. Do you really think we will be better off privatizing public education? Do you really think corporations and big money who are waiting in the wings to sell reform care about kids? Do you think snake oil and quick fixes are going to work?

    This veteran school teacher is pleading for the community to gear up for the battle that will occur with big money and big mining - when the people will get a chance to VOTE to tax millionaires and billionaires and finally FUND our schools.

    Enough is enough. Starving our schools and failing our kids is no good.

  21. $12,000 per kid per year is ENOUGH FUNDING. Some local schools are very high performing. Perhaps we should factor in that perhaps 1/3 of the students are illegals and have much less incentive to learn and graduate. Those who cannot LEGALLY hold a job.... Those who will "work" in a family business, restaurant, plan to live off handouts aren't planning on pushing themselves into doing the work.

  22. Truthdetector 3:49. Good to see an intelligent mind at work. Note that teachers get 2 and 1/2 % for each year, say 25 years and retire at any age with 62 and 1/2 % of their high salary--which is currently about $96,000 less perks. Soooo many teachers retire at age 50, get about $48,000 in retirement while the parents of students work at minimum wage and earn $800 or so in SS benefits. Wonder why our economy can't rebound?

  23. Let's start privatizing and escalate each biennium. Private schools, charter schools, home schooling with the DSA AND LSST funding following the students--will generate a funding mechanism for ALTERNATIVES to public K-12.

  24. Education involves people and when people are involved, the variables are so massive that you can only look at trends and patterns to make an educated guess as to what is effective. There are, however, universal truths that have been proven through the ages. And, these truth are oftentimes ignored because of people's fascination for modern solutions. These truths are:

    1. The apple does not fall far from the tree. When parents do not care much about education, why would the child? A home whose priorities are other than education would not have books or any kind of reading material, would not likely take the child to the library or any cultural events, would not likely engage in any meaningful discussions at home, would most likely have unhealthy environment and meals, and a host of other handicapping issues. All these contribute to the child's cognitive delays and put the child at-risk. By the time the child enters Kindergarten, he already has developmental delays which are commulative.

    2. A child home environment greatly affects the child's emotional state. Imagine a child who did not have dinner that night, unable to sleep, and did not have breakfast. Most likely, that child did not read that night, much less did homework.

    3. The child comes to school and would either be sitting quietly in one corner, or would 'act-up,' making the classroom not conducive for teaching and learning. Sitting quietly in a corner makes him invisible. The teacher's attention sadly, is focused on teaching his material and with 30 or more students, that child most likely will get ignored. The one 'acting-up' will get the attention and will most likely go to detention, thus missing lessons.

    4. Children in a least ideal home environment are most likely unhealthy and are always absent, missing lessons, and getting further behind physically, socially, and academically. They are the ones who most likely are unable to go on field trips, school activities, and other extra-curricular activities to enhance learning.

    5. Poverty is the biggest challenge a child faces. The poorest population in our country are children. When one is poor, he is already disadvantaged at every level. It takes a gargantuan effort for a family to mitigate this issue and school work is the very least of the priorities.

    Reforms that focus on teacher evaluation, assessments, ELL, and the like are palliative measures. We must go deeper. We must address the needs of our children where they require it most. There is between 30-40% of families in Las Vegas who fall below the poverty level. Sixty percent graduation rate is right on the money.

    Blaming the teacher is too convenient. I suggest to those that do, please use your anger toward mitigating family challenges, if indeed you truly care about children and graduation rates. Otherwise, please save your vitriol because it only shows your ignorance.