By Jackie Valley

The Nevada Independent

If you’re an education optimist in Nevada, the results of a national report might lead you to this conclusion: There’s nowhere to go but up.

It’s true at least in terms of rankings. Nevada earned a “D” grade and a 51st overall ranking among all states and the District of Columbia on Education Week’s 2018 Quality Counts report, which was released Wednesday. That marks the second year in a row the Silver State has scored dead last on the national ranking.

But state education officials were quick to point out that the report uses 2015 data, meaning it doesn’t take into account the nearly $500 million worth of education investments Nevada has made since then.

“Look, we understand that performance must improve, and this is what we said last year with the Quality Counts report: It looks in the rear-view mirror,” state Superintendent Steve Canavero said. “It does give us a good indication of where we’ve been. I don’t believe, though, that we should use the Quality Counts report as an evaluation of the investments of 2015 and the work in 2017 as well. That needs more timely data and more accessible data.”

Some of the education investments he’s referring to include Zoom and Victory schools, which push extra money toward campuses with large numbers of children learning English or living in poverty, and Read By Grade 3, an initiative to ensure students learn to read on time.

Canavero said he expects Nevada will see a “significant bump” next year in its scores related to academic achievement and financing when new data is used.

As it stands now, Nevada ranks 38th in the report’s K-12 achievement category, which is based on 2015 testing data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The NAEP test, as it’s known, occurs every other year using a sampling of students.

In the school finance category, which considers factors such as per-pupil spending, Nevada ranks 48th. Meanwhile, the Silver State landed in the No. 50 spot in the chance for success category, which examines family income, parent education, preschool enrollment and high school graduation rates, among other variables.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut, in that order, earned the top grades and overall rankings this year. Louisiana, Idaho, Mississippi and New Mexico joined Nevada in the bottom five.

This article reprinted with permission from The Nevada Independent. Those interested can email contact@thenvindy.com

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