The Eureka County School District received its marks in the Nevada School Performance Framework star ratings.
Eureka Elementary School earned five stars, Eureka Middle School earned three stars while Eureka High School earned four stars. Schools can receive between one and five stars, with five stars being the highest grade a school can receive. While the system looks at various factors such as the achievement gap between minority groups and the majority group, attendance, test scores and growth, for Eureka County schools, the star ratings may not be a perfect model.
“The system puts high achieving schools at risk because of the Nevada growth model,” Eureka County School District Superintendent Bob Zunino said. “Each school must be very vigilant in looking at the data. We noted some data that was not included and detracted from our high school ranking. This process is a way of differentiating schools for political reasons. We plan to have excellent schools and focus on high achievement regardless of the state’s evaluation system.”
As Eureka’s schools look to continue to provide its students a quality education, Zunino said they are well on their way to bettering the experience.
“The culture of excellence in Eureka’s schools is exceptional,” Zunino said. “Our math, science, language arts, and reading are all above average on the norm reference tests we administer to the K – 11 grades, but we can do better. We will continue to build on the cognitive skills needed by the students. We will continue to look at what we are doing to promote achievement, and improve based on the needs of the students. We will continue to focus on improvement of instruction to the students. Quality instruction is the key to successful student achievement.”
To help achieve quality instruction, the teachers at every grade level teach students to go above and beyond the state’s standards.
“We continue to improve our instruction by teaching at a deeper depth of knowledge so that the student understands more than the basic level of cognition,” Zunino said. “We have implemented an academic vocabulary program for all of our students in grades 2-12. This will help our students in all areas of learning. We emphasize the use on mathematics and writing in all areas of the curriculum.”
But the school district’s search for new ways to teach students better won’t stop any time soon.
“We continue to look at different ways to improve our writing skills, use mathematics across the curriculum, and improve our students’ problem-solving skills,” Zunino said. “We have already implemented increased depth of knowledge by providing professional development for our teachers and administrators. We will continue to develop our articulation from level to level by holding meetings between the teachers and administrators of both schools. By doing this the teachers and administrators can share what information they have learned from their time with each of the students (what works and does not work with each student). We will continue to work with parents on how they can support their child’s education.”
While the Nevada School Performance Framework is aimed at giving the public a sense of how schools are performing compared to a state standard, but Zunino urges parents to look at their personal situation to judge how the schools are doing.
“I don’t hold much stock in ranking schools; each school is different and has its own strengths and needs,” Zunino said. “Students’ progress at different rates and each has his own pace. Parents should look at the system in terms of their own children, and how they are progressing as individuals. Parents know their children better than anyone, and can judge how well they are doing better than a state test. The ranking system brings together several sets of data; each is a snapshot of the students and the school. Some of the data, such as attendance, is beyond the control of the school. Other, data such as growth, which is a major part of the evaluation system, is inexplicable. The stars are a state ranking. Parents should look at the ranking, but they should focus on their own children and their experiences, growth and achievement.”