A recent presentation was given by the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, highlighting the academic performance of over 340 schools within the district. The findings were exceptionally disappointing. The star ratings, which are provided by the state as a way to easily determine a school’s performance for parents, staff and policymakers, indicated a significant decline in overall academic achievement.
Decline in Nevada School Performances
First off, it’s worth knowing the benchmark in which we measure schools. In Nevada, for a school to be given five stars, it’s an exceptional academic performance. On the flip side, a school with only one star is considered to have not met the state’s standard for performance. A three-star school means it has adequate performance. Using this metric, the recent report, however, is not appealing.
For example, the most recent report rated 39 percent of district schools as three stars or higher. This is a significant decline compared to the previous year’s rating of 55 percent. Worst of the year, four times as many academies got one star compared to those who earned four or five stars. Excluding alternative and special education schools, this figure still speaks for itself.
A granular look at various academic metrics further reveals significant decreases. In the 2018-19 academic year, only 46.7 percent of third graders could read proficiently. The following year, the count declined to a mere 39.3 percent. Eleventh-grade math competency dropped from 24.5 percent to an abysmal 19.2 percent during the same period. Without a doubt, there are numerous other academic gauges that showcase noteworthy declines as well.
Superintendent, Jesus Jara Response
The superintendent, Jesus Jara, who had been with the Clark County School District, was questioned about this, and his response was that education was impacted by Corona. He elaborates that performances couldn’t have been worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Covid has impacted the education system, it’s not the sole reason for low student achievement. The policies implemented by Mr. Jara have only worsened the impact of school closures on learning, with decisions such as removing school discipline protocols and lowering grading standards.
As a result, student absenteeism has significantly increased during these challenging times. Again, despite receiving additional funding from lawmakers, the district has failed to prioritize student achievement and instead, faced labor unrest due to mismanagement of resources.
At the beginning of 2018, Superintendent Jara began his role with ambitious goals for academic development in the Focus 2024 plan. His initial objective for the previous academic year was to achieve a three-star rating or higher for all schools. Despite this, not only did this fail to materialize, but conditions have regressed significantly.
The decrease in academic achievement does not solely impact the general student populace; it also profoundly affects autistic children. It is imperative for the district to confront these challenges and offer effective interventions to guarantee that all students, including those with specific needs, receive adequate assistance during this trying period.
The Nevada Autism Center remains committed to advocating for children diagnosed with autism and other disabilities, offering valuable tools and assistance for families and educators.