The Horrible Truth Behind Nevada’s K-12 Test Data

Transparency has disappeared. Trust is shattered. And $ 777 million to support our children is at stake.

State test results for the last school year were recently reported for students in Nevada – a test with results that the US Department of Education (DOE) said schools and districts should not be held accountable due to global pandemic interruptions.

However, the DOE did not suspend the administration of the assessments. Instead, the tests had to be administered so that we could try to better understand how our children were affected by such a tumultuous school year and what kinds of supports they would need in the future.

In Louisiana, 98.5% of state students took their state tests. In Nevada, outside of the Clark County School District (CCSD), 93% of students took the state test. What was participating in the CCSD like?

At CCDS, 54 percent students participated. For education in southern Nevada, this is a civil rights crisis, namely:

  • More than 64,000 CCDS students have not been tested.
  • More than 58,000 CCDS students eligible for the free or reduced price lunch have not been tested.
  • Over 9,000 CCDS English language learners have not been tested.
  • More than 8,000 CCDS students with an IEP (an individualized education plan, developed to ensure that children with disabilities attend school and receive special education) have not been tested.

Throughout the rest of Nevada:

  • Over 94 percent of English language learners have been tested.
  • More than 91 percent of students eligible for a free or discounted lunch have been tested.
  • More than 91 percent of students with an IEP have been tested.

Again, the test was not administered in order to hold schools and districts accountable. The test was administered so that we as a community could better understand the supports our children would need and be able to monitor the progress and effectiveness of those supports over time.

The US bailout allocated $ 122 billion for education to address the impacts on our children’s learning in the past year and a half of schooling; $ 777 million of that money goes to CCSD.

Why is this important?

We are about to invest $ 777 million in an issue on which we have no clarity. We don’t have a good database against which to measure progress.

Instead, we must trust the leadership of the CCSD: believing that only they know what our children need. Trust that they are making the progress they say they are making. Trust that they are spending three quarters of a billion dollars to support our children and not on political favors.

The leadership of the CCSD did not deserve this trust. Instead, they’ve broken that trust over the past couple of years, like this:

  • Governor Sisolak denounced CCDS superintendent Jesus Jara for misleading the community.
  • The president of the assembly berated the leaders of the CCSD for their lack of communication.
  • The State Board of Education agreed that the CCSD was not in compliance with Nevada’s bipartisan reorganization law.
  • The union representing school principals has cast its first-ever vote of no confidence in a school principal.
  • Tens of thousands of parents have removed their children from CCSD.
  • This school year started with and continues to have over 800 vacancies for teaching / dismissed staff.
  • There are hundreds of vacant bus driver positions while our children wait at street corners.
  • The morale of teachers and principals is the worst it has ever been.

The leadership of the CCSD has shown us time and time again that they cannot be trusted. In particular, Superintendent Jara cannot be trusted to spend $ 777 million to fix an issue he couldn’t be trusted to be transparent about.

Superintendent Jara let down our community, our teachers and our children. It’s time to have a superintendent we can trust. Our children deserve better.

Nathan Trenholm is the former Director of Research and Accountability for the Clark County School District and a founding partner of Data Analytics Partners, a leading education analytics company here in Nevada. Nathan has worked with school districts, nonprofits, and state departments of education throughout Nevada and the United States.

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