In 2015, the 8th-grade math scores declined by two points nationally compared to the previous assessment in 2013, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP.)
The NAEP assessment scores had improved for 8th-grade students by 20 points since 1990 when the score was 263. However, since 2003, scores have improved by one or two points every two years for the past decade. In 2013, the NAEP score was 285 followed by a drop in 2015 to 282 nationally.
The states differ in scores with Massachusetts being number one with a score of 297. New Hampshire and Minnesota both score 294 followed by New Jersey with 293. The national average is 281. There are 23 states that scored above 281 and 16 that score below 281.
Nevada continues to score below the national average with 275.
In an article printed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 17, 2017, the Clark County School District’s chief academic officer, Mike Barton, said that 16,726 eighth-grade students took the Smarter Balanced test, while 5,864 took the high school end-of-course exam. That leaves 26 percent of eighth-graders that were not included in the Smarter Balanced results.
In Nevada, high-achieving eighth-graders taking high-school math courses while in middle school are not considered in the Smarter Balanced data.
“The best math students in eighth grade are taking algebra or geometry. You’re basically removing the highest-performing eighth-graders from this sample, which is why it dips down,” said Barton.
Nevada has consistently ranked at the bottom in education among the states. While spending has increased steadily, it has not helped the overall poor results in the state.
In the last two Nevada state legislative sessions, many elected officials have worked to implement Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) that would allow parents to receive a portion of the government per-pupil spending to use at the school of their choice. While popular among parents, Governor Brian Sandoval has refused to approve funding for the program.
This year, the Clark County School District (CCSD) has a budget shortfall. In August 2017, CCSD approved a 43 million dollar cut followed by layoffs in which they hope will save an additional $13.9 million.
The public has long sought an audit of the Clark County public-school system financials. So far, that has not happened. Residents believe the system is top heavy with overpaid positions creating constant budget shortfalls in spite of legislative increased taxes to fund education.
The public may have a valid point. The current superintendent has a daily pay rate of $1,169.95, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but he will retire in June, 2017.
Retiring superintendent, Pat Skorkowsky, is expected to receive a parting bonus just under $170,000 in unused sick and vacation days. His estimated pension has a monthly payout of more than $19,000.
Teachers and students want higher paid officials to take pay cuts to prevent job loss for other employees.
With the next election cycle looming, education is bound to be a major focus for Nevadans. Increased taxes for education, again, with no accounting for where the money is spent coupled with results that have left Nevada ranking at the bottom, may be rejected.
The 2017 NAEP scores are not yet available.
By Laurel Fee
Edited by D. Chandler
Las Vegas Review-Journal: In Nevada, poor eighth-grade math scores come with asterisk
Las Vegas Review-Journal: CCSD superintendent in for big payday when he retires next year
The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 | Mathematics & Reading Assessments
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