Nevada’s public schools continue to lag behind the rest of the nation despite modest gains in math and reading scores in recent years. That’s according to the results of the most recent administration of the biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress — a test otherwise known as the nation’s report card.
KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Jhone Ebert to talk about those results, and to see what policymakers say needs to be done to improve the state’s educational standing.
Among the most notable results of the test include a four-point bump in fourth-grade math scores, while English learners scored 11 points higher in 2019 than in 2017. Ebert says the growth highlights how much work students and teachers are doing every year.
"When we look at the improvements and the growth over time, our students are actually retaining more than a year's worth of material than they did two decades ago,” Ebert says. “So, we see gains, [but] do we have to improve? Absolutely."
In addition to the NAEP scores, education officials also released the results of the most recent administration of the ACT – a test given to all seniors. Once again, Nevada saw modest gains, increasing the state’s average by .2 points to 17.9, but the improvements were not enough to lift the state out of the basement.
The test also underscored the significant achievement gaps between white students and students of color. While white students received an average composite score of 20.1, Hispanic students averaged 16.7 and black students increased their scores to 15.5. Ebert says more needs to be done to understand the barriers facing all students.
"There are many different reasons for gaps, whether it is language -- do students have access to the assessment -- because sometimes it's not about the intellectual capital but [what] the barrier is. Their native language is not English. So we need to be sure that we are measuring students, that they're able to demonstrate their knowledge in their assessments whether there's an accommodation for differently-abled students or [the] language piece.”