Earlier this year, Education Week Magazine gave Nevada schools a “D” as part of its annual Quality Counts report. In fact, Nevada ranked last among all states. Reno Youth Radio’s Kenia Aguirre talked to two educators to get their thoughts on this situation.
If I got a D, my parents would kill me! So, Nevada’s ranking is really disappointing. Every day at school, I see teachers working hard to give students the best education possible. Being ranked last in the country must be frustrating.
My history teacher at Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology is Mr. Rodney Rogers. He says one of the problems is that our school technology is from, like, 1995.
"Unfortunately, you can walk into a lot of high school classrooms today and they look just like the classrooms I was in when I was a student, which has been 20 years.”
He says using outdated technology makes students uninterested in what they’re learning and more interested in what’s on their phones.
"21st century learners tend to have their heads down in their phone quite frequently. And they tend to focus more on their phone than the class at hand," Rogers says. "I think students are lacking grit, determination, hard work, effort, and generally an overall sense of accountability."
I also spoke to my friend's sister who is a teacher’s assistant. Ms. Brooke Concialdi believes academics are declining because students are not getting the help they need at home. But she says technology is to blame there, too.
"I think students are definitely lacking support at home. You see in high school, middle school kids are really tuned into their phones," she says. "But parents, you know, parents are super tuned into their phones. They’d rather sit on Facebook than help their kid with their homework.”
So, as a student, when I get a bad grade, I try to figure out how to fix it. That’s what teachers are trying to do, too. But it’s hard.
“I work with small groups on just reading," says Concialdi. "I think if more schools did more work like that, where you’re pulling the kids who are struggling and working with them one-on-one, that could definitely help students academically--just making sure they’re not gonna fall behind.”
While that is one way to help students now, Concialdi says we need to start earlier.
"Early childhood development is something that we should be focusing on because getting those fundamental skills down before reaching kindergarten is very important. They need those skills for the rest of their lives.”
Mr. Rogers has a solution, too.
"I don't know how much Nevada can necessarily improve their education system without dumping hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers dollars to make 21st century classrooms look exactly that."
According to these two educators, Nevada schools have a lot of problems to fix. To sum up: they say that teachers need access to modern technology, parents must offer support outside of the classroom, and the state should focus more on early childhood development. While there’s no quick fix, they say these are at least steps in the right direction.