Nevada Now Ranks Dead Last For Education

Jan 8, 2016

Credit Alexa Ard

  

After years of being near the bottom of the barrel, Nevada has finally ranked dead-last nationally for its education system, based on an annual report released this week. Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick reports.

The Quality Counts report now ranks Nevada at the very bottom, citing limited education funding, low amounts of college-educated parents and high rates of non-English speaking students.

Ben Hayes is chief accountability officer for the Washoe County School District. He says the ranking is based on factors outside of their control, and student performance in the state is actually more in line with national averages.

“So if you look at achievement, Nevada’s actually doing well," Hayes says, "especially better than you would predict given their funding and given their chance for success metrics. It shows a little bit of a high expectation, and it’s what has made the biggest difference in our schools the last several years.”

Washoe County now has a 75 percent graduation rate, higher than the 70 percent seen statewide.  

While this sort of hard data is helpful, Hayes says they must hear from students, too.

“One of our richest data sources of information is having the kids talk to us about what their experience is," he explains. "That gives us a lot more information in how to better support kids. We had a big conference last May, [with] hundreds of kids presenting and participating alongside adults.”

Hayes says he’s hopeful that the state’s ranking will improve as education funding starts coming in from the tax package approved during the last legislative session.