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September 15, 2014

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Cimarron-Memorial, Sunrise Mountain added to ranks of ‘turnaround’ effort

The Clark County School District announced three new turnaround schools on Monday: Cimarron-Memorial High School, Sunrise Mountain High School and Wilhelm Elementary School.

For the past several months, the School District has been evaluating 12 schools deemed candidates for a dramatic overhaul. District officials say the turnaround measures being undertaken at the three schools announced Monday are part of an effort to boost lagging student test scores and graduation rates.

The schools will get new principals, to be hired by March. Those new principals will be able to select up to 10 new staffers at the elementary school and up to 12 new staffers at the high schools. Existing principals and staff will be reassigned to other schools.

The new turnaround schools may receive as much as $500,000 in additional funding from the district, as well as additional staff development, instructional time and social services. The district will try to recruit “highly qualified” teachers for every classroom, better monitor student progress and offer afterschool tutoring, Saturday school and summer classes.

The three new turnaround schools are all in the northern valley, and are rated two stars by the district. Here are some other statistics about the new turnaround schools, according to the most recent accountability reports.

• Cimarron-Memorial High School has 2,525 students, about 66 percent of whom come from minority backgrounds. About 60 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

The school’s Class of 2011 had a graduation rate of 51 percent and a dropout rate of 7.4 percent. This year, 59 percent of Cimarron-Memorial's 549 seniors are currently not on track to graduate.

Last year, 71 percent of students were proficient in reading, 66 percent were proficient in writing and 60 percent were proficient in math.

Of the 136 Cimarron-Memorial graduates who enrolled at Nevada colleges last year, about a third required remedial classes.

• Sunrise Mountain High School has 2,494 students, about 86 percent of whom come from minority backgrounds. Three-quarters of students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

The school's class of 2011 had a graduation rate of 37 percent and a dropout rate of 5.5 percent. This year, 74 percent of Sunrise Mountain's 578 seniors are currently not on track to graduate.

Last year, 58 percent of students were proficient in reading, 51 percent were proficient in writing and 48 percent were proficient in math.

Of the 39 graduates who enrolled at Nevada colleges last year, about a quarter required remedial classes.

• Wilhelm Elementary School has 539 students, about 95 percent of whom come from minority backgrounds. About 68 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Last year, 48 percent of students were proficient in reading, 27 percent were proficient in writing, 61 percent were proficient in math and 40 percent were proficient in science.

Since early December, academic managers and an external team of administrators have been conducting extensive teacher and principal interviews, classroom observations and test data analysis at 12 low-performing schools.

A school was considered for the turnaround if it had three consecutive years of low academic achievement and was designated as: 1) one star on the district's school rating system; 2) a two-star elementary/middle school and scored at or less than 45 on the 100-point school rating scale; 3) a two-star high school and scored at or less than 60 on the rating scale.

The three new turnaround schools will join the district's "turnaround zone," a group of nine low-performing schools targeted for additional support.

Schools already in the turnaround zone are: Canyon Springs High School, Kit Carson Elementary School, Chaparral High School, Hancock Elementary School, Mojave High School, O'Callaghan Middle School, Roundy Elementary School, Sunrise Acres Elementary School and Western High School.

The "turnaround" stems from several models of school improvement endorsed by the federal government. Last year, the School District received $8.7 million in federal School Improvement Grant money to overhaul Chaparral, Hancock, Mojave and Western.

The measures were drastic and transformative. These schools showed some progress after the first year of the three-year turnaround process. However, the federal grant money to do more turnarounds is running out.

Since federal funding may dry up, the School District is looking to do its own turnarounds.

Elementary schools could receive an additional $200,000; middle schools, $300,000; and high schools, $500,000. The money — which is not yet budgeted — could come from state education grant money or from other programs in the district.

The nine schools considered for the district's turnaround efforts but not selected for the turnaround will not be overhauled. However, some of those schools may receive additional supports, without any staff changes.

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  1. Turnaround schools are basically schools with poor performance, usually because the principle is incompetent/administration is incompetent/students are poor/school resources are severely lacking, in which the CCSD administration has decided that they are going to cover up their own failings by getting paid to screw over poor students.