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April 19, 2015

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Report doesn’t foresee Nevada graduation rates meeting national average anytime soon


Leila Navidi

Boys line up backstage during the Chaparral High School commencement ceremony at the Orleans Arena on Friday, June 15, 2012.

Nevada is unlikely to increase its graduation rate to the national average over the next decade, according to a federal report released this month.

The Silver State produced 23,493 public high school graduates during the 2010-11 school year, which represented a graduation rate of 62 percent — the lowest in the nation.

A new report by the National Center for Education Statistics estimates Nevada's graduation rate won't make the national average anytime soon.

It's not for a lack of effort. The number of high school graduates in Nevada surged nearly 31 percent between the 2003-04 and 2008-09 school years, and the U.S. Education Department is anticipating similar growth over the next decade.

By the 2021-22 school year, Nevada is projected to produce 26,380 graduates, according to the federal Projections of Education Statistics to 2021 report. That means Nevada's graduation rate will improve to about 70 percent – up from the current 62 percent.

However, Nevada still will be well short of the 30,313 graduates it needs to reach an 80 percent graduation rate, a goal set by Jim Guthrie, Nevada public schools superintendent. Currently, the average graduation rate nationally is 75.5 percent.

The challenge of improving Nevada's graduation rate will be compounded by the fact that the Silver State will likely face a continuing influx of students.

Nevada is projected to have about 528,000 public school students in 2021, up from 439,277 students last school year, according to the report.

That means Nevada's student population will shoot up 20 percent over the next eight years. For comparison, public school enrollment nationally will grow only by 7 percent between 2010 and 2021, according to the report.

Much of this growth will come from the rising Asian and Hispanic student populations, both of which are expected to jump by about 25 percent between 2010 and 2021 nationally, according to the report.

The number of black students is expected to go up about 5 percent, while the number of white students is projected to decline by about 2 percent nationally. The number of multiracial students will surge by 34 percent, according to the report.

Here are some other key findings from the federal report:

• There were 55 million K-12 students in American public and private schools in 2010, which represented a 6 percent increase from 1996. Most of the growth was in public schools; private school enrollment fell 9 percent over the same period.

• The West is expected to have the largest student growth over the next decade: a 13 percent increase. The South is projected to see a 9 percent increase, while the North and Midwest will experience a 2 percent increase.

• The number of high school graduates nationally increased by 29 percent between 1996-97 and 2008-09 school years. This figure is projected to increase by 5 percent leading up to the 2021-22 school year.

• The number of public schoolteachers nationally grew 20 percent between 1996 and 2010. This figure is projected to grow about 15 percent leading up to 2021.

• The student-teacher ratio nationally fell from 17:1 to 15:1 between 1996 and 2010. This figure is projected to decrease by 14.4 percent by 2021.

• New teacher hires are expected to swell from 301,000 in 2010 to 384,000 teachers in 2021, an increase of about 28 percent.

• Public school spending nationally is expected to rise 24 percent between the 2008-09 and 2021-22 school years, which is a significantly lower growth rate than the 42 percent increase over the past 12 years.

• The average per-pupil spending is projected around $12,530 during the 2021-22 school year, a 15 percent increase from the 2008-09 school year. Currently, Clark County spends about $8,252 per student.

• College enrollment, which has leapt 46 percent between 1996 and 2010, is projected to slow its pace to 15 percent from 2010 to 2021. The federal government anticipates 24 million college students in 2021.

• Over the next decade, colleges are expected to confer a record-high number of degrees at all levels. Furthermore, for the first time in history, colleges are expected to produce more female than male doctoral graduates.

• Over the last two decades, the number of female college students has outpaced the number of male college students. The federal government expects this gender gap in student enrollment to widen over the next decade.

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  1. In all honesty, the graduation rate can be easily fixed.

    Most students are poorly informed and receive next to no guidance.

    The school needs to engage these students - directly. Help snap them out of their childish corrupt mentality.

    So many of our youth are caught up with this fantasy life style and consider school to be "uncool."

    A key component is to ensure schools provide labs for students seeking additional help with Math, Science or English.

  2. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  3. Let's talk about two other key items that the article doesn't:

    - How does Nevada compare to the national average when it come to English as a Second Language (ESL) students? I have to imagine that the graduation rates aren't terribly high in these cases.

    - Nevada requires passing scores in the proficiency exams, where many states do not have similar requirements. If Nevada didn't have these requirements, how would their graduation rate compare?

    My point being just comparing Nevada to the national rate isn't exactly a fair comparison.

  4. But just keep passing those kids on, CCSD. If they aren't prepared for their classes, that's the teacher's problem! Why go to all the trouble and expense of providing instruction at the appropriate level when you can just blame the teacher when a kid at third grade level in an eighth grade math class or a foreign language speaker who's been in the country a couple of years can't pass a standardized test? Dump the problem on the teachers, then blame the teachers! It works! Teachers are great scapegoats! Who cares if the kids graduate, as long as the education bureaucrats keep their jobs and some delusional parents can pretend their kids are functioning at grade level?

    And for those who don't yet get how it works, let me enlighten you: many teachers would hold back far more students if they were allowed to. Some who do fail kids have their grades overturned by administrators. The way it works now, many students just fall farther and farther behind because they can't handle the work because they're not prepared for it.

  5. Education is the first step out of a life of poverty. If you handicap yourself by dropping out at 16 you will handicap yourself for life. Stay in school, graduate and go to trade school if you can't or don't want to go to college for 4 years.

    These abysmal rates are more about parenting and upbringing than they are about the school system.

  6. And why again are we paying teachers more than Arizona? Arizona gets GRADUATES who can read and write for $1,000 per student per year LESS and they have very similar demographics to Nevada. STOP over-funding K-12 and demand performance. We know there are too many administrators falling all over each other and coming up with policies that don't work. LEGISLATURE: End CSR and allow the SD's to determine class sizes--stop short-loading K-4 while high school class sizes suffer. Sure Kindergarten should be smaller class size. But let grades 1-4 creep up in numbers--might even make student transition into middle school less of an issue.

  7. Brian: Let's use some logic here. Arizona has at least as much ELL as Nevada yet Arizona GETS RESULTS for mega-millions less than we spend on K-12.

  8. Great posts, Commenters!

    We need to narrow down the reasons as to why children are NOT performing in our schools. Projections are that many of these non-English speaking families are moving to Nevada to escape what they view as oppressive laws and policies in other states. This will NOT help Nevada make any positive graduation gains. Precious little, if anything is being done to address children coming into our public schools prepared and well supported at the home/family levels. Now we have "Turnaround Schools" towards attempting to stem the negative tide that hinders children from graduation, but it is NOT comprehensive, nor preventative.

    Again, preventive medicine for our ailing, low performing schools has to include treatment at the root, "the very heart of the problem for low performing schools is the involvement and active participation factor of parents of low performing students. We continue to do everything BUT address this need with a comprehensive program to route both parent and their low performing child for focused, intensive help." Every good gardener knows that you must attack the roots of problem weeds in order to erradicate the problem. To see positive change, we must be will to go there (and do that!).

    Currently, most schools are top heavy, increasingly, the teachers having to do more with less. The last round of "school improvements" went towards hiring Learning/Instructional Strategists and Coaches, who are being used by district Principals to do administrative tasks instead of being available to help in the needy classrooms. So teachers wonder, "Where are they, these Coaches and Learning/Instructional Strategists (who are paid MORE and are supposed to be there at the school to help/support them, yet are most always out attending trainings and meetings)?" That is the reality of how it is all working out so far. Will the Taxpayers be satisfied with this once they learn of it?

    We need students coming to school ready to learn, having a goal/purpose to work towards, and the cooperation and support of their home family in doing so. Until that happens, little else CAN happen. The analogy is leading a horse to water, but you cannot MAKE him drink. So it is with our students. The school district cannot continue to cut school psychologists and counselors, who are vital in servicing students. Instead of another vice pricipal, let's assure the school is receiving adequate support in these areas (and please don't use these professionals to perform non-related duties).

    There has to be a balance in the use of the district's human resources. Any imbalance only creates deficiencies in needed and necessary services for our students.

    Blessings and Peace,

  9. The grammatical error in the caption ("The boy line up backstage...") is a rather telling irony.

    The abysmal graduation rate reflects the utter disdain shown by the actions of this community in regards to the education of its youth. There is simply no reason for the most powerful economic actors in this state to put their money on the line to improve the quality of public education, and as yet the libertarian streak in our politics shows no sign of abating, so I see little reason for optimism.

    A link to the report itself would be nice, moreover.