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April 23, 2019

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Nevada students continue to struggle on national report card

Nevada students are still below the national average when it comes to reading and math, but they’re doing better after factoring in the state’s diversity.

That’s according to a trove of national education data released this week, the most significant being results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

NAEP scores — gathered through tests given to a sampling of the nation’s 4th and 8th graders every two years — are considered the best comparison of how each state’s students are doing in core subjects.

The NAEP is a project of the U.S. Department of Education.

Nevada’s performance in reading was stagnant in the 4th grade and dropped slightly in the 8th grade, compared to two years ago. In math, scores dropped slightly for both grades.

Nearly every state, however, posted scores at or below 2013 levels, when the NAEP was last conducted.

Overall, about 30 percent of Nevada’s 4th and 8th graders perform at grade-level in reading and math, well below the national average.

And although its scores have been trending upward since the 1990s, Nevada is still among the bottom 10 states.

“Unfortunately, Nevada’s scores on the Nation’s Report Card remain among the lowest in the nation,” interim state Superintendent Steve Canavero said in a statement. “However, the overall trend lines of Nevada NAEP results continue to rise and I am interested to see how Nevada’s 2015 scores compare with demographic adjustments.”

A report released Monday painted a slightly different picture of how states performed on this year’s NAEP.

According to the Urban Institute, Nevada is the most improved state when it comes to the NAEP since 2003.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after taking the 2013 NAEP scores and factoring in demographics. The NAEP doesn’t take into account the racial and economic makeup of a state, but research shows that low-income and non-English speaking students learn at a different pace on average than their mostly white, middle-class counterparts.

Nevada has a high percentage of low-income and minority students, the vast majority in Clark County.

According to the report, when adjusted for demographics, Nevada’s performance on the NAEP moves it up and out of the bottom 10 states.

Canavero noted Nevada’s swift change in demographics as one of the big obstacles for the state, and said the new education funds and programs approved in the Legislature would help boost student achievement.

“As we implement these important initiatives, I expect to see gains in student performance,” he said.

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