An update on changes in education
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 4:00 PM
LOVELOCK - Many changes are taking place in the educational arena at the state and federal levels, which will have significant effects locally.
This article will identify some of these changes and give you an indication of the district's direction.
On Jan. 8, 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and became the country's federal educational guideline.
Under this program the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) rating system was in place. There were some 45 elements that were taken into consideration to determine if a school was meeting its AYP. School designations included: High Achieving (which could be Exemplary as well); Adequate; Watch; or In Need of Improvement Year 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, and possibly on Hold for Year 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Due to Congress's inability to reauthorize ESEA and change this legislation, it has remained in place for over a decade despite the need for change. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education took administrative action to allow for waivers under the NCLB regulations whereupon a majority of states were granted some flexibility.
Nevada was one of those states and now has in place the Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF). This new set of stipulations appears to be an experiment in motion.
Under the NSPF, the Nevada Stars program is in place. Each school is issued one to five stars on a point attribution rubric. The school's performance index score is computed 45 possible ways to earn points at the elementary and middle school levels and 130 ways at the high school level.
This ranking system is designed so a majority of the schools will be three stars or below. Additional information on this can be obtained at the Nevada Department of Education's website: http://nspf.doe.nv.gov.
The earning of stars for a school is largely based on testing, which is undergoing alteration, too. New assessment tools are in the process of being developed and will be replacing the instruments currently being utilized. Smarter Balanced (www.smarterbalanced.org) will take the place of Criterion Referenced Tests (CRTs), while the current Writing Assessment will be folded into Smarter Balanced (SB), and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) will be replaced with End of Course Exams (EOCE).
During this transition period, some schools are undertaking a Validation Study while others are involved with a Field Test, and the remainder are maintaining their status quo.
Regardless, the new assessments are targeted to take place during the 2014-2015 school year, and there will be an overlap of assessments for current high school students and incoming freshmen.
Along with the new assessments are a new set of standards. the Nevada State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in October 2010.
The Common Core State Standards evolved through a state-led effort to develop high standards that are consistent across states and will ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared for college-level content and careers.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not a national mandate or a national curriculum. Rather, they are a set of standards to be achieved by students through the district's curriculum. Additional information about the CCSS can be found at: www.corestandards.org.
All of our staff members are working diligently to prepare for these changes and position themselves to meet the ever increasing diverse needs of all students.
Dan Fox is superintendent of the Pershing County School District.