NCLB to be more complicated

For the first time in Nevada, test scores from the fourth, sixth and seventh grades will be used along with third-, fifth- and eighth-grade tests to calculate the federal No Child Left Behind designations for the 2005-06 school year.

A Carson City School District official does not think the addition of more test scores for tallying designations will have an affect on district's results.

Under the act, schools strive to make "adequate yearly progress." Failure to do so means being labeled "in need of improvement." Designations mean different things to different schools, depending on how many years a school needs improvement. The worst penalty is the state government can take over operation of the school.

The change could affect smaller districts that might see an increase in the number of categories on which they are marked. But Mike Watty, associate superintendent of educational services, said the district is already marked in many of those categories.

The 2005-06 school year was the first time students received the reading and math tests at the new grade levels. Students took pilot tests in previous years.

Results on the third-, fifth- and eighth-grade tests were released in June. Scores for the other grade levels are expected at any time.

The state Department of Education met with federal officials last week to discuss the inclusion of the additional tests.

The state wanted to wait one more year for inclusion because passing scores will not be finalized until the first week of August - days after the Aug. 1 date that NCLB designations are due.

"The U.S. Department of Education said the (test scores) needed to be included this year," said Dr. Keith Rheault, state superintendent of schools. "We thought there was room for argumentation."

As a result, two sets of designations will be released - the first based on the traditional test scores, and the second on all test scores.

"I think (the variations between the two results) is going to be small, but it would be grounds for an appeal (of a designation) in the first year," Rheault said.

Of the results already released, students showed the largest decrease in proficiency on the fifth-grade reading test. But statewide results also showed similar decreases, according to Watty.

"You have to wonder if this was a tougher test," he said.

Science test scores will not begin to count for NCLB designations - and for graduation - until the 2008-09 school year.

Proficiency requirements, which jumped in the 2004-05 school year, will remain the same through the '05-06 and '06-07 years, and increase again in '07-08.

In '13-14, 100 percent of students must pass all state tests for a school to make adequate yearly progress.

• Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.


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