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State, school district agree on new framework
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jun 13, 2013 | 1098 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo -- Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez unveils the star-ranking Performance Framework for WCSD during his State of Education Address in January. The Nevada Department of Education revealed its Schools Performance Framework last week with all Sparks-area schools receiving three stars or higher.
Tribune file photo -- Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez unveils the star-ranking Performance Framework for WCSD during his State of Education Address in January. The Nevada Department of Education revealed its Schools Performance Framework last week with all Sparks-area schools receiving three stars or higher.
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SPARKS -- As expected, the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) revealed its new Nevada School Performance Framework and it's similar to the one the Washoe County School District instituted in January during its State of Education Address.

The NDE “officially marked the end” of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) system of measuring school performance a week ago by moving to the star-ranking system WCSD has been working with for the first part of the year.

“For elementary and middle schools, star ratings in the NSPF are based on student growth, proficiency, subgroup performance gaps, and average daily attendance,” the NDE states on its website. “High school ratings are based on student proficiency, subgroup performance gaps, growth, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and other indicators. For all schools, the NSPF will provide actionable feedback to schools and districts to help determine if current practices are aligned to improve educational outcomes for all students.”

The WCSD, however, developed a few extra initiatives in its Performance Framework, catering specifically to its goals and school climate. Ben Hayes, Director of Research and Evaluation for WCSD, said Thursday those extra initiatives, including science, growth-to-college-readiness levels, achievement gaps among racial and ethnic populations, and family engagement, play a vital role in local schools finding success and the tools to continue serving children.

“We want them to have options after graduation,” Hayes said. “So by continually moving up to the next level, getting more rigorous material and building the pathways, we help make sure in high school they can access the curriculum and move on to advanced classes. We strongly believe that science is a big power trade and moving into the next century we need to be paying attention to science and technical issues.

“It doesn't tell the whole story yet, but the better measures we can put in, the better we can support schools. Our design is all about getting kids up our pathway to cross that graduation stage with options. It will evolve in the future when we can get good, strong, credential metrics that will help us support our schools.”

Hayes said the AYP system was able to track schools closely, but the development of data compilation allows the school district more comprehensive tracking systems that will measure growth consistently and help identify which areas of improvement should be most closely targeted.

“The main thing I would say is the AYP system kind of outgrew itself and it never told a good data story on how to support schools,” Hayes said. “When we put in things like growth models, more tests, climate and family engagement, it tells a more accurate model of how we can support schools.

“Proficiency is incredibly important and we have done studies in the district to show that that is a good indicator of where a child is on track to graduation. Proficiency still makes up a huge portion of the state and local framework but now that we can add in growth, it just helps tell the story.”

Hayes said the state’s rankings and overview were not a surprise to his team when it was announced. He said WCSD’s framework was largely based on the ideas of the state, though it was unveiled first.

“We have a great working relationship with the state,” Hayes said. “So we kind of projected long ago that this is what it would be and we were right on. The state has been working with us all along, and all the districts across the state.”

Sparks-area schools receiving a five-star ranking from the NDE included Diedrichsen, Taylor, Van Gorder, Whitehead and Maxwell Elementary schools. Four-star schools include Shaw Middle, Beasley, Hall, Juniper, Sepulveda and Kate Smith Elementary schools. The remaining Sparks schools all scored three stars from the state.

“I encourage people to glance at the star rating because it kind of gives us a quick, five-second piece of context, but the more important thing is to dig into the data,” Hayes said. “The way we, and the state, have built these profiles, it really does tell a data story.”

Hayes said dissecting the information provided in the star rankings, which can be found at www.doe.nv.gov, provides a clear idea of what is working and what is not. He said the further you analyze the schools rating, the easier it is to find the resources needed for improvement.

“Once you look at the data and talk to the educators at those schools, you can find out how you can support those kids,” Hayes said. “That is what we are really trying to push for in the district. In terms of motivation, I think all of our teachers and all of our principals have embraced accountability over the last several years and they are already motivated.

“What we need to do is move away from accountability as a labeling mechanism and move into a support mechanism. We really can’t just look at the stars we need to look at the data, we need to look at what is going on in those schools and how we can help them.”
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