LAS VEGAS (AP) — For the first time in four years, Nevada is not last in the nation in a public education ranking. It moved up to next-to-last.
Education Week’s latest Quality Counts report card, issued Tuesday, ranked the Silver State 50th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. New Mexico now ranks 51st.
The state Department of Education celebrated the small improvement with a news release in which Nevada state schools Superintendent Jhone Ebert called it a step in the right direction.
“We set a goal to become the fastest-improving state in the nation,” Ebert said. “We are in no way satisfied, and we know we have a long way to go.”
The report said Nevada made the largest gain of any state, improving 1.8 percentage points to a score of 66.9. The District of Columbia improved 1.6 points, and California 1.5 points.
Nevada’s overall grade was D-plus, while the nation as a whole averaged 75.6 points and a C grade.
Nevada’s improvement included gains in K-12 achievement, which relies primarily on scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The state ranked 35th in this category, up from 40th place last year. It scored a D-plus.
The rating is broken down into three categories: chance for success, school finance and K-12 achievement.
Proficiency rates in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math all improved in Nevada, but still remained below 31%.
The chance-for-success category relies on local demographics and academic data such as family income, the education of parents and kindergarten enrollment. It scored a C-minus.
School finance focused on 2016 data that state officials say does not take into account recent funding initiatives from the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions. It scored a D-minus.
For the second year in a row, Nevada ranks 48th out of 49 states in school financing, with an adjusted 2016 per-pupil expenditure amount of $9,185. That’s a little more than half of Wyoming’s $18,090.
“With education policy changes in place and additional investment in education in recent legislative sessions, I’m confident that our teachers will continue to expand opportunities and improve outcomes for all of Nevada’s students,” Ebert said.