Nevada received an overall “F” grade for education – again — according to the 2018 Nevada Children’s Report Card released this week by the Children’s Advocacy Alliance (CAA).
The key areas most in need of improvements, according to the report, are school readiness, student achievement, high school completion, and funding.
School Readiness: F-
Nevada is currently ranked 48th in the nation for preschool enrollment with about 37 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled. Preschool enrollment, availability, and spending per capita in Nevada is about $65.76, significantly below the national average of $955.22.
Children with disabilities, mental and behavioral health needs, and children of color are disproportionately impacted by the lack of quality early learning environments that are affordable and located within their neighborhoods., according to the report.
Student achievement: F
Nevada remains near the bottom for math and reading, 41st for math and 43rd for reading, respectively. Nevada ranks 50th overall for postsecondary participation, with just 41 percent of young adults enrolled in postsecondary education or with a degree.
Since 2005, the percentage of fourth-grade students in Nevada scoring below the proficient reading level has decreased significantly, however, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino children have the highest rates of non-proficiency. Asian/Pacific Islander descent have the lowest rate of non-proficiency at 55 percent.
A key factor in improving student achievement is increasing resources, including raising teacher pay, according to the report.
High school completion: F-
The report ranked Nevada 49th in students finishing high school. Nevada’s graduation rate in 2016 was 73.6 percent. The graduation rate nationally averaged 84.1 percent. Nevada’s graduation rate has improved in recent years, thought the report attributes improvement to less stringent graduation requirements.
Nevada’s per-pupil expenditures for the 2015-2016 fiscal year were $8,960 compared to $11,762 nationally. Nevada’s ranking of 43rd in this category is a slight increase from the previous report card rank of 46th.
Nevada’s low per-pupil expenditure continues to cause high student-teacher ratios, ranking the state 48th, according to the report.
Nevada has recently started to prioritize education spending. In the past two legislative sessions Nevada has increased categorical funding amounts, investing nearly $500 million more, and in 2017 Governor Brian Sandoval proposed and the Nevada State Legislature passed over 40 bills aimed at improving Nevada’s education system.
These included increased funding for high-quality early childhood education, a continuation of Victory and ZOOM schools, and revisions to the funding formula for public schools. However, the education system remains largely underfunded, according to the report.
Safty, health and economic security
Nevada also fared poorly for safety, health and economic security, according to the report card.
In overall children’s health Nevada received a “D” grade. Nevada ranked 47th in the nation for the percentage of children with health insurance. Eight percent of children have no health insurance, a decrease from 9.6 percent in the previous report card.
For economic well-being, the report gave Nevada an overall grade of “D”. In Nevada, 30 percent of children live in households where parents lack secure employment.
Safety received one of the better grades with an overall grade of “C-”. Nevada ranked 38th, 20th, and 32nd for physical, sexual and neglectful maltreatment, respectively. “In terms of homelessness, Nevada ranks 4th in the nation with the most vulnerable population of homeless youth, unaccompanied homeless youth, and 1st onsheltered unaccompanied youth.”
In 2017, Nevada had 2,166 unaccompanied homeless children and youth — or 232 per 10,000.