Nevada test scores show some recovery from pandemic losses, but still lag

By: - September 20, 2022 6:00 am

New standardized test results suggest Nevada students are rebounding from learning losses acquired at the onset of the pandemic, but proficiency is still well below pre-pandemic levels.

The Nevada Department of Education on Monday released the 2021-22 performance results for the Smarter Balanced assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. These tests are given nationwide to third through eighth graders.

Statewide, 29.8% of Nevada students are proficient in math. That’s an increase of 3.5 percentage points from the 2020-21 school year, but still 7.7 percentage points below the pre-pandemic 37.5% proficiency rate recorded during the 2018-19 school year.

Similarly, 43.7% of Nevada students are proficient in ELA. That’s an increase of 2.3 percentage points from the 2020-21 school year, but still 4.8 percentage points below the pre-pandemic proficiency rate of 48.5%.

The Smarter Balanced standardized tests (commonly known as SBACs) were not given during the 2019-20 school year, which for most students was abruptly cut short. The assessments were given during the 2020-21 school year; however, a federal requirement that 95% of student participate was waived and fewer students took the assessment. Because of that, education officials have cautioned against comparing 2020-21 results with other years.

Eight Nevada districts, as well as the collection of schools under the direction of the State Public Charter School Authority, recorded gains in both ELA and math proficiency. Lincoln County School District saw the biggest gains in ELA compared to the previous year — 5.3 percentage points, bringing their proficiency to 51.1%. SPCSA schools recorded the biggest gains in math compared to the previous year — 5.8 percentage points, bringing their proficiency to 42.2%.

Clark County School District’s ELA proficiency was 41.2% — a 4.1 percentage point gain from the previous school year, but still 7.7 percentage points below its 2018-19 proficiency rate of 48.3%. CCSD’s math proficiency rate was 26.4% — a 5.1 percentage point improvement over the previous year, but still 10.2 percentage points below the 36.6% proficiency rate in 2018-19.

“We are pleased to see that Nevada’s statewide proficiency rate in both ELA and Math have shown an increase from the 2020-21 school year,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert in a press release. “This demonstrates that the tremendous efforts made by our educators are having a positive impact on student outcomes. These results are moving in the right direction, and we need to invest and accelerate what is working.”

Full results from the statewide assessment can be found at nevadareportcard.nv.gov.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, three children and one mutt.