81°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

BC schools by the numbers, not the hype

Boulder City residents like to pride themselves on the quality of the four public schools compared with the rest of the Clark County School District. You might say considering all the problems with the district, bragging about how good the schools are here comparatively is like bragging about having the tallest building in Topeka, Kan. Not really a strong pool to compare with.

On Friday, the Nevada Education Department released its rating system of the district’s schools, replacing the school district’s self-created star system that some critics called too school friendly that didn’t truly reflect the school’s achievement.

Under the district’s system, nearly half its schools received four- or five-star ratings. That didn’t really match up with the district’s 61 percent graduation rate. The basic difference between the state and district’s systems was the weight given to schools’ scores for showing improvement. Western High in Las Vegas received four out of five stars from the district although only 55 percent of its students graduated, only 5 percent pass rate on its Algebra I final exam and one-third pass rate for sophomores on a reading test.

The state bumped them down to the more reflective two-star school.

So where did Boulder City schools flush out for the school year 2011-12? Let’s start at the top, five-star school Elton M. Garrett Junior High. Garrett scored well above the baseline for a five-star school, and was one of only 12 out of 65 rated middle schools to achieve the ranking. This gives Garrett, led by Principal Jamey Hood, autonomy in school planning and decision-making.

The students outperformed the state on math and reading scores, with a higher percentage of students at or above proficiency in reading, math, writing and science when compared with the district or the state. The school scored an 86 percent proficiency in math, 18 points higher than the district and 17 points higher than the state.

Although Garrett maintained its highest rating, Boulder City High did not. A five-star rated school under the district’s system, the high school fell to a four-star rating. I say “fell” because it was only 1.5 points away from being a three-star school. But it is important to remember that it is still a high-performing school.

Like with Garrett, students outperformed the state on math and reading scores, with a higher percentage of students at or above proficiency in reading, math, writing and science when compared with the district or the state. The school’s graduation rate of 82.6 percent is well above the state’s rate.

In Boulder City’s defense, the only high schools that maintained five-star ratings have the word “Technical” or “College” or “Academy” in its name. Only five high schools maintained four-star ratings.

Martha P. King Elementary, which had received four stars from the district, slipped to three stars under that state. They missed the four-star ranking by one point.

In proficiency, the school outpaced the district in reading, math and science, but only achieved a 36 percent in writing, below the district and state’s 45 percent.

Andrew J. Mitchell Elementary, which is kindergarten through second, was not rated because of its “unique configuration.”

The danger of rating systems is trying to give a measured performance to individual needs. By almost all measures, students on this hill are in a better situation than their contemporaries in the valley.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Smoking ban defeated without a vote

There may not have been a vote on the proposed smoking ban by the City Council on Tuesday night, but the defeat for the bill’s supporters was no less resounding.

Dotty’s purchase of Hacienda good for BC

It’s all about connectivity and deep player databases in the casino world, and the Hacienda did not have much of either as a stand-alone property.

A memorable three years overseeing the paper

This issue marks my three-year anniversary as editor of the Boulder City Review. It has been such an honor and a privilege to be the editor of the newspaper as it has tried to find its footing in your community.

All the praise and scorn could be yours

Call this a help-wanted ad; I would prefer to call it an opportunity. An opportunity for your voice to be heard beyond the loud continued noise of discourse.

Protecting businesses when bypass opens

State transportation officials told the City Council on Tuesday that the Boulder City bypass could open by late 2017.

Maybe drones could pay for new high school

I’ve got an idea to get the kids of Boulder City a new high school that’s crazy enough it might just be feasible.

Smoke ’em while you can because ban looms

A smoking ban ordinance that would prohibit lighting up in Boulder City’s “enclosed spaces” businesses was reintroduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting with little discussion.

Criticism of police response surprising

A police response Friday that drew six squad cars to McDonald’s on Nevada Highway drew surprising, to me anyway, mean-spirited attacked on the boys in blue on this newspaper’s Facebook page.