School star ratings drop after framework change

School star ratings drop after framework change

School star ratings drop after framework change

The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) released the new Nevada School Proficiency Framework (NSPF) and updated star ratings for elementary and middle schools on Saturday.

Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction, said, “The updated NSPF reflects the starting line on our path to becoming the fastest improving state in the nation while taking a holistic approach to measuring school performance against high expectations.”

As a result of the higher expectations, star ratings dropped all over the state. Humboldt County was no exception.

The NDE released the last star ratings in 2015. Humboldt County School District (HCSD) had one five-star school (Grass Valley Elementary) and a single one-star school (McDermitt Elementary). Under the new framework, HCSD now has three one-star schools and no five-star schools.

The NDE changed the framework due to requirements of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The previous NSPF was based on the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act. Comparing star ratings from 2015 and 2017 is complicated because the standards have changed.

HCSD Superintendent Dave Jensen called the change a “big shift to the left.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness explained to the HCSD Board of Trustees just how the NDE determined these scores. Star ratings for 2017 were released to the public on Dec. 16.


Schools receive a score of zero to 100 points. The score is made up of points earned in five School Performance categories. For elementary and middle schools, these categories include Academic Achievement, Growth, English Language Proficiency, Opportunity Gaps and Student Engagement. High school components include Academic Achievement, Graduation Rates, English Language Proficiency, College and Career Readiness and Student Engagement.

How are these categories measured?

Academic Achievement is measured by the percentage of students who meet state standards in math, English language arts and science. In an elementary school, the percentage of third grade students who can read at third grade level also contributes to the Academic Achievement score.

The Growth category looks at how the number of students in a school who reach proficiency (subject mastery) increases over time to meet the state’s goals for 2022. This category also takes into account the percentage of students who do not reach mastery, but who make an acceptable amount of improvement.

In an elementary school, for example, this category looks at fourth grade students who attended the same school for third grade. Schools received points based on the percentage of students who showed an acceptable amount of improvement between those grades.

The percentage of students who continue to meet standards year after year counts as well.

The English Language Proficiency component refers to the number of English Language Learners who make an acceptable amount of improvement toward English mastery.

Opportunity Gaps are the ways that factors like English language mastery, socioeconomic status and family situations affect student learning. Schools receive points if they help students who face these kinds of factors make an acceptable amount of academic improvement.

For elementary schools, the Student Engagement category refers mostly to attendance. A student who misses 10 percent of the days he or she is enrolled is considered chronically absent. For example, if a student is enrolled for the full 180 days in a school year, missing 18 school days is considered being chronically absent. Excused, unexcused and disciplinary absences all count toward that number, but school trips do not.

Attendance becomes a sticky issue in high school. HCSD’s policy is to mark a student absent if he or she is more than 10 minutes late for class. Other districts mark students absent after as long as 30 minutes. Extending the amount of time before a student is considered absent would decrease the number of absences and raise Student Engagement points. Hagness said HCSD would need to look into how other districts in the state address tardiness and absences in high school classrooms.

Graduation rates affect points for high schools, as well as the number of students who receive a score of 22 or above on the ACT (American College Test). The state requires all students to take the ACT in 11th grade.

Middle and high schools receive points in the Student Engagement category if a certain percentage of students submits an Academic Learning Plan signed by the student and a parent. Academic Learning Plans guide students toward their academic goals, such as Advanced Placement, vocational paths and the standard diploma. The percentage of students who are on track to graduate also figures in the points awarded in this category.

HCSD 2017 star ratings

Paradise Valley Elementary School – 2 stars

Sonoma Heights Elementary School – 1 star

Winnemucca Grammar School – 4 stars

McDermitt Elementary School – 1 star

Grass Valley Elementary School – 4 stars

French Ford Middle School – 1 star

Winnemucca Junior High School – 2 stars

Lowry High School, McDermitt High School and Leighton Hall High School did not receive star ratings this year. High schools didn’t receive star ratings this year, but they did receive index scores. The NDE is currently working on the high school star rating breakdown.

Several HCSD schools did not receive star ratings because there weren’t enough students enrolled. These include the schools in Denio, King’s River and Orovada, Paradise Valley Middle School and Leighton Hall Middle School.

Though most HCSD schools’ star ratings dropped this year, Grass Valley Elementary School’s score improved from three to four stars.

The NDE expects to release scores for elementary, middle and high schools in Sept. 2018.