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WalletHub Study: Nevada's Schools Aren't As Bad As Some Say, But Still Aren't Great

forbuss_lunchroom.jpg

Eric Westervelt/NPR

Forbuss Elementary School in the valley's southwest side.

Nevada's schools are not the best.

Recent data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation put Nevada's public education system as next to last in the country in terms of quality.

But a new study from WalletHub, though, says we may be slightly better off.

The firm ranks Nevada as having the 44th best public schools in the country.

What went into their rankings?

Jill Gonzalez with WalletHub said they looked at 17 different metrics across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The metrics included student to teacher ratio, average SAT or ACT score, dropout rate as well as safe school measurements like bullying and cyberbullying.

One of the biggest problems for Nevada's scores is the dropout rate: the state ranks 49th out of 51. Gonzalez said the Nevada could look to Florida and California for a solution to that problem.

Both of those states have invested in remote and online learning, especially for high school students.

“Because of that, a lot of people are not dropping out," she said, "They’re staying in school even if that means they’re not going to a physical classroom. That is one area where Nevada could definitely improve."

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Nevada has four online public schools while Florida has 40.

Another place where Nevada could improve is teacher-to-student ratio. Gonzalez said the ratio in states like New Jersey and New York is 12 to 13 students to one teacher.

She said multiple studies show more one-on-one interaction between teacher and student improves student success. Nevada has one of the highest ratios in the country, Gonzalez said.

A tax increase approved by the Legislature in 2015 and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval aims to improve education in Nevada. Gonzalez said it reforming the education system isnot only about improving education spending but making sure that money goes to something specific.

“It doesn’t really come down to your per pupil budget -- it has to do with how efficiently you’re spending that budget,” she said. “Whatever part of your school system is suffering or is not really up to par, that’s where that money needs to be spent.”

The extra money approved by lawmakers for Nevada schools is going to several targeted programs, including Victory Schools, which are schools that serve low-income neighborhoods, and English language learner programs at Zoom Schools.  

Guests

Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub