Nevada Schools Face Changing Population - 8 News NOW

Nevada Schools Face Changing Population

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LAS VEGAS -- Hispanics now make up the largest student group in the state of Nevada. This comes at a time when more than half of Nevada's public schools are failing national education standards, that according to a report released by the Nevada Department of Education.

Cashman Middle School is like many in Clark County School District where the majority of students are Hispanic. Nearly 39 percent of the state's students are Hispanic and that number is higher in Clark County.

ELL, or English Language Learner, is a common acronym in Nevada schools. Among CCSD's 310,000 students there are 146 different languages spoken making it a challenge for teachers and the district.

"We need to address the second language situation that usually takes more work and it takes several years to get the students to a level where they're beginning to be proficient in the English language," said Dr. Keith Rheault, state superintendent of schools.

Some teachers are finding creative ways to help their students.

"We were taking Rosetta Stone for Spanish and so we used it with the children, but I think in years past, they took it better when I spoke to them in Italian and they responded in Spanish," said teacher Janice Matarrese, Cortez Elementary School.

Language proficiency is one of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Currently, 55 percent of Nevada's 680 public schools do not meet the various requirements.

The Nevada Department of Education plans to implement the Nevada Growth model which will focus on student improvement from year to year rather than current proficiency. It has already launched in Clark County. Rheault says Nevada will be among the states that apply to use this measurement versus the No Child Left Behind Act.

One interesting note is that for the fourth year in a row, the state's transience rate has gone down meaning more kids are staying in their schools longer which will help the state better track progress.

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