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Mixed results for Vegas schools

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Union Elementary gets an A; Paul D. drops 2 grades

By Martin Salazar

School grades released by the state Public Education Department Thursday morning contain both good and bad news for Las Vegas-area schools.

The best-performing school in both the West Las Vegas and Las Vegas City Schools districts, by far, was Union Elementary.

That is the only Las Vegas-area school receiving an A. But even more impressive, the report card shows that 72.9 percent of its students scored proficient or better in reading, while 81.4 percent of its students scored proficient or better in math, far exceeding the proficiency levels of all other Las Vegas-area schools.

Four of West Las Vegas’ elementary schools improved by one letter grade. Union Elementary wen from a B in 2013 to an A this year. Don Cecilio, Luis Armijo and Tony Serna all improved from Cs to Bs.

But it wasn’t all good news at West. Valley Elementary,  Valley Middle and West Las Vegas Middle dropped from Ds in 2013 to Fs this year. West Las Vegas High School, earned a B last year, was given a C this year.

West Las Vegas Family Partnership dropped from a C in 2013 to a D this year. There was no grade change at Rio Gallinas, which received Fs both last year and this year.

At Las Vegas City Schools, meanwhile, the only school improving its letter grade was Sierra Vista. That school managed to raise its grade from an F in 2013 to a C this year.

Paul D. Henry Elementary, however, dropped two letter grades, from a B in 2013 to a D this year. The Early Childhood Center also dropped from a C last year to a D.

It’s worth noting that while Paul D dropped two letter grades, that school actually posted the highest reading proficiency rates in the district, with 64.6 percent of its students scoring proficient or above in reading. Paul D had the district’s third highest proficiency rate in math, with 40 percent of its students scoring proficient or above.

Paul D. Henry went down two letter grades because it failed to show growth schoolwide over the last three years, and because it failed to show growth of both its highest-performing students and its lowest-performing students.

Robertson High School, meanwhile, held on to its B grade. One of the reasons Robertson did so well is because it was able to show growth among its highest- and lowest-performing students.

Legion Park and Mike (Mateo) Sena elementaries kept the C grades they received last year. Los Niños Elementary and Memorial Middle School received Ds, which is the same grade they received last year.

Statewide, nearly three out of four schools either maintained or improved their school grade between 2013 and 2014.

“School grades are an important tool that education leaders, community leaders and parents can use to identify where students are struggling and intervene in a targeted way to help them,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a news release announcing the grades. “Last year, we saw record increases and growth at the high school level — spurred by improvement in reading and graduation rates, and this year, I’m encouraged to see elementary schools showing progress, based largely on growth among our struggling students.”

The state education department also revealed that across all grades, the 2014 SBA results showed a slight decline in the number of students rated proficient or better by 1.2 percentage points in math and 1.6 percentage points in reading.

PED attributes the decline to a drop in scores among the 25 percent of students who participated in a pilot program that allowed them to take the Standards Based Assessment exam on a computer for the first time.