White Pine High School recently received its annual accountability report from the Nevada Department of Education. While the last decade of reports have been based on the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act, the most recent report reflects a revised system of reporting based upon the Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF). This framework is a more comprehensive set of standards that are designed to assess a school’s overall progress and growth, rather than NCLB’s focus only on test scores. The Nevada Department of Education states “High school ratings are based on student proficiency, subgroup performance gaps, growth, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and other indicators. For all schools, the NSPF will provide actionable feedback to schools and districts to help determine if current practices are aligned to improve educational outcomes for all students.”
The NSPF allows schools to earn points for their performance in the areas listed above. Based upon the point accumulations, schools then are assigned a number of stars (from one to five) to represent their overall performance.
WPHS earned four stars. Statewide, of the 149 high schools in Nevada, 31 earned four stars or better. The school earned 20 points in the category of Status/Growth, 9 points in Reduction of Achievement Gaps, 24 points in Graduation Measures, 6 points in College and Career Readiness, and 11 points in Other Indicators.
According to principal Adam Young, “I am pleased that we earned four stars. I think it reinforces the efforts and innovations that have taken place in the school. The school’s Leadership Team really charted a course that the staff has stuck with for a number of years. This data supports the efforts of the Leadership Team and of the staff. At this point, our sights are set on responding to the data to work for high levels of learning for each and every student. As we focus on this and continue moving forward, earning the five star designation will follow.”
A relative strength of the school’s data appeared in the Reduction in Achievement Gaps category. This data is obtained by comparing at risk populations (English Language Learners, Special Education students, etc.) with the general student body. This comparison shows that WPHS’s at risk students made up ground towards the standards and moved closer to their peer groups during the course of the school year.
A relative weakness in the school’s data appeared in the College and Career Readiness category. This data is obtained by looking at the number of students who pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams compared with the number of students who take the exams. It also considers the number of students earning college credit while still in high school, the number of advanced diplomas earned at graduation, and ACT participation. Young notes, “We are very committed to improving the College and Career Readiness of our students. Last school year, our Social Studies Team piloted a program that saw more than 40 students earn concurrent high school and college credit for US History 101 and Political Science 210. The students took the classes from Great Basin College but did it during school time and under the supervision of their high school teacher.
“This allowed for students to get a taste for online college learning and yet do it within the structured environment of high school. With the AP classes, going back four years ago, we didn’t even offer AP. While we definitely want more of our students to embrace the challenge of passing the exam, we are further ahead with this than we were a few years ago. Many small schools do not offer any AP courses.”
Interestingly, White Pine requires more credits for an Advanced Diploma than the rest of the state does. Students who earn an Advanced Diploma in White Pine must earn four Science credits where in the rest of the state they must only earn three.
More information on the Nevada School Performance Framework and WPHS’s performance can be found at http://nspf.doe.nv.gov. This designation is based on 2011-2012 data. The Department of Education is still compiling data for the 2012-2013 school year.