INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - The good news is that our education community has been busy this fall. The 2020 Vision process is focusing on making IV/CB a world-class "education destination" with outstanding learning opportunities pre-K through adult. Our new WCSD leaders introduced an extensive performance report at the Incline Data Summit on Oct. 24. Some community members submitted a proposal for an NV-sponsored K-12 charter school incorporating blended learning. Because the state doesn't currently recognize the proposed school's innovative approaches, it had to be withdrawn last week.As always, progress is a mixed bag. While this community seems to share the desire to provide excellent education for all ages and backgrounds, we don't yet have a clear plan - or consensus - on how to get there.As a charter could be revived next year - after more legislative lobbying - I am keenly interested to work with others who seek to strengthen the WCSD schools so that alternatives aren't needed to meet all students' needs.But first we have to answer some questions: Are our public schools already good enough, excellent or are changes needed? If so, how much?Here are highlights from the Incline Data Summit report to consider:• 51 percent of Incline 2nd graders are not currently "On Pathway" to reading success - compared to 36 percent district average (p. 35).• 52 percent of students are considered not on track with math proficiency growth between 4th and 8th grades (67 percent Hispanic, 39 percent White) (p. 56).• 45 percent of students are not on track with reading proficiency growth between 4th and 8th grades (67 percent Hispanic, 26 percent White) (p. 55).• 64 percent of MS students are at some risk of not graduating (including low, medium and high risk) - with 58 percent of Hispanic students are at high to moderate risk of not graduating (p. 29).• 42 percent of 10th graders failed the math proficiency exam - up from 26 percent in 2011 - with 79 percent of Hispanic students failing vs. 59 percent district average (p. 50).• 39 percent of 10th graders failed the reading proficiency exam - up from 12 percent in 2010 - with 71 percent of Hispanic students failing vs. 62 percent across district (p. 52).• 59 percent of the Hispanic student cohort did not graduate in June 2012 - compared to the district average of 44 percent - and compared to 48 percent in Incline the 2011 (p. 49).• 33 percent of all IHS students headed to UNR required remedial English or math classes (2011) (p. 64).• 50 percent of IHS students report being engaged in their learning (75 percent response rate) (p. 10).We could celebrate that Incline's combined graduation rate of 77 percent is higher than the district average of 69 percent; however, this is perhaps explained by the fact that we have much higher percent of white students (64 percent at IHS vs. 48 percent across district), much higher Gifted & Talented (GT) percent (23 percent at IHS vs. 5 percent across district), and much higher socio-economic status (12 percent of IHS students identify as low SES, compared to 44 percent across district (p. 6)). Such demographic differences readily explain Incline's higher AP completion rates, AP grades and SAT scores.What should concern us most is why Hispanic students in IV are performing below the district average and why students of both ethnicities have growth percentiles that are mediocre and declining compared to their peer groups across the district (p. 53, 54)? An excellent way to compare all the schools in the district and state is via Nevada DOE's Growth Model on-line charts: https://bighorn.doe.nv.gov/sites/NGMA/default.aspx.Why aren't Incline's schools found in the upper right quadrant where we expect them to be? As Dan Carne, our outgoing WCSD board trustee, described to me, the Incline community appears to think more highly of their schools than the data warrants.We could play the blame game or contest the validity of the data or the metrics. But I hope we don't waste our time in denial. Let's focus instead on how to help all students achieve their greatest learning growth and potential. Frankly, I've never seen a situation as full of potential as we have in this community of wise, caring and generous education supporters and advocates. If we decide to work collaboratively and constructively, there is no limit to what we can achieve.Stay tuned for next week's discussion: How can we help all students achieve their highest potentials?- Mary Alber is an Incline Village resident with two children in local schools and an advocate for 21st century learning opportunities. She holds a PhD in Transformative Learning and Change. She may be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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