Nevada superintendent: Report makes Nevada look worse than deserved |

Nevada superintendent: Report makes Nevada look worse than deserved

Geoff Dornan
Tribune Capitol Bureau

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada Superintendent of Education Keith Rheault says a recent report published in Education Week paints a much more negative picture of Nevada’s high school graduation rate than deserved.

According to Education Week, Nevada graduated just 41.8 percent of the students who were in school as ninth graders – a percentage that put the state 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. The next worst state, New Mexico, was 13 percent higher.

The report issued a week ago was developed using what Rheault described as “in Nevada, probably the worst hypothetical graduation rate formula you can use.”

He said he wasn’t defending Nevada’s actual graduation rate – which needs to be greatly improved – but the formula used to develop that report skews the rate downward dramatically.

First, he said, it doesn’t take into account the significant number of students who transfer to other jurisdictions – and Nevada has a high transient rate. He said it counts special education students entering ninth grade but doesn’t count them as graduating even if they are awarded an adjusted diploma. He said it also ignores those who get a GED or an adult diploma, only counting regular and advanced diplomas.

“Even though it looks like half the kids aren’t getting anything, we know they are,” Rheault said.

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He said the numbers were made to look even worse by a reporting requirement which has since been changed. In 2007, the rule was that ninth-graders with less than five credits toward graduation were still counted as ninth-graders even though they moved on to 10th grade. As a result, the 41,299 ninth-graders reported that year dropped to just 33,875 10th graders – making it appear as though nearly 7,500 students had dropped out.

When those factors are taken into consideration, Rheault said the adjusted graduation rate for Nevada’s 2007 school year is 67.5 percent.

“We still, no matter what formula, would have been near the bottom – particularly Clark County. But from our end, that’s a much more accurate formula, more reflective of what the graduation rate was in 2007,” he said.