Douglas County schools enrollment down to 6,120 |

Douglas County schools enrollment down to 6,120

Kurt Hildebrand

Douglas County schools are four students and two five-star schools shy of last year, according to data released this week.

The unofficial number of students on Friday’s count day was 6,120, down from 6,124 students last year.

“I’ve been checking for the last few weeks and it felt like we’d leveled off,” Superintendent Lisa Noonan said.

Count day is a critical component of Nevada’s funding for public schools.

State financial support is based on the number of students who are in school on one day in September.

“It’s important to our funding system,” she said. “It’s all tied to the number of students who come in on this one day. It’s a very high stakes attendance model.”

She said that contrasts with California, which bases support on the average number of students through the school year.

“It’s not as high maintenance,” she said. “Registrars and principals spend three weeks getting ready for this. Imagine a model where they had to do that every month.”

On Monday, the Nevada Department of Education released the first official rating for the state’s schools using a star system.

Carson Valley Middle School was the only one of three preliminary schools to retain a five-star rating.

The Nevada School Performance Framework is based on assessment data from the 2012-13 school year.

The new rating system replaces the annual yearly progress used by No Child Left Behind.

Developed by the state, the rankings will be linked to school administrator and teacher salaries.

Jacks Valley Elementary and Whittell High schools dropped to four stars.

Noonan said that two schools, Piñon Hills and Zephyr Cove elementary, improved from three stars to four stars.

The other four-star schools were Pau-Wa-Lu Middle and Douglas High schools.

Meneley Elementary School went from four stars to three stars, joining Minden, Scarselli and Gardnerville elementary schools, and the middle school students at Whittell.

The initial rankings were based on the 2011-12 school year.

The first official designation was using data from 2012-13.

The new system looks at student proficiency, performance growth and other ways of measuring schools’ success.

At elementary and middle schools the start ratings are based on student growth, proficiency, subgroup performance gaps and average daily attendance, according to the Nevada Department of Education.

High school ratings include graduation rates, college and career readiness along with the other items.

These factors are combined to create a 100-point index score, which are translated into a star rating. Using the figures from the state, a school that receives 77 percent or higher gets a five-star rating.

Higher ranking schools will have more autonomy in determining their operations.

By growth, the network refers to improvement in different subpopulations.

Unlike No Child Left Behind, the new system doesn’t require all subpopulations to reach proficiency, just show that they’ve made progress academically.

Statewide, the number of five-star schools dropped from 112 to 82, while the number of four-star schools increased from 91 to 99. The number of one-star schools statewide remained the same, while the number of two-star schools increased from 100 to 127.

The number of schools evaluated in the state increased from 593 to 604. Of those 277 received a three star rating in 2012-13, up from 271 in 2011-12.

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