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Great Public Schools Criteria for Nevada

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Nevada.

Readiness to Learn

Quality Public Pre-School Program.
In operation since 2002, the Nevada Early Childhood Education Comprehensive Plan (ECE) was established to fund new pre-kindergarten education programs in the state and to expand existing programs. Funding is available to school districts and community-based organizations--including family child care homes, private childcare centers, and Head Start agencies--on a competitive grant basis. In order to receive funding, each provider must tailor a program to meet demonstrated needs of the host community and develop detailed eligibility criteria. All ECE programs are required to provide additional services to parents, including parenting education and opportunities for parenting education and opportunities for parent involvement. Program quality is controlled primarily through the competitive grant process rather than through explicit policy.

The ECE program provides services to children from birth to age five and most programs give priority to children from low-income families. All teachers must be licensed and are paid on the school salary scale, regardless of program location. Nevada ECE showed a commitment to improving classroom quality by recommending programs follow NAEYC guidelines pursue accreditation. The state will also implement new content standards for prekindergarten. (NIEER)

One program that benefits from public funding is Classrooms on Wheels. This unique began in 1992 and continues to serves the community by providing a mobile, free bi-lingual preschool with a parenting development course and an accredited drug prevention program, Beginning Addictions Basic Education System (BABES). COW services 23 neighborhoods in Clark County, which benefits 414 at-risk preschoolers who otherwise would not be receiving an education until they entered the public school system. COW is made possible by grants from the Nevada department of Human Resources, State Health Division, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

Full-day Kindergarten:

Health and Nutrition. The Office of Child Nutrition and School Health exists to assist local school districts and other nonprofit sponsors in assuring that students are well-nourished, healthy, and ready to learn. According to one section of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires all school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program have local wellness policies by July 1, 2006. Nevada is in the process of creating model guidelines for school districts. (NDE)

For more information on Early Childhood programs, visit the Nevada Department of Education.

Quality Conditions

Class Size.
Because of mandate Nev. Rev. Stat. §388.700, the Legislature limited class size in K-3 to 15 (core subjects). School districts and licensed personnel association(s) must develop a plan to reduce class sizes in grades 1-3 within limits of available financial support. Legislature appropriated $450,000 for professional development. A questionnaire revealed that principals, teachers and parents believe smaller class sizes are associated with new teaching practices, increased teacher-student interaction, positive student attitudes toward learning and improved grades.

Districts reported that fewer special education referrals and less teacher absenteeism were associated with class-size reductions. More in-depth evaluations show student achievement levels remained the same when small classes were compared with larger classes (tested over a three-year period). In some districts, however, students in smaller classes (1-20) did significantly better in reading and moderately better in math than students in classes of 21 and over. Special revenue funds provide for class-size reduction. (ECS)

Technology. According to Technology Counts 2005, a report issued by Education Week Nevada had 5.7 students per instructional computer and 13.1 students per instructional computer in the classroom in 2004. There were 6.1 students per internet connected computer and 13.9 students per internet computer connected in the classroom. In response to increasing student population and need for technology the state department of education created a Commission on Educational Technology. School Districts can apply for these grants. Nevada also targets technology funds to schools with special needs. (Ed Week )

Nevada Department of Education

Parental Involvement

Meaningful Programs to Engage Families in their Children's Education.
Project IMPROVE (Producing Results & Outcomes through Meaningful Improvement of Special Education Systems) promotes systemic change for special education in Nevada by implementing strategies that are targeted to improve instruction and performance of students with disabilities. Goals include improving student performance and achievement through grants, training, information, and partnerships, increasing parent participation in their student's educational development and decision-making; and increasing parent representation and contribution to policy and procedure development across system levels, improving teacher quality through improved recruitment and retention for general and special education teachers. Project IMPROVE is sponsored by the Nevada Department of Education and with funding from the US Department of Education, Project IMPROVE establishes linkages with local, regional, state, and national agencies and organizations provides services to target populations (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, students).

Local school districts like Clark County School District, which serves approximately 69 percent of Nevada's students, offer Internet resource guides to help parents understand their child's test scores.
Parent General Information

Expanding Reporting on School and Student Achievement Results. The Nevada State Department of Education has developed an online database of school designations based on AYP.