LEGISLATIVE BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND PROGRAM EVALUATION
The following report is submitted in compliance with NRS 218.5356, which requires that a written report of the findings of the Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation be filed with the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau on or before December 31st for transmission to the Legislature in even-numbered years or to the Legislative Commission in odd-numbered years.
Nevada Education Reform Act
The Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation (the Bureau) was created by Senate Bill 482, the Education Reform Act of 1997 (Chapter 473, Statutes of Nevada 1997). This comprehensive school reform package, called the Nevada Education Reform Act (NERA), combined education initiatives proposed by the Governor with those of the Senate Finance Committee and provided nearly $41 million in general fund appropriations to improve public education. Through the Nevada Education Reform Act, the following occurs:
· The school accountability program is strengthened;
· A system for the adoption of high, measurable statewide standards in academic subjects is established;
· A series of statewide tests linked to those standards is implemented;
· Use of educational technology for classroom instruction is increased; and
· A process for legislative review of education reform is established.
To facilitate legislative review of educational matters, the Act established two new entities within the legislative branch: the Legislative Committee on Education and its staff component, the Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation.
During the 1999 Legislative Session, the Nevada Education Reform Act was further strengthened through the passage of:
· Senate Bill 70 - Changes the term that designates schools as demonstrating “inadequate achievement” to schools “In Need of Improvement” and adds a new category of schools called “exemplary achievement.”
· Senate Bill 466 - Makes the Council to Establish Academic Standards permanent; requires examinations to measure pupils’ proficiency in the new state standards; and provided assistance to pupils who were not able to pass the new, more challenging high school proficiency examination in math.
· Senate Bill 555 - Appropriates $9 million per year to support five school improvement projects; they are as follows:
1. $3.3 million per year was authorized for remedial education programs that have been found to be effective in increasing academic achievement in low-performing schools.
2. In addition to the $3.3 million for remedial programs for low-performing schools, the Legislature added $1 million per year of general fund money for approved programs of remediation and tutoring for pupils at risk of failure. These programs will be conducted before or after school, during the summer, or between sessions in a year-round calendar. These funds are available for pupils at any grade level, including those in danger of failing the high school proficiency test or of not being promoted to the next grade.
3. To help teachers teach to higher academic standards, $3.5 million in each year was approved for four regional professional development programs in Clark, Elko, Douglas and Washoe Counties.
4. New tests to measure the proficiency of third and fifth graders in the new standards were approved at a cost of $300,000 per year.
5. To improve the high school proficiency examination, $900,000 per year was provided to enable the Department of Education to contract with a nationally recognized testing company to provide the expertise and credibility necessary to strengthen the program.
Legislative Committee on Education
Pursuant to NRS 218.5354, the eight-member Legislative Committee on Education is charged with reviewing statewide programs of:
· Class-size Reduction; and
· Automated student records (the Statewide Management of Automated Records Transfer or SMART system).
The Committee may review any other fiscal or policy concerns associated with public education in Nevada, as it deems necessary, and make recommendations to the Legislature concerning the manner in which public education may be improved. The Committee also prescribes standards for the review and evaluation of the school accountability reports required by NRS 385.347, in addition to any standards prescribed by the Department of Education. The Act requires the Committee to recommend to the Department of Education programs of remedial study that have proven to be successful in improving the academic achievement of pupils for each subject tested in the examinations required by NRS 389.015.
During the 1999-2000 Interim, the Committee has met fourteen times; a fifteenth and final meeting for the interim has been scheduled in January 2001. In order to gain a better understanding of education reform in Nevada, the Committee has met in different locations and included tours of schools as a part of the agendas. The Committee toured schools in Churchill County School District, Clark County School District, and Washoe County School District. Schools that made remarkable increases in student achievement were asked to present to the Committee and explain improvement efforts made by school staff. In addition to touring schools and requesting presentations by school staff, the Committee called for legislative staff to assemble a document that details the impact of major education reform initiatives from the last decade. The document, Comprehensive Review of Education Reform in Nevada, was presented to the Committee at its September meeting (see also page 20, Comprehensive Review of Education Reform in Nevada).
Because of the importance of high stakes tests in the realm of education reform in the State of Nevada, the Committee held two meetings exclusively on testing issues and included agenda items on testing, as needed, during other meetings of the Committee. In order to understand the impact of high stakes tests on test security, the Committee issued subpoenas to the State Department of Education and Clark County School District to obtain records of test security irregularities and breaches. The Committee requested that staff review the information and compile a report to be presented to the Committee at its January 2001 meeting. Staff of the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, as well as the Bureau, reviewed all subpoenaed documents and have prepared a report; the report will cover the following topics:
1. Protocols, procedures and other mechanisms in place that are designed to prevent testing irregularities and breaches;
2. Protocols, procedures and other mechanisms in place to report testing irregularities and breaches;
3. Protocols, procedures and other mechanisms in place for the investigation of testing irregularities and breaches; and
4. Follow-up, consequences, and imposition of discipline or other penalties due to testing irregularities and breaches.
In March of 2000, the Committee approved a list of 26 remedial programs that have been found to be effective in increasing academic achievement of pupils; the Department of Education subsequently adopted the Committee’s list. In January of 2001, the Committee will hear recommendations from the Bureau to expand the current list to include six additional remedial programs. The list of remedial programs approved by the Committee in March 2000 is included under Tab 1 – Remedial Programs; the full report is available from the Bureau.
During two work sessions, the Committee voted to recommend ten bill draft requests to the 2001 Legislative Session. Topics contained within the bill drafts include:
· Remedial Education;
· Professional Development of Teachers;
· Charter Schools;
· Distance Education;
· Discipline of Pupils; and
· Test Security
For a detailed report on the Committee’s activities and recommendations during the 1999-00 Interim, refer to Bulletin 01-16, Legislative Committee on Education.
Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation
The Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation, which was placed within the Fiscal Analysis Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, consists of two employees: an Education Program Analyst and an Education Research Statistician. This unit is supervised by the Assembly and Senate Fiscal Analysts and works closely with the Chief Principal Research Analyst and Senior Research Analyst in the Research Division assigned to work on education issues. The Bureau has been fully staffed since February of 1998 when the Program Analyst and Statistician were hired.
As part of the Fiscal Analysis Division, the Bureau also has duties of a fiscal nature. Staff members are assigned budget accounts to monitor and analyze, as are other members of the Fiscal Analysis Division. This involves reviewing the agency’s budget request, analyzing the Governor’s recommendations, soliciting additional information from the agency as needed, preparing for budget hearings and formulating information and recommendations for the money committees during session. Staff track legislation affecting education and related agencies and prepare bill explanations and summaries. Staff is also responsible for tracking state revenues for education and must be knowledgeable about federal funds available for educational programs. All of the budget accounts pertaining to public education are handled by Program Analysts, who work closely with the Bureau, or by Bureau staff.
The Bureau provides information to the Committee and is responsible, pursuant to NRS 218.5356, for:
· Collecting and analyzing data and issuing reports related to the Act’s reform provisions and statewide programs in accountability, testing, class-size reduction, and special education;
· Evaluating the performance and progress of public education in Nevada; and
· Monitoring implementation of the Act and expenditures of funds appropriated by the Act.
Programs of Remediation
One of the high-profile aspects of the Nevada Education Reform Act has been the designation of schools as having “exemplary,” “high,” “adequate” or “in need of improvement” performance on state-mandated achievement tests. Schools designated as “in need of improvement” are required to implement a plan for improvement and adopt approved remedial programs. The Bureau is involved in this endeavor at all stages:
· Recommending to the Legislative Committee on Education remedial education programs that have been found to be effective in improving academic achievement (see also page 17, List of Effective Remedial Programs);
· Reviewing applications and making recommendations to the Interim Finance Committee on the allocation of funding to low-achieving schools for remedial education programs (see also page 18, Review of Remedial Fund Applications);
· Monitoring the implementation of remedial education programs in low-achieving schools and the use of funding for such programs (see also page 18, Review of Low Performing Schools); and
· Evaluating the effectiveness of the remedial programs and plans for improvement (see also page 19, Evaluation of the Effectiveness of State Funded Remediation Programs).
In addition to providing state support to low performing schools, Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session authorized $1 million in each year of the biennium to provide remedial education programs or tutoring for pupils who need additional instructional time in order to pass or to reach a level considered proficient. Programs funded under this bill must be conducted before or after school, on weekends, during the summer or between sessions in schools with year-round calendars. The Bureau is also involved in this endeavor at all stages:
· Reviewing applications and making recommendations to the Interim Finance Committee on the allocation of funding to districts for remedial education programs or tutoring;
· Monitoring the implementation of the remedial education programs or tutoring programs and the use of funding for such programs; and
· Evaluating the effectiveness of the remedial education programs or tutoring programs.
Since 1977, the Legislature has required statewide testing to measure how Nevada’s pupils compare to those in other states and the nation as a whole. Beginning in 1995, the Legislature appropriated funds to fully pay for the tests. These tests include the following: a standardized, norm-referenced¹ test in reading, language arts and math in grades 4 and 8; a state-designed, direct writing assessment in grades 8 and 11; a state-developed criterion-referenced test²; and a high school proficiency test in 11th grade covering reading and math. The 1997 Education Reform Act increased testing requirements as a part of increased accountability for public schools. A norm-referenced test for 10th graders was added, as was a writing test for 4th graders. Science was added as a subject to be tested at grades 4, 8, 10 and 11, and funding was appropriated to pay for criterion-referenced tests based on the new standards in two grade levels. The Act established a procedure for ranking schools on the basis of test scores and requiring schools designated “in need of improvement” on those tests to prepare plans for improvement and to adopt proven remedial education programs based upon needs identified in the tests.
During the 1999 Legislative Session, testing timelines for the Phase I achievement tests for English, mathematics, and science were delayed from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2000-2001 school year. The Phase II achievement test required for social studies was shifted from the 2000-2001 school year to the 2001-2002 school year (Senate Bill 104, 1999 Legislative Session). The change in timelines was requested in response to the State Department of Education’s inability to meet the testing schedules required under current law. Senate Bill 104 also requires that the high school proficiency examination required by NRS 389.015 measure pupil’s performance on the standards of content and performance adopted by the State Board of Education. The high school proficiency test incorporating these standards must be administered to eleventh grade students in school year 2001-2002, and students must pass this examination before the end of twelfth grade to receive a standard high school diploma in school year 2002-2003.
In order to assist legislative staff in understanding the problems and complexities of Nevada’s state-mandated pupil assessment program, an ad hoc advisory committee was created by the Bureau to assist the staff (see also page 14, Testing Advisory Workgroup):
· The Testing Advisory Workgroup provides technical expertise to the Bureau and Legislative Committee on Education on testing issues, provides planning and budgeting assistance, identifies areas of concern and possible remedies, and suggests priorities for funding and legislative attention.
The Testing Advisory Workgroup is composed of school district test directors, Department staff, and University testing and statistics experts. Representatives of the teachers’ association and test vendors have also been invited to participate. The Testing Advisory Workgroup provides staff with information regarding implementation of state testing provisions.
The review of school district accountability reports (Part III Reports) was transferred from the Department of Education to the Bureau by the Nevada Education Reform Act. NRS 218.5356 specifically requires the Bureau to conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of the state’s school accountability program and authorizes the Bureau to contract for assistance in carrying out this analysis. For FY 2000-2001, the Bureau contracted with Dr. George C. Hill to conduct a review of school districts’ accountability reports for the 1998-99 school year and provide recommendations to the Bureau and school districts regarding the program. The consultant’s report, which is available from the Fiscal Analysis Division, will be presented to the Legislative Committee on Education at their January 2001 meeting (see also page 12, School Accountability Progress Reports).
With the assistance of the Department of Education and school districts, the Bureau produces tables of data contained in school districts’ accountability reports to assist the contractors and others analyzing such data elements. In response to finding data-entry errors and missing information in the school reports, the Bureau works closely with each school district to improve the reliability of the data provided in the school reports. The data tables for 1999-2000 school year are available in a publication from the Fiscal Analysis Division and are also located on the Fiscal Analysis Division’s website: www.leg.state.nv.us/Division/fiscal/LeBeape.cfm.
Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session provides $3.5 million in each year of the biennium to establish and operate four regional training programs to prepare teachers to teach to the new, more rigorous academic standards. The recommendation for the development of such programs came from input received from four regional workshops on teacher training held during the 1997-98 Interim at the request of the Legislative Committee on Education. In response to the passing of this legislation, an ad hoc advisory workgroup, the Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP) Workgroup, was originally created by the Bureau in FY 1999-2000. The RPDP Workgroup is composed of RPDP Coordinators, RPDP Board Representatives, Department staff, and a representative from WestEd who was contracted to perform an evaluation of the effectiveness of the professional development programs. The Workgroup continues to meet regularly and the Bureau attends all meetings. The Bureau closely monitors RPDP budgets, as well as the evaluation being conducted to determine the effectiveness of the program. It is anticipated that a final report on the status of the RPDPs for the biennium will be available in February 2001 (see also page 16, Professional Development).
To ensure that the Nevada Education Reform Act’s key provisions are implemented, the Bureau also closely monitors two other bodies created by the Nevada Education Reform Act, as well as several subcommittees and working groups established to carry out the work of these two entities:
· Commission on Educational Technology (see also page 22, Commission on Educational Technology); and
· Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools (see also page 22, Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools).
On behalf of the Committee, the Bureau monitors the activities of the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, Commission for Professional Standards in Education (licensing), the Commission on Postsecondary Education and all other committees, task forces and advisory groups dealing with educational matters, including:
· SMART Advisory Committee authorized by Senate Bill 555 (Chapter 559, Statutes of Nevada 1999) (see also page 22, Statewide Management of Automated Records Transfer);
· State Planning Commission for the New Construction, Design, Maintenance and Repair of School Facilities authorized by Assembly Bill 597 (Chapter 596, Statutes of Nevada 1999); and
· Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence created by Assembly Bill 686 (Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999);
Bureau staff regularly attends meetings of the Department of Education’s Task Force on School Accountability to provide technical information. During the 1999-2000 school year, the Bureau and the Department convened a subcommittee of the Task Force on School Accountability to discuss accountability data elements found to be most informative to parents and other members of the community. As a result of these meetings, it is anticipated that future accountability reports, sent home to parents and read by the community, will be more informative, yet will not provide an overwhelming amount of data to these populations (see also page 11, School Accountability Technical Advisory Committee).
During the 1999-2000 school year, Bureau staff regularly attended meetings of the Department of Education’s Occupational Advisory Task Force to provide technical information. The purpose of this task force was to provide input and review the State Plan for Occupational Education. The State Plan drives the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act Amendment of 1998 funding for the next five years, as well as sets the direction for occupational education in Nevada. A draft of the plan was completed in January 2000 and the plan was subsequently approved by U.S. Department of Education; notice of approval was received in June 2000.
In response to a Letter of Intent issued by the Senate Committee on Finance and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means during the 1999 Legislative Session, regarding the Adult Basic Education and Adult High School Diploma Programs, the Department convened an Adult and Alternative Education Task Force to discuss and make recommendations to increase retention and completion rates of program participants. Bureau staff regularly attended meetings of the Task Force to provide technical information. As a result of the meetings, several recommendations were submitted to the Legislative Committee on Education to be considered during the 2001 Legislative Session.
In response to ACR 16 of the 1999 Legislative Session, the Department convened an advisory group to review current requirements and recommend additional requirements by which a pupil with a disability would be eligible to graduate from high school with a standard diploma. Bureau staff attended the first meeting of this advisory group and has closely monitored draft recommendations; final recommendations will be forwarded to the 71st session of the Nevada Legislature.
The Bureau also attends, as an observer, meetings of the Nevada State Council on School-to-Careers, the Department of Education’s testing directors’ meetings, and monthly school district superintendents’ meetings, as appropriate. Bureau staffers have been invited to participate in and have conducted training workshops on remedial programs and on data collection. Bureau staffers also attend training outside the state on effective educational programs and testing programs.
Although the Department’s task force on class-size reduction has not been active, the Fiscal Analysis Division has participated since the start-up of the program, providing information to the task force on legislative intent, history of the program and budget issues. In addition, Assembly Bill 700 of the 1999 Legislative Session authorized the Elko County School District to utilize the money appropriated for class-size reduction to carry out a demonstration project in which pupil-teacher ratios of 22 to 1 are established in kindergarten and grades 1 to 5, inclusive, in school years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 in order to reduce team teaching. Because kindergarten classes were already at or below the 22 to 1 ratio, Elko County School District expanded the project to include grade 6. As part of the bill, the Elko County School District must evaluate the effectiveness of the project in improving pupil achievement. In response to this requirement, the Bureau and the Department worked with Elko County School District in developing and implementing an evaluation plan for the project. Beginning in March 2000, Bureau and Department staff, with assistance from Great Basin College (GBC), began collecting data for the evaluation. A final report will be submitted to the 71st session of the Nevada Legislature.
To gain first-hand knowledge of the schools and districts of Nevada and their unique characteristics and challenges, Bureau staff has visited schools in all 17 school districts (see also page 23, District Site Visits).
The Bureau also prepares information for legislative committees and answers requests for information from legislators. School districts and concerned parents also request information from the Bureau. (See also page 23, Quick Polls.)
In addition to its statutory duties, future plans for the Bureau include the following projects:
· Continuing to review the status of the project to develop a statewide, automated system of student records, specifically to address what analyses will be possible once the system is operational;
· Continuing to expand the analyses of test results and other data to evaluate pupils’ academic performance, especially any data available concerning class-size reduction, parent participation, special education, and programs of remedial instruction, including extended-day programs and continued monitoring of the school improvement plans and remedial education programs of low-achieving schools;
· Continuing to work with the Department of Education and school districts to maximize the use of state, local and federal funding available for remedial education and school improvement programs;
· Continuing to work with the school districts to improve the reliability of the data provided in school and district accountability reports;
· Continuing to review effective teacher preparation and professional development programs;
· Continuing to provide guidance on programs for remedial education, school-wide improvement and educational technology that have evidence of effectiveness in improving academic performance, including working with the Department of Education to sponsor workshops for school districts on effective programs;
· Continuing to work with the Department of Education and the Regional Professional Development Programs to provide school districts with guidance on how to utilize assessment data to determine remediation needs and how to evaluate implemented remediation programs;
· Expanding the review of accountability data to include variables affecting the dropout rate of pupils;
· Evaluating the effectiveness of charter schools in Nevada;
· Evaluating the use and effectiveness of alternative assessments for students with disabilities, including the new Skills and Competencies for Alternative Assessment of Nevada (SCANN);
· Researching the effect of classroom book-sets, not available for students to take home, on student academic achievement; and
· Researching the effect of the millennium scholarship on student grades.
The following section provides more detail on specific duties and responsibilities of the Legislative Bureau of Educational Accountability and Program Evaluation and its activities during its fourth year of operation.
School Accountability Technical Advisory Committee
The School Accountability Technical Advisory Committee, sometimes referred to as the “Accountability Task Force,” requires active participation by the Bureau because this committee oversees the development of the Handbook for Implementation of NRS 385.347 - School Accountability Legislation. The Bureau participated in the Department of Education’s School Accountability Technical Advisory Committee since FY 1997-98 and will continue to do so. The Fiscal Analysis Division has attended meetings of the Department’s Accountability Task Force since that group was formed in 1993.
Regarding school accountability reports, a concern has been raised that parents of students may be receiving so much data that the report is not “user friendly.” In response to this concern, the Bureau and the Department convened a subcommittee of the Task Force on School Accountability to discuss accountability data elements found to be most informative to parents and other members of the community. Information from other states, as well as data received from a statewide survey, was utilized as the base for the development of recommendations. As a result of the meetings, it is anticipated that future accountability reports, sent home to parents and read by the community, will be more informative, yet be more “user friendly.”
School Accountability Data Tables
Pursuant to NRS 385.347, each public school in Nevada is required to produce an annual accountability report that is sent to parents and other residents of the district. School districts must then submit a district report to the Legislative Counsel Bureau that summarizes the effectiveness of the accountability program and describes efforts made by the districts to correct deficiencies noted in the school reports. The Bureau is required to compile the information supplied in the school accountability reports of Nevada’s seventeen school districts into School Accountability Data Tables. The Data Tables include both demographic and performance data and are utilized by the review panel contracted to evaluate the accountability reports (see page 12, School Accountability Progress Reports). In response to a recommendation from the 1999-2000 review panel to include longitudinal data in the tables, the Bureau completely reformatted the document to include three years of data for all variables. The tables were completed in October 2000 and were distributed across the State.
Plans for Improvement (Part III Reports)
As part of the Program for Accountability of School Districts, NRS 385.351 requires school districts to submit a “Plan for Improvement” based upon deficiencies noted in the accountability program. As part of the review of schools designated as “In Need of Improvement” under NRS 385.367, the Bureau reviews each school’s “Plan for Improvement” and makes recommendations, as appropriate (see also page 18, Review of Low Performing Schools).
The Act authorizes the Bureau to contract with a third party to evaluate school district’s’ accountability reports and consult with districts regarding plans for school improvement. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was prepared in April 2000 and, in June 2000, the proposal submitted by Dr. George C. Hill was accepted. In November, a draft of the 1998-99 Accountability Progress Report was submitted to the Bureau for review and was subsequently review by district superintendents in December 2000. The final report will be provided to the Bureau for review by January 1, 2001, and findings will be presented to the Legislative Committee on Education at its January 2001 meeting.
Class-Size Reduction Annual Report
The Act requires the Bureau to review the statewide program to reduce the ratio of pupils per class and per licensed teacher. The Bureau has met with Department of Education staff involved in class-size reduction and has reviewed all annual reports to the present. Since the program’s inception, the Fiscal Analysis Division has tracked the number of teachers hired and pupils taught, the resulting pupil-teacher ratios, the percentage of classrooms team-taught, and funding allocated to each school district specifically for class-size reduction. Each year, the Fiscal Analysis Division calculates whether school districts have hired from their general funds a sufficient number of teachers to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio that existed before the class-size reduction program began in school year 1990-91. The Bureau made recommendations concerning these reports and submitted these recommendations, along with an annual report on the program, to the Legislative Committee on Education in April 2000.
As noted on page 9 of this report, Assembly Bill 700 of the 1999 Legislative Session authorized the Elko County School District to utilize the money appropriated for class-size reduction to carry out a demonstration project in which pupil-teacher ratios of 22 to 1 are established in kindergarten and grades 1 to 5, inclusive, in school years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, in order to reduce team teaching. As part of the bill, the Elko County School District must evaluate the effectiveness of the project in improving pupil achievement. In response to this requirement, the Bureau and the Department worked with Elko County School District in developing and implementing an evaluation plan for the project. The plan includes collecting data through the following:
· Classroom Observations;
· Teacher Interviews;
· Principal Interviews;
· Teacher Journals; and
· Parent Focus Groups.
In addition to the above, school records concerning student achievement, attendance, and discipline will also be collected.
Beginning in March 2000, Bureau and Department staff, with assistance from Great Basin College (GBC), began collecting data for the evaluation. In addition to collecting data, the Bureau created a database using SPSS statistical software to compile the data collected from the classroom observations. The Bureau, with assistance from the Department, has started analyzing the results from the classroom observations and will submit a report of findings to the Elko County School District in January 2001. Preliminary results from the classroom observations indicate that the greatest differences will most likely be found in the comparison of grades 3-6 that were at a 30 to 1 student-teacher ratio during the 1999-2000 school year and those same grades that are now at the pilot ratio of 22 to 1 for school year 2000-2001. According to class-size reduction theory, a smaller number of students per teacher should make possible greater individualization of instruction and greater engagement in learning on the part of students. It should also make classroom management easier and discipline more positive. To date, it appears that many of the goals of lowering class size are occurring in the Grades 3-6 classrooms that are now limited to 22 students to one teacher. A final report will be submitted to the 71st session of the Nevada Legislature.
The Act requires the Bureau to review the statewide program to educate persons with disabilities. In response to this, the Bureau continues to focus its review of special education programs on the following:
· Special education students included in statewide testing;
· Special education students who graduate with a standard diploma;
· The effect of class-size reduction on the number of requests for special education testing; and
· The effect of remedial education programs on the number of requests for special education testing.
In addition, beginning in the 1999-2000 school year, the Bureau began closely monitoring changes to federal regulations regarding the inclusion of special education pupils and English Language Learners (ELL) in state assessment systems. The Bureau will continue to examine data with regard to the inclusion of special populations and it is anticipated that the Bureau will expand its review of accountability data to more closely look at achievement rates by population.
In response to the implementation of higher standards in the State of Nevada and implementation of the new, more rigorous, High School Proficiency Examination, ACR 16 was passed by the 1999 Legislature, urging the Department to convene an advisory group to review current requirements and recommend additional requirements by which a pupil with a disability would be eligible to graduate from high school with a standard diploma. Bureau staff attended the first meeting of this advisory group and has closely monitored draft recommendations; final recommendations will be forwarded to the 71st session of the Nevada Legislature.
Testing Advisory Workgroup
The Act authorizes the Bureau to review and analyze results of statewide examinations. In response to this duty, the Bureau created the Testing Advisory Workgroup; members include school districts’ testing directors, Department of Education staff (State Superintendent, Testing and Accountability staff), and University faculty knowledgeable about testing and measurement. This committee meets, as needed, to discuss issues and make recommendations concerning testing in the State, including:
· Amount of time spent on testing;
· Test security;
· Pupils exempt from testing;
· Problems in test administration, scoring, reporting and analysis of results;
· Need for practice tests;
· Remediation for low performing students;
· Time schedules for implementing new tests;
· Time of year in which testing occurs;
· Equating studies between different tests;
· Training needs;
· Tying tests to new standards; and
· Teacher testing.
Test Directors’ Meetings
The Bureau participates as an observer in the Test Directors’ meetings. These meetings are coordinated by the Department of Education and provide information regarding the status of testing in Nevada.
High School Proficiency Examination (HSPE)
In an effort to improve the development, administration, and scoring of the HSPE, Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session authorized the Department of Education to spend $900,000 in each year of the biennium to contract with a nationally recognized testing company to take over the development, printing, administration and scoring the examination. The contract was awarded to CTB McGraw-Hill and WestEd; the Bureau closely monitors this contract and the funding provided through SB 555
The Bureau has and will continue to attend standard-setting advisory sessions and bias-review sessions:
· Standard-Setting Advisory Sessions: These sessions require the Standard-Setting Advisory Panel to review every question that may be included on the High School Proficiency Examination and make judgments regarding the difficulty level of each question. Input received from the panel is utilized in making recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding the appropriate passing score (“cut-score”) for the examination.
· Bias-Review Advisory Sessions: These sessions require the Bias-Review Advisory Panel to review every question that may be included on the High School Proficiency Examination and make judgments regarding whether questions are appropriate for inclusion on the test (i.e., are the items unbiased regarding age, gender, ethnicity, etc.).
Regarding TerraNova, the norm-referenced achievement exam given in grades 4, 8 and 10, the Bureau has attended several meetings with Department of Education staff and representatives from CTB-McGraw/Hill, the test vendor, concerning how to administer the test and utilize test results. These exams are used to determine whether a school has adequate academic performance under the school accountability provisions of the Nevada Education Reform Act.
Pursuant to NRS 385.364, a school may not be designated as having adequate achievement if less than 90 percent of the pupils who were required to take the examination did not take the exam. This law became effective in School Year 1999-2000. Review of data on students who did not test during the October 1999 administration of the examination indicates that ten (10) schools did not meet the 90 percent rate; law requires these schools to submit a report explaining reasons for the low participation rate. The Bureau has reviewed all such reports. Data will again be reviewed for the October 2000 administration of the examination and a report will be forwarded to the Committee.
Assessments to Measure Student Proficiency on State Standards
The 1997 Education Reform Act increased testing requirements as a part of increased accountability for public schools. Funding was appropriated to pay for criterion-referenced tests based on the new standards in two grade levels. During the 1999 Legislative Session, testing timelines for the Phase I achievement tests for English, mathematics, and science were delayed from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2000-2001 school year. The Phase II achievement test required for social studies were shifted from the 2000-2001 school year to the 2001-2002 school year (Senate Bill 104, 1999 Legislative Session). The change in timelines was in response to the State Department of Education being unable to meet the testing schedules required under current law. Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session authorized the Department of Education to spend $300,000 in each year of the biennium to develop or purchase and to score the assessments. The Bureau has monitored the development of the examinations. It is anticipated that the examinations will be administered for the first time, commencing in the spring semester of 2001; Bureau staff will review the results and report the results to the Committee.
Assembly Bill 6 of the 1997 Legislative Session changed requirements for first grade enrollment. Families may elect for their child not to attend kindergarten or not enroll in school until age 7. However, starting in July of 1999, school districts must conduct an assessment to determine whether those children are developmentally ready to be admitted to first grade. In response to this legislation, the Bureau continues to work with the Department and districts to gather information regarding the impact and outcome of this legislation.
Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session provides $3.5 million in each year of the biennium to establish and operate four regional training programs to prepare teachers to teach to new, more rigorous academic standards. The recommendation for the development of such programs came from input received from the four regional workshops on teacher training held during the 1997-98 Interim; the regional workshops were conducted at the request of the Legislative Committee on Education. With regard to the RPDPs, each program is established for the following purposes:
· Training teachers to teach to the new standards for public schools established by the Council on Academic Standards;
· Training teachers and school administrators how to measure pupil achievement and analyze and interpret test scores for school improvement;
· Training teachers to teach to a higher level in their content areas; and
· Training teachers in methods of teaching basic skills, such as reading instruction using phonics and basic mathematics computation skills.
Each regional program is governed by a board of directors consisting of the superintendents of the school districts within the region, or their designees; master teachers identified by their superintendents; and representatives from higher education. Regional programs are required to submit reports at least once a year to the State Board of Education, the Commission on Professional Standards in Education, and the Legislative Committee on Education, regarding the number of teachers receiving training in each of the above topics.
The programs are encouraged to use the standards-based training model followed by the Geographic Alliance in Nevada (GAIN). Such a model provides teachers with high quality instruction in their content area, followed immediately by instruction from “master teachers” in effective methods to teach that content. Both the content and process components are tied directly to the standards. The regional programs may use a portion of their funding to provide incentives to reward teachers for gaining new skills and knowledge, including arranging for college or re-certification credit; providing books, supplies, or instructional materials for the classroom; or offering a stipend. Further, the appropriation includes funding to be distributed to the regional professional development programs to reimburse travel expenses of educators attending the center’s programs. In carrying out their duties, these programs will also serve as model classrooms, demonstrating the use of technology for teaching and learning, in keeping with the technical standards and the state technology plan established by the Commission on Educational Technology.
In response to the passing of this legislation, an ad hoc advisory workgroup, the Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP) Workgroup, was originally created by the Bureau in FY 1999-2000. The RPDP Workgroup is composed of RPDP coordinators, RPDP board representatives, Department staff, and a representative from WestEd who was contracted to perform an evaluation of the effectiveness of the professional development programs. The Workgroup continues to meet regularly and the Bureau attends all meetings. The Bureau closely monitors RPDP budgets, as well as the evaluation being conducted to determine the effective of the program. A final report on the status of the RPDPs for the biennium will be available in February 2001.
List of Effective Remedial Programs
A major responsibility of the Bureau is the evaluation of the effectiveness of educational programs. Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session appropriated $3.3 million for each year of the biennium to be distributed among the schools designated as “In Need of Improvement” or certain schools that have been designated as demonstrating “adequate achievement,” but are low performing. These funds are utilized to pay for implementing effective remedial education programs. A school that receives such funding is required to ensure that each of its pupils who failed to demonstrate at least adequate achievement on the state-required norm-referenced test (TerraNova) complete a program of remedial study adopted by the Department of Education.
In response to this requirement, S.B. 482 of the 1997 Legislative Session requires the Legislative Committee on Education to recommend to the Department of Education programs of remedial study that have proven to be successful in improving the academic achievement of pupils in the subject areas of reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Bureau, with assistance from the Department of Education and a consultant from the University of Nevada - Reno, developed a List of Effective Remedial Programs and presented this List to the Legislative Committee on Education in March 1998, with an updated List provided to the Committee in January 1999 and March 2000. The Committee and the Department have both adopted these lists. It is anticipated that an updated List will be presented to the Committee in January 2001.
Review of Remedial Fund Applications
In conjunction with the development of the List of Effective Programs, the Bureau participated in the review of applications for allocations of funding for remedial education submitted by 30 schools that were designated as “In Need of Improvement” or having low performance. The Bureau and the Department made recommendations to the Interim Finance Committee regarding the applications for funding; all 30 schools received funding to implement an approved remedial program during the 2000-2001 school year.
In addition to the $3.3 million for low performing schools, Senate Bill 555 of the 1999 Legislative Session also authorized an additional $1 million for remedial education programs or tutoring for pupils who need additional instructional time in order to pass or to reach a level considered proficient. Programs funded under this legislation must be conducted before or after school, on weekends, during the summer or between sessions in schools with year-round calendars. The Bureau participated in the review of applications of funding for remedial programs or tutoring submitted by twelve of the seventeen districts and three charter schools. The Bureau and the Department made recommendations to the Interim Finance Committee regarding the applications for funding, and all twelve districts and three charter schools received funding to implement remedial programs.
Review of Low Performing Schools
As a follow-up to the allocation of remedial funds, the Bureau, with assistance from Department of Education staff, have and will continue to conduct site reviews at each school/district to answer any technical questions with regard to implementation and to ensure that the selected remedial programs have been implemented appropriately. Beginning in School Year 1998-99, all schools that receive state remediation funds are reviewed. The following provides the number of schools reviewed by school year:
1998-1999 1999-2000 2000-2001
23 schools 36 schools 30 schools
In order to increase the efficiency of the reviews and provide a timely report to school district staff on findings from the review, the Bureau developed a form for use beginning in the 2000-2001 school year that is completed by reviewers immediately following the review. The form includes the following information (see also the form located under Tab 2 – School Review Form):
· Summary of the “Plan for Improvement” submitted with the school’s application for remedial funds;
· Summary of the interview with the principal regarding plans for improvement, which have been or will be implemented at the school;
· Actual observations (i.e., implementation of programs funded by the remedial funds and integration of other programs and other funding sources);
· Data to be collected in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the remedial programs and other improvement efforts implemented at the school; and
· Recommendations for improvement.
In addition to reviewing schools that received funding for remediation for low performance, the Bureau, with assistance from the Department, has started to review districts/schools that received funding for remediation of at-risk pupils. To date, programs implemented in Carson City, Douglas County and Washoe County have been reviewed.
Toward the end of the school year, each school/district that receives state remediation funding is requested to provide data on the effectiveness of the remedial program(s) implemented. For School Year 1999-2000, all 37 schools that received state funding completed a satisfaction survey and submitted data. Although data collection guidelines were provided to each school, many did not understand how to collect the requested data In response to this, the Bureau has worked directly with schools during school years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 to assist them in understanding how to collect the requested data. A workshop on how to evaluate remediation programs was presented by the Bureau and the Department in August 2000 (Southern Nevada) and in September 2000 (Northern Nevada). The agenda for the workshop included the following:
· Site Reviews and Program Implementation;
· Data Timelines, Evaluation Resources, and Assessments;
· General Procedures and Rules Regarding State Remediation Funding;
· State Liaisons and Assistance; and
· Breakout Sessions with Program Vendors Providing Guidance on Evaluation of Programs.
Response to these workshops was so positive that it is anticipated that additional workshops will be conducted in February 2001. The focus of the future workshops will be to have program vendors available to answer questions regarding remedial programs.
In addition, the Bureau updated the data collection guidelines to be more “user friendly” and has distributed them to each school that has received state remediation funds, as well as to school district staff responsible for assisting schools in implementing the remediation programs (see Tab 3 – Evaluation of Programs, for copies of the satisfaction survey. Copies of the data collection guidelines are available from the Fiscal Analysis Division and are available on the Division’s website).
School Profiles for Schools Designated as In Need of Improvement
Utilizing state assessment data, as well as evaluation data received from schools, the Bureau is completing a report that will provide profiles for each school that received a designation of demonstrating “Need for Improvement” on April 1, 1998. Topics addressed in the report will include:
· Designation status of the school over three years;
· School improvement plan implemented with state remediation funding; and
· Student academic success, evidenced by state mandated assessments and results of remediation programs.
The report on the effectiveness of state funded remediation programs will be presented to the Committee in January 2001.
Comprehensive School Reform
In addition to state funding for remedial programs, all schools that receive Title I funding may apply for federal Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) funds; some of the CSRD funding is available to schools that are ineligible for Title I funding for disadvantaged schools. The Bureau participated in the review of school applications for funding, making sure that double funding (state and federal) did not occur. For the first round, eight schools received funding (approximately $61,000/per school, per year for three years); for the second round of funding, five schools received funding. The Bureau will review reports on the effectiveness of the Comprehensive School Reform Program at these schools, and the information will be forwarded to the Committee.
Comprehensive Review of Education Reform in Nevada
During the interim, the Committee called for legislative staff to assemble a report that details the impact of major education reform initiatives from the last decade. The report, Comprehensive Review of Education Reform in Nevada, was presented to the Committee at its September 2000 meeting. Compilation of the report was headed by staff of the Research Division; Bureau staff assisted in the completion of the document. Topics addressed within the report include:
· Implementation Data (measurement and accountability; academic standards; educational technology; professional development; and class-size reduction);
· Data Concerning Results (TerraNova; High School Proficiency Examination; Writing Examination; nonacademic data; and academic achievement in low performing schools); and
· School Profiles of Schools Making Significant and Meaningful Gains on State Tests
A major section of the report involved the completion of profiles of schools that have demonstrated both significant and meaningful (substantive) gains on the state-required norm-referenced test (TerraNova). Bureau staff completed school profiles for six schools. For each school, the superintendent or area superintendent and principal were interviewed; interview topics included:
Upon compiling and reviewing the information received from the six schools, it became apparent to Bureau staff that although each school was unique in many ways (i.e., student characteristics, community influences, remediation programs implemented, etc.), there were some “success factors” that influenced the achievement rate, to some extent, across all of the schools reviewed:
The complete report may be obtained from the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau and is also available on the Committee’s website at www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/70th1999/interim/statcom/education.
School Reform Conferences
In order to keep up with current trends in the area of school reform, the Bureau continues to participate in various school reform conferences, including:
· National Conference on Large-Scale Assessment
· Increasing Achievement in High Poverty Schools
Commission on Educational Technology
The Nevada Education Reform Act created an 11-member Commission on Educational Technology consisting of representatives from school districts, public libraries, the University and Community College System of Nevada, private sector, parents, and legislators. The Commission is charged with developing a statewide plan for the use of educational technology, making recommendations for the distribution of funds from the Distributive School Account and developing technical standards for education technology and uniform specification to ensure statewide compatibility. The Bureau has monitored the actions and distribution of funds by the Educational Technology Commission.
Statewide Management of Automated Records Transfer (SMART)
Assembly Bill 469 of 1997 established a statewide, automated records system for accountability of K-12 public school students in Nevada, called the Statewide Management of Automated Records Transfer (SMART) System. The Department of Education coordinates quarterly meetings to discuss issues surrounding the implementation of the SMART system in Nevada. The Bureau attends these meetings and training workshops on how the system works; it is anticipated that training will be on-going. It is imperative that the Bureau understands and is able to utilize the SMART system since this system will generate accountability data in the future. At the request of SMART Advisory Committee members and Department staff, the Bureau has provided technical assistance on budget issues and data elements required for the analysis of school accountability data.
Academic Standards for Public Schools
Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools
The Nevada Education Reform Act created a nine-member Council to Establish Academic Standards, composed of representatives from the State Board of Education, parents, teachers, business leaders, and legislators. Senate Bill 466 of the 1999 Legislative Session made the Council permanent and charged them with developing grade-by-grade standards for Kindergarten through eighth grade in English and mathematics. The permanent Council consists of an eight-member panel, with four members appointed by the Governor and four by legislative leadership. The Council’s duties are expanded to include a periodic review, and, if necessary, revision to the standards. The Council must also recommend assessments to measure student proficiency on the standards and review pupils’ performance on these assessments to evaluate areas of the standards that might need revision. The Bureau has monitored the progress of this Council and has provided assistance, as needed.
Other Educational Responsibilities
District Site Visits
In order to become familiar with the unique characteristics of each school district in Nevada, the Bureau has conducted site visits of numerous schools throughout the state. To date, the Bureau has completed site visits in all 17 school districts and has reviewed 125 schools, including two charter schools and two educational programs at correctional sites in Ely and Lovelock, Nevada. It is anticipated that the Bureau will focus on the completion of reviews of all charter schools and schools that have implemented before/after school programs and alternative programs for discipline during the 2001-2002 school year.
Other Educational Programs Monitored by the Bureau
The Act also requires the Bureau to conduct studies and analyses to evaluate the performance and progress of other educational programs in the state. In response to this, the following programs are being monitored/evaluated by the Bureau:
· School to Careers;
· Adult Education;
· Early Childhood Education, including the Classroom on Wheels Program and the Even Start Programs;
· Occupational Education; and
· Alternative Programs for Discipline (Assembly Bill 521; 1999 Legislative Session)
Legislators have requested other information and studies. Many of these requests require information from all school districts. In order to complete the requests in a reasonable time frame, the Bureau created a Quick Poll form, which may be faxed to the seventeen districts at one time. Response to these Quick Polls has been favorable. Upon receipt of the information, a report is completed by the Bureau and is sent to the person who made the request. Examples of Quick Polls which have been completed thus far are as follows:
· How districts have complied with Assembly Bill 37 of the 1999 Legislative Session (this bill requires the Board of Trustees of school districts to provide information concerning 1999 statutes to parents and educational personnel);
· Percent of new state standards already covered in district curriculum;
· Retention rates of high school students;
· Incidents involving weapons in public schools;
· Types of remedial programs implemented throughout the state;
· School district handbooks and policies for English-language learners;
· Home school and private school student participation in public schools;
· Schools no longer receiving state remediation funds;
· Test administration and test security policies and procedures; and
· Numbers of Adjusted diplomas.
In order to increase public access to information published by the Bureau, a new website has been developed for public access: www.leg.state.nv.us/Division/fiscal/LeBeape.cfm. The following documents will be available on the website:
· State Data Tables;
· List of Effective Remedial Programs;
· Guidelines for Data Collection of State Funded Remedial Programs;
· School Profiles of Low Performing Schools;
· Nevada School District Accountability Program: Review, Analysis and Recommendations; and
· Bureau Annual Report.
Pursuant to NRS 218.686, the Bureau staffers, as program analysts, have been assigned to examine the following agencies’ budgets/funds with special regard to their activities:
· WICHE (Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education);
· Commission on Postsecondary Education;
· Higher Education (pre-paid) Tuition Administration;
· Millennium Scholarship Administration;
· Business and Industry – Real Estate;
· Business and Industry – Consumer Affairs;
· Business and Industry – Attorney for Injured Workers;
· Business and Industry – Employees Management Relations Board;
· Business and Industry – Commission for Hospital Patients;
· Business and Industry – Athletic Commission;
· Business and Industry – Dairy Commission;
· Public Defender;
· Ethics Commission;
· Indian Affairs Commission;
· Women’s Commission; and
· Licensing Boards.
Other fiscal responsibilities of the Bureau are as follows:
· Updating revenue data bases; and
· Attending Interim Finance Committee meetings.
¹Norm-referenced Tests (NRTs): Measure the skill level of an individual along a continuum, and the average skill level of a grade or other grouping can be computed. More useful to public policy-makers since these tests allow comparisons with other states. Answer the question, “Where does the performance of the individual rank relative to that of the reference group”?
² Criterion-referenced Tests (CRTs): Measure whether the individual or group demonstrates a specific level of skill -- either they meet the performance standard or they do not. Generally, comparisons with other states are not possible. Useful to teachers. Answers the question, “Is the criterion met?” with a yes or no answer. Either the child has the skill or he does not.