COUNCIL TO ESTABLISH ACADEMIC STANDARDS
FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
(Nevada Revised Statutes 389.510)
The Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools consists of an eight-member panel, with four members appointed by the Governor, including two parents and two licenced educators. The remaining four members are appointed by legislative leadership and include two legislators, one from each house. The council is required to establish academic standards of content and performance in English language arts; mathematics; science; social studies (which includes history, geography, economics, and government); the arts; computer education and technology; health; and physical education. In addition, the council must ensure that the standards for mathematics and English be done for each grade for kindergarten through the eighth grade. Further, the council is charged with establishing a schedule for the periodic review of those standards, for assigning priorities. Finally, the body is required to recommend examinations associated with the standards and work with the State Board of Education to establish those exams.
Committee Proceedings and Major Issues
Senate Bill 482 of the 1997 Legislative Session created a temporary nine-member council to establish academic standards for public schools. The council found it necessary to hire contractors to supplement the administrative services provided by the staff of the State Department of Education. Christopher Cross of the Council for Basic Education (CBE) was chosen to serve as “counselor” and to assist the standards council and its writing teams in drafting rigorous, measurable academic standards. That contractual relationship has been renewed for Phase II during the 1999-2001 biennium. The council reviewed and recommended statewide standards in English, math, and science before September 1, 1998. In a joint meeting with the State Board of Education, those standards were adopted in August 1998. These Phase I standards took effect within the public schools during the 1999‑2000 school year. The 1999 Legislature acted to make the council permanent and adjusted the timetable for certain council activities, delaying implementation of statewide tests linked to the standards.
During the council’s Phase II activities (beginning in 1999), standards in the arts, computer education, health/physical education, and social studies were written. These standards have been undergoing public review and are currently scheduled for a final review and adoption at the council’s March 8, 2000, meeting. Additionally, the council has received public input on the Phase II standards from teachers, parents, and school board members. It has also received reports from school districts concerning their assessment activities and potential assessment needs with regard to the proposed standards. The council continues to make periodic progress reports to the Legislative Committee on Education.
A dispute over services provided by CBE was resolved in the fall of 1999—the Legislative Committee on Education approved the action taken by the Interim Finance Committee for the payment of $93,835 from the State Contingency Fund for work performed in the past fiscal year by CBE, reserving a like amount from the committee’s budget to revert to that fund at the end of the current biennium. In addition, the committee voted to approve the council’s work plan for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001 for work to be performed by CBE, which includes allocating the remaining $91,000 that was earmarked for council consulting needs from the committee’s budget.
Future activities by the council, as outlined in their work plan, include approval of the Phase II standards (including social studies) and the prioritization of Nevada’s core academic standards. In late spring, the council will approve the “fill in” grades to meet requirements for grade-by-grade standards, and in the summer, assessments (tests) linked to the standards will be evaluated.
PS/sfr:ed/misc/advisory chairs sum