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Facing the Challenges of Meeting AYP

The massive Clark County (Nevada) School District has seen success in having staff meet the highly qualified requirement, and hopes some new approaches will help its Title I schools meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards. Included: A district's approach to helping student subgroups meet AYP.

The Clark County (Nevada) School District is refocusing its efforts on teacher training and retention to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act at the same time it is meeting the huge range of needs of its increasingly diverse student population and continually building new schools to house a population that increases by as many as 10,000 students a year.

District officials also have found that an extensive pre-kindergarten program that is funded with Title I money and is closely connected to kindergarten and primary programs improves children's readiness for learning.


The district is well-positioned in the area of highly qualified staff. The 52 Title I schools in Clark County, which include both school wide and targeted assistance programs, employ 432 paraprofessionals in various job descriptions, such as teacher family aides, instructional assistants, library aides, physical education aides, and special program aides (special education). More than half of these paraprofessionals meet the NCLB requirements. Many have two years of college or an associate's degree, and many more have passed the paraprofessional test chosen by the state of Nevada (the Praxis exam). Others are preparing to take the test. The district pays for the cost of taking the test, but employees who do not pass will have to pay for further test taking sessions. For those paraprofessionals who choose to take classes at the local community college, the district pays the cost of tuition and books. Some of the paraprofessionals intend to become teachers, and the district wants to support them in that endeavor.

The Clark County School District employs 14,592 teachers, of which 995 -- fewer than 7 percent -- do not meet the NCLB requirements for being highly qualified. The main concern is with teachers of math and science in middle and high schools. Professional development decisions are made by individual schools. Schools frequently select their areas of training, and the district provides technical assistance as needed.


Most of Clark County's 52 Title I schools are having difficulty with meeting the requirements for adequate yearly progress. Four schools are in the second year of school improvement and 14 are in their first year. The other 30, although they have made progress, did not meet AYP in 2003 -- most often because of the subgroups, such as the English language learner group and students with disabilities.

Clark County students speak 57 different languages, but most of the district's English language learners are Spanish-speaking. Many of these students are in bilingual programs in the early grades, but after second grade, they are transitioned to English instruction, with the goal of bringing them to English proficiency and raising achievement in reading, writing, math, and science.

A new proficiency test is being developed by the state to replace the current language assessments in order to provide a measure of subject area proficiency as required by NCLB. About one- fourth of the elementary schools have bilingual programs in the primary grades, a situation that may change in the future as the achievement of ELL students is reviewed.

Each Title I school has a team that is reviewing where are they now, where they have to go, and how are they going to get there. The district is working with the Nevada state education department and the Pulliam group in this task. District officials believe that effective leadership at school sites, including the principal and support personnel, is critical in bringing about high achievement. The goal is for principals and teachers to understand the importance of using programs and structured curriculum that are grounded in strong research and to focus their resources, fiscal and other, in a coordinated effort to improve student achievement.

The district is looking closely at each school and working with the team to improve the academic achievement of students with each region responsible for the improvement. They are looking at the use of scientific researched-based programs that have been proven to raise student achievement.

SOURCE: Center on Education Policy

To read the full report, see A Look Inside 33 School Districts: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Share Your NCLB Strategies

Education World's Working With NCLB feature highlights schools or districts with stories to share about how they are implementing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If you have a Working With NCLB story to share, send an e-mail toEllen Delisio.