LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Young people in Nevada are having problems in school.
Findings from the Nevada Kids Count 2013 data book showed a slight improvement from previous years, but still much room for improvement. The data was released by UNLV.
Designated ZOOM schools are trying to focus on the problems of Clark County Schools; 14 campuses received money from the state to help English Language Learners excel. That is a major challenge for CCSD as the valley's demographics have drastically changed.
"The kinds of changes that are happening and the growth that is occurring,it is something unfortunately I wished we had started a long time ago, but we didn't, but we have started now so we just need to keep it up," said State Senator Joyce Woodhouse.
Woodhouse chairs the Senate Committee on Education. She says ZOOM schools will address the challenges for two years. They are half way there, providing help for childen.
"Pre-K programs, full day kindergarten, we reduced class size, we are providing summer school and we provide teacher resource centers," Woodhouse said.
She hopes the ZOOM school model will be expanded after next year.
In the Kids Count report, very small gains were recorded in the areas of:
Fourth graders not proficent at reading: 75 percent in 2011. Down only slightly from 79 percent in 2005.
Eighth graders not proficient in math: 71 percent in 2011. Some improvement from 2005 when it was 79 percent.
High school students not graduating on time: 42 percent. Slight improvement from 2005 and 2006 at 44 percent.
Woodhouse says it's also very important to provide professional development for teachers.
Teach for America provides coaching and development for teachers, with a focus on schools serving low income/at risk children.
"We're able to find teachers that have grit, that have resolve and first and foremost believe that every student, regardless of their parents' income or their zip code, has the capability to learn, and we believe they can learn," said Managing Director Adam Johnson.
Johnson, like Sen. Woodhouse, also believes the academic success will happen gradually, but it will need community effort and support.
Sen. Woodhouse also suggests renovating and rehabilitating older school buildings, and keeping up with technology to improve children's education.
In the next couple of weeks, a legislative task force will meet as Nevada is changing the funding formula for students. Students with more needs will be allotted more funding with the hopes of raising achievement.