Next Up Blog

The economic conditions facing families as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency threaten the very survival of many private schools, as the tuition checks that go to pay teachers, staff and rent are no longer arriving.

We support school choice — that is not the question before us however. It is a question of preserving a schools sector that has played a crucial historic role in the fabric of our nation.


Families are always crucial partners with their children’s schools. In these days when we are all schooling-from-home, families are more crucial partners than ever before. How do we know if our children are learning everything they will be responsible for mastering at their grade level?  

We’ve streamlined the Nevada Academic Content Standards into easy-to-follow summaries, by grade level, for English Language Arts and math. For parents who want more details, you can access the full content standards documents here. Whether your child attends district-run public schools, charter schools or most private schools, the content standards are the same.

For parents who want to learn more, we highly recommend the “What Your xxth Grader Needs to Know,” series of books by eminent education professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., which are available from Amazon or directly from the Core Knowledge Foundation:

Here are the Kindergarten and First Grade standards. Over the coming weeks, we will be adding additional grade levels, so please check back. And please send us your questions, as always, to

Author’s note:  Over the past two years I have watched my now eleven-year-old daughter struggle with math. As I see her grades slipping, I wonder if she is truly learning and retaining everything she needs to know in order to be successful at the next grade level. Now that we have entered a time of remote online learning, I worry that she won’t be ready for next year. While she seems to be grasping the things being taught now better than she ever did inside a traditional classroom, there is still that nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that next year is going to be an even bigger struggle than this one. So the big question is, what should she be mastering at her current grade level?

Kindergarten ELA/Reading

  • Ask and answer questions regarding key details in things they have read
  • Retell familiar stories, and include key details
  • Identify characters, settings and major events in their readings
  • Ask and answer questions about words they do not know
  • Ask questions with the intent of gaining understanding
  • Identify the author and illustrator, book cover and title page and explain what each does
  • Understand how print is organized (for example, following words from left to right and top to bottom)
  • Match book illustrations with the moments in the text they are portraying
  • Work in a group to read and discuss books that have been read
  • Compare and contrast basic similarities and differences of written works
  • Read common sight words (the, my, she, is, etc.)
  • Understand that written words represent spoken words, and that words are made up by combinations of letters
  • Understand basic grammar, such as capitalizing the first word in a sentence and being able to name punctuation
  • Identify all, and write most, letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lowercase
  • Use a blend of drawing, writing, and speaking to create a work that conveys their opinion, a series of events, or information
  • Understand syllables and sounds in words (for example, be able to rhyme)
  • Take turns in conversations, with both peers and adults
  • Able to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly when talking
  • Use plural nouns when speaking
  • Acquire vocabulary by realizing new meanings for familiar words
  • Recognize the opposite of some verbs
  • Use vocabulary acquired through conversations and being read to

Kindergarten Math

  • Count by ones and tens to 100
  • Count forward when starting somewhere other than 1
  • Write numbers from 0-20
  • Count objects
  • Understand that when counting objects, the total stays the same even if the order the objects are in changes
  • Compare objects
  • Be able to compare two written numbers between 1 and 10 
  • Displaying addition and subtraction by using objects, such as fingers, as well as mental images, drawings, clapping or other sounds
  • Understand and solve word problems containing addition or subtraction 
  • Understand that numbers can be made up of a variety of groupings ( 4 = 3 + 1 and  4 = 2 + 2)
  • Add and subtract up to 5 fluently
  • Describe and compare measurable attributes
  • Place objects into categories (food, shapes, etc.) and count the objects in each category
  • Recognize and describe shapes
  • Compare and contrast shapes

1st Grade ELA/Reading

  • Read and understand grade-level informational text 
  • Ask and answer questions about key details in written texts
  • Retell stories and informational texts, with key details to describe setting, events and characters, as well as prove comprehension of the message of the text
  • Use illustrations to describe characters, settings, and events
  • Identify who is telling the story at a variety of points throughout the story
  • Identify words and phrases in texts that suggest feelings
  • Explain major differences between works of fiction and nonfiction texts
  • Compare and contrast stories, including the experiences of the characters, or two texts written on the same topic
  • Recognize details used by an author to support the point
  • Describe the connections between two pieces of informational texts, including individuals, events or ideas
  • Read grade-level poetry
  • Ask and answer questions to determine the meaning of words and and phrases, as well as using context clues
  • Use features of a text to find information in a text, for example, table of contents, glossary, etc.
  • Identify information provided by illustrations and pictures, as well as information from the words in a text
  • Identify the basic features of a sentence
  • Understand long and short vowel sounds in single-syllable words
  • Blend sounds to say single-syllable words
  • Break single-syllable words up into their complete sequence of individual sounds
  • Able to take apart one syllable words by matching letters to sounds
  • Understand vowel team conventions for long vowel sounds
  • Recognize vowels in syllables, and how to count syllables
  • Identify the the corresponding spelling to sounds for common consonant letter blends, such as sh, ch, and th
  • Read words that end in -ing, -ed, -es, -s
  • Identify grade-appropriate words that do not follow a common phonics pattern
  • Read grade-level texts out loud with accuracy at an appropriate rate of speed
  • Use context in the text to self-correct misread words
  • Write structured opinion pieces that include the topic, an opinion, the reason for the opinion, and a closing.
  • Write structured informative texts that include the topic, facts, and a closing.
  • Write a narrative that retells at least two events in the proper order, and includes details, temporal words for event order, and a closing.
  • Respond to questions and suggestions from peers regarding a topic, and use those conversations to add details to their writing 
  • Research, and write about, a topic (for example, have your child read a “how to” book and write sequence of instructions)
  • Recall information from experiences, or use information contained in provided sources, to answer questions
  • Participate in grade-level discussions by listening, taking turns talking, asking and answering questions, in a manner that builds on what others have said
  • Express ideas clearly when speaking by using descriptions of people, places, things and events
  • Clarify verbal ideas with drawings or other visuals when needed
  • Print all letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lowercase
  • Use nouns appropriately (common, proper, possessive, singular and plural)
  • Use personal possessive pronouns
  • Use verbs to show past, present, and future
  • Use frequently occurring adjectives, conjunctions, and prepositions
  • Use determiners (words used to introduce a noun, for example, the cookie, a bunny)
  • Form complete declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences
  • When writing, capitalize dates and names, use end punctuation, use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series, correctly spell frequently used words, spell unknown words phonetically
  • Sort words into categories (colors, clothing, food)
  • Define words by category and one or more attribute (a lizard is a reptile that has legs)
  • Recognize the real-life connections between words and the way they are used
  • Understand different meanings of verbs used in different manner (look, peek, glance, stare)
  • Use vocabulary acquired from conversations, reading, and being read to

1st Grade Math

  • Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction up to 20 by using objects, drawings, and equations to represent the problem
  • Solve word problems that call for adding of three whole numbers
  • Use properties of operations as a strategy to solve problems (if 7 + 3 = 10, then 3 + 7 = 10)
  • Be able to solve subtraction as an unknown-addend (10-4, find the number that can be added to 4 to make 10)
  • Relate counting to addition and subtraction 
  • Fluently add and subtract up to 20
  • Know the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if addition and subtraction equations are true or false (3 = 3, 5 + 2 = 7, 4 – 2 = 2)
  • Find an unknown whole number in an addition or subtraction equation that involves 3 whole numbers (7 + ? = 12, 3 + 4 = ?, 8 = ? – 5)
  • Count, read, and write numbers up to 120 starting with a number other than 1
  • Understand place value of ones and tens
  • Properly use >, =, and < to compare numbers
  • Add within 100, including adding two-digit and one-digit numbers
  • Find 10 more or 10 less than any given number without having to count
  • Subtract multiples of 10 in the range of 10-90 
  • Organize three objects by length, compare length of objects
  • Measure and express lengths as a whole number of length units (the pencil is 3 paper clips long)
  • Use analog and digital clocks to tell and write time in hours and half-hours
  • Organize, show, and interpret data with up to three categories
  • Recognize the difference between defining attributes (squares have four sides) and non-defining attributes (color)
  • Draw two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes, combine these shapes to make new shapes
  • Divide circles and rectangles into 2 and 4 equal parts, use wholes, halves, and quarters to describe the parts

Stay tuned, Nevada Action for School Options will be adding Nevada Content Standards summaries for other grade levels in the days and weeks to come.

As we speak with Nevada’s private school leaders, educators and families this week, our gratitude and appreciation for their leadership in this health emergency grows each day.

The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program from the Small Business Administration is proving a crucial lifeline for private schools to keep operating during this time.  It is a forgivable loan program that is available to nonprofits and businesses, including private schools.  Organizations must apply through their banks and financial institutions.

Given the great demand for the program, we are strongly encouraging schools to apply today, April 3.

Organizations that are eligible for this program include nonprofit organizations and businesses that have under 500 employees; however businesses in specific industries that have more than 500 employees but are considered small according to SBA Size Standards might still be eligible.

In order to get the loans forgiven there are rules regarding how the money must be spent. In addition, the payroll provisions contain requirements that businesses must maintain staff and payroll for the loan duration.  This linked document contains crucial details you will need to reference.

Program documents hold specific instructions for faith-based schools. Of importance: schools may not use the money to pay a priest, rabbi or clergy, or the mortgage on the sanctuary. The money can be used for school payroll costs and school rents/mortgage/utilities.  We encourage you to be conscious of the percentages allowed for the latter mentioned expenses.

In addition, according to the interim rule, schools that accept SBA loans/grants will not be subject to intrusive action or regulation by the SBA related to practices connected with their religious activities, including employment.

The interim rule is also valuable in satisfying potential issues of government funding religious entities directly for religious activities, which is not allowed under the First Amendment as interpreted by the US Supreme Court, and the inclusion of RFRA addresses the issue of government intrusion into the affairs of religiously affiliated entities.

One issue not addressed by the interim rule relates to schools that wish to remain entities which do not accept government funds. We recommend that schools who wish to remain such, but need the SBA loan/grant to keep the school going, create a company document approved by your board indicating that this is one-time emergency relief funding occurring during a national emergency and that your action in accepting the SBA loan/grant in no way indicates a change in their operating procedures or mission.

Again, we encourage schools to act swiftly. If you have any questions or need please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

We need to recognize that reliable transportation is critical as magnet schools, private schools, and charter schools in Nevada strive to increase the number of lower-income students they serve.

Depending on public transportation, unfortunately means that sometimes the only thing that can be depended on are problems. One of my closest friends shared with me her experience when she and her husband first moved to the Las Vegas Valley. Her husband used public transportation when he was working for the plumbers and pipefitters union. He only used public transportation on his days off and remembers the struggles it caused. He had to find other means of transportation to get to work, because he knew if he was using public transportation he would be late. 

Residents need to be able to count on reliable, affordable transportation. Without having access to reliable transportation, it limits employment options for residents. Their choices are narrowed down to what is near where they live.

Reliable public school transportation is a vital element for a healthy school system. The public school district transportation system should be a safe and effective way for students to travel to school. Without a dependable school bus system, students and parents are left with little options, especially families whose neighborhood school is one that persistently struggles with the quality of education.

In their recent report published by EdChoice, Transporting School Choice Students A Primer on States’ Transportation Policies Related to Private, Charter, and Open Enrollment Students, Michael Q. McShane and Michael Shaw explain that school transportation is inextricably linked to school options. We need to take a look at what we know, what we need to know, and what we can do to improve.

  1. What Do We Know?

We know that currently there is not an option for a school options transportation system in Nevada. 

McShane and Shaw share with us plenty of evidence that shows when students travel for school, they attend markedly better schools than their peers. Interestingly enough, this is still true among students who attend schools of choice. Students who use transportation to travel farther than their peers, tend to go to a higher-quality school than their peers, even if their peers are also attending a choice school. 

We also know that there is a shortage of school bus drivers in Nevada. The process to become a licensed school bus driver in Nevada is lengthy and filled with regulations. 

The problem is complex, however a few key takeaways are private and charter schools, as well as out-of-boundary schools, do not receive any funds that could allow them to implement a transportation system, there is a bus driver shortage, and because of regulations there seems to be no solution in mind other than a typical school bus.

  1. What Do We Need to Know?

We need to recognize that transportation is critical as magnet schools, private schools, and charter schools in Nevada strive to increase the number of lower-income students they serve. Nevada’s charter school community as a whole has made improving this disparity a major goal, and it is a central tenet  of the State Public Charter School Authority’s strategic growth plan. When comparing demographics of students at Nevada’s State-Sponsored charter schools and all of Nevada’s public schools, the biggest disparity has been found among FRL students. Currently 65% of students at Nevada’s public schools qualify for free and reduced lunch, where only 35% of state-sponsored charter school students qualify.

Transportation can be the single biggest equalizer for lower income families who do not have safe and ready access, and so do not have the same options for schooling. Offering transportation would allow lower income families more private school options.

The report from EdChoice compared transportation available for private and charter school students in a state-by-state summary. 31 states have made transportation funding or services available to charter students, with 17 of those states mandating that charter school student transportation funding is either equal, or roughly equivalent, to public school district students. Nevada is currently one of the 20 states that do not offer transportation services or funds to state-sponsored charter schools.

EdChoice’s breakdown of their state-by-state comparison for private school transportation shows us that “…29 states have provisions to provide transportation for private school students. Of those states, seven mandate transportation services or funding at levels equivalent or roughly equivalent to those of public district school students.” Again, Nevada is one of the 22 states that do not offer transportation services or funds to private school students.

  1. What Do We Do?

It’s time to take a look at what other states are offering. By comparing our services to theirs, we can find ways to fill in the gaps we currently have, which may mean working with school districts to collaborate on a transportation plan.

In Colorado, for example, if a charter school’s charter includes a provision for transportation, the charter school and the school district collaborate to create a plan to provide school district equipment to transport charter students. 

Another thought worth considering is loosening some of the regulations that are required for transporting students, specifically when it involves charter and private schools. Ride sharing is ever increasing in popularity, and might prove itself to be a feasible option that saves money, if policy changes were made to allow for other options than just a standard school bus.

Currently, rigid state regulations governing where school bus drivers receive their training are also worth examining to explore possible alternatives that could add flexibility without compromising safety provisions.

As the RTC struggles with losing revenue as more and more riders turn to ride sharing, perhaps partnering with the RTC might be a solution. There is a wide variety of possibilities to explore. Could the RTC create routes that would benefit students attending charter and private schools? If they did, would it increase their revenue? Perhaps charter and private schools could partner with the RTC in a way that cuts down the costs for schools, and still increases revenue for the RTC.

Schooling transportation is a big issue to solve. However, as we work together as an education community to improve equitable access to quality schooling options for all families, finding solutions will be vital.

We are thrilled to announce that Ashley Campbell has joined us as the newest member of our Nevada Action for School Options team. A lifelong Nevadan and admired leader within the Las Vegas education community, Ashley has most recently been driving different initiatives for the Pinecrest Foundation as its assistant director.

In her new position as Chief of Staff, Ashley’s talent for bringing community members together with contagious enthusiasm for initiatives that make a difference that matters for education (for learners as well as for educators) will be ever more essential as Nevadans navigate these trying, unprecedented times. You can reach her at  Please reach out when you can, and please keep letting us know how we can be helpful to you.

Best of luck in your new role, Ashley. We feel honored to have such a widely-admired force for education good choose us for your new professional home.