Next Up Blog

New Private Security Guard Requirements

AB 184

Proposes to increase the requirements, including training requirements and screenings, for private security officers, including those working in public or private schools.  It would also specify penalties for crimes committed against a security guard.

Private security guards who carry firearms would be required to complete 40 hours of specific, comprehensive new training.  Guards not authorized to carry firearms would be required to complete other training sessions.  Screening for controlled substances, other than marijuana, would also be required.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Members Miller, Benitez-Thompson, Monroe-Moreno, Fumo, McCurdy and Thompson, is referred to the Commerce and Labor Committee.

School Safety

SB 142

Sponsored by Assembly Members Tolles, Spiegel and Roberts, updates requirements for all public, including district and charter schools, focused on school safety.

The bill contains specific requirements for school safety teams, including members with specific school roles and qualifications, including a school psychologist or social worker.  It also assigns to school safety committees ongoing obligations to review and address bullying and cyber-bullying.

It also strengthens and updates the schools SafeVoice Program to ensure confidential reporting relating to any dangerous, violent or unlawful activities at schools, on school buses, or by enrolled pupils.

School choice programs had positive net fiscal impacts on school districts when student funding was weighted.  Half of the school districts studied benefited fiscally from the resulting student transfers from the implementation of private school choice. Source: State and District Fiscal Effects of a Universal Education Savings Account Program in Arkansas Julie R. Trivitt, Ph.D. Corey A. DeAngelis January 24, 2017 EDRE Working Paper 2017-04.

Question of the Week

“What is Nevada’s higher education system doing to lower the cost of higher education?”

Asked by Senator Dallas Harris of NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly at Feb 20 hearing

Opportunity Scholarship Students Post Important Academic GrowthEarlier this month, the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) published its first report assessing academic outcomes of students in the Nevada Opportunity Scholarship Program.   The analysis showed encouraging results: 68.4 percent of students participating in the program for all three of its years were determined to show positive score change; 65.7 percent of students in the program for two consecutive students also posted outcomes deemed positive by the NDE analysts.

It is important to observe that these results were measured on six different assessments different students were administered under the rules of the program. The law (AB165) which established the Opportunity Scholarship program allowed participating private schools to select the test they used, and the dates it is given, from a list of norm-referenced assessments approved by the NDE.

Some lawmakers, and particularly Moises (Mo) Denis, chair of Nevada’s Senate Education Committee, have on numerous occasions expressed their intent to review student outcomes for the program as part of their oversight process.

So, how do these results compare with test scores for Nevada’s public school students? The answer, unfortunately, is complicated.

One major complicating factor is that Smarter Balanced assessment which public school students in Nevada are administered, is a criterion-referenced assessment, in which a student’s performance is compared to a specific learning objective or achievement standard (e.g., state standards) and not the performance of other students. On the other hand, norm-referenced assessments (the type used in this program), compare students’ performance with that of a larger sample (the norm group), frequently a national sample representing a representatively diverse cross-section of students.

Can results on these different tests be compared meaningfully? Yes, when done using certain, valid methodologies. Outcomes on the different norm-referenced assessments can be usefully compared, especially when examining the growth of individual students over time, as the NDE report does.

In similar ways, it is also even possible to consider student growth of these students with the growth of Nevada’s public school students on the state assessments. For sake of comparison, between 2017 and 2018, Nevada’s public school students in grades 3-8 gained one percentage point of proficiency in English Language arts, and 1.5 percentage points in grades 3-7 in math (excluding eighth grade because of curricular content changes in math which produced test score anomalies).

Of course, the two student populations here contain various essential differences: only lower-income students are eligible to participate in the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the NDE study only included students enrolled in the same school for consecutive years, etc.

It is quite common among the nation’s top charter school oversight authorities to evaluate the effectiveness of schools in their purview using students’ longitudinal growth on these same norm-referenced assessments. This practice allows them to evaluate these schools’ performance with students over the time they are enrolled without penalizing schools that go out of their way to attract those previously underserved students who need them most.

These same norm-referenced assessments also hold important educational value to schools which use the results for individual students formatively, to help classroom teachers target specific instructional interventions and lessons. Some Nevada private schools give the assessments as many as three times each year for this purpose.

The NDE report met the legislature’s requirement for the program. In future years, if policymakers want to strengthen the evaluation, they would be well served to consider doing what other states, including Florida, have done, and assign modest funding to allow the state’s colleges of education to bid for the quantitative analysis work. In the hands of experts like these, the norming and standardization scales used be each test published can be evaluated with methodology allowing for broader, more robust, and easier-compared analyses.

Meanwhile, educators and families involved with the Opportunity Scholarship Program have good reason to express pride in these student outcomes, and hope that policymakers will accept them as strong indications of its educational value for the students it serves.


The first public meetings of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Education were predictably uneventful, ushering in new members with degrees of experiences relating to the committees’ work.

The Senate committee, after welcoming remarks, two overview briefings, and some admirable humor from Chairman Mo Denis, heard two bills: SB 100 (Woodhouse) to expedite teacher licensure and employment by schools for military veterans and spouses, received to unanimous praise, and committee-sponsored SB 80, to promote a safe and respectful learning environment in schools, which various speakers expressed enthusiasm for provided certain implementing details can be resolved.

The Assembly Education Committee’s introductory meeting offered some potential glimpses of business to come. Two highlights were a tribute to Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero and his tenure, and a moving presentation by leaders of Nevada’s School Counselor Association.

A remark by Chairman Tyrone Thompson may tip off one theme for his leadership in the coming months. “We’ve been hearing the narrative about the need,” Thompson observed about discussions relating to adding resources to support students’ mental health and social and emotional development needs. Then he added, “We also need, as legislators, to understand the true need.” In the coming months, prolonged deliberations over funding formulas and levels for Nevada public schools, was the chairman signaling a posture for those proceedings?

Las Vegas Assemblywoman and new Education Committee member Bea Duran provided another noteworthy moment in her introductory remarks. Invoking Clark County’s dramatic population growth as framing a challenge for the committee’s work during the 2019 session, “We’re going to keep growing,” Duran noted. “I think we need to find a solution to keep up with the growth.”

Last month, any discussion of the education challenges of keeping up with Southern Nevada’s unrelenting projected population growth (building schools, adding new teachers, etc.) was conspicuously absent from Governor Sisolak’s State of the State Address. How will these, indeed pressing, challenges characterize the Legislature’s work, and commitments, on education during the 2019 session as the dialogue returns, again and again, to school budget matters? We’ll keep watching.

For families living in the 89031 zip code of North Las Vegas, the quality of accessible school choices is quite limited overall. In fact, 65 percent of students living in its 21,770 households attend one- or two- star public schools, according to the state rating system where five-star schools represent the highest performers.

The zip code plays home to one four-star school, four three-star schools, three two-star schools, and two one-star schools. Households in the 89031 zip code have a median income of $63,000, or more than 10 percent above the average for Clark County – demonstrating that above-average income levels do not always translate to above-average schools.

Addeliar Guy Elementary earned the zip code’s lone four-star rating, boosted by strong student growth scores in math and English. While less than half of Addeliar Guy students scored at grade level proficiency, they scored a 67 and 62 in its math and English Median Growth Percentile (MGP), respectively, well above the state and county average. These scores indicate that for students with identical proficiency levels on last year’s test, students at Addeliar Elementary are growing their math performance faster than 67 percent of them, and ahead of 62 in English. All students enrolled at the school, all of them qualify for free or reduced lunch programs.

The zip code also houses a handful of three-star schools, including Eva G Simmons Elementary, Lee Antonello Elementary, Raul P Elizondo Elementary and Steve Cozine Elementary. Clifford O. Findlay Middle School earned a two-star rating with Eva Wolfe Elementary and Fredric W. Watson Elementary earning one-star ratings.

Mojave High School – the zip code’s lone high school – earned a two-star rating. The school graduated 85 percent of its students within four years. It should be noted, however, that only two percent of 11th grade students scored a 22 on the ACT, typically a baseline of college readiness. The 22 is the baseline number that a student does not need to repeat high school work once they get to college.

Out of the school’s 2,508 students, 70 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch and 19 percent are English Language Learners. Mojave also features a 30 percent transiency rate – one of the highest in Clark County School District. The transiency rate is determined by the percentage of students who do not finish at the same school they started. The school also saw 46 percent of its student miss more than 18 days of school.

On the bright side, 54 percent of students took courses that prepared them for education beyond college – meaning they took an Advanced Placement Course, International Baccalaureate, Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment, and/or Career and Technical Education classes.

The zip code is home to one state charter school – Legacy Traditional School, which teaches grades six through eight – which earned a two-star rating. There are two private schools in the area: Kids Campus Learning Center (kindergarten only) and University Baptist Academy (kindergarten through 12th grade). A charter school nearby, Somerset Academy’s North Las Vegas campus, offers a two-star rated elementary school and a three-star rated middle school.

For more information on the performance of public schools in Clark County, visit the GreatSchoolsAllKids website operated by Opportunity 180.

With no public charter or private schools, the 89156 zip code in East Clark County remains woefully underserved by quality school options. None of the five schools rated above two-stars, with a bulk of students in the 10,616 households finding themselves in one-star schools (3,210 students) as rated by the Nevada’s School Performance Framework.

Bailey Middle School was revealed last year to be in the bottom-10 middle schools in the Clark County School District in per-pupil expenditures on instructional salaries. It should also be noted that none of the schools received additional funding from the state’s Zoom or Victory school programs.

While Nevada does offer choice options, including public charter schools, demand exceeds supply and families must often place themselves onto long waitlists, where they are bound to the luck of the draw.  Even if a student is accepted, families likely need to make significant commutes to attend these schools. In fact, the closest public charter schools to the zip code: Mater Bonanza Academy, Futuro Academy and Equipo Academy would require roughly a 25 minute commute, which only makes finding free public options difficult for families. Private school options are even more limited.

The 89156 zip code is home to four one-star schools, the state’s lowest rating (Bailey Middle, Herr Elementary, Martin Luther King Elementary and Mountain View Elementary). None of these schools improved their ranking from 2016.  While students scored below grade-level proficiency, they also generally demonstrated well below average academic growth over time.

Hickey Elementary School, the zip code’s lone two-star school, earned a 59 (above average) score for student growth in math, and a slightly-below-average 49 in English.  Four out of 10 of its students are on track to be proficient in math and English within three years. Roughly 31 percent of students are on or above grade level, and 34 percent of students in the third grade are reading at or above grade level.

Of the one-star schools, Bailey Middle School and Herr Elementary students showed academic growth at or near the state’s average in math and in English.   Of the remaining one-star schools, Martin Luther King Elementary students had earned below-average scores of 40 and 42 in math and English, while Mountain View students scored some of the lowest growth scores in the state, at 32 in math and 36 in English.

The average median household income is $47,541, which trails the Clark County average of $54,882. Forty-four percent of the zip code is Hispanic, and 11 percent is Black or African-American. Seventy-five percent of residents own a high school diploma or higher, compared to the 85 percent in Clark County.

For more information on the performance of public schools in Clark County, visit the GreatSchoolsAllKids website operated by Opportunity 180.