Nevada’s Charter School Graduates Require Less College Remediation

More than half of incoming students matriculating at institutions belonging to the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) require placement in remedial programs, according to the system’s leaders.

Data from NSHE indicates that Nevada’s charter school students require remedial placement at significantly lower rates than other Nevada public high school graduates.

NSHE Remedial Placement, Classes of 2015 and 2016

Charter High SchoolAverage % Placed in Remediation
Beacon Academy67.9%
Nevada Virtual Academy55.3%
Nevada Connections Academy54.2%
Nevada State High School41.9%
Coral Academy of Science NV (Clark)30.6%
Coral Academy of Science (Washoe) 30.6%
Total State Charter Authority High Schools48.8%
Nevada State Public School Average52.7%
Clark County School District (traditional)55.1%
Carson City School District44.5%
Elko County School District53.6%
Lyon County School District50.0%
Washoe County School District (traditional)45.6%

Nevada System of Higher Education, Department of Institutional Research, 2019

Chancellor Thom Reilly has declared it a top leadership priority to rebuild his system’s system of remediation to better foster student success in their pursuit of higher education attainment. He is respected for working collaboratively with elementary and secondary education leaders, like Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara and others, to better align both systems so that high school graduates are better prepared for the academic rigors awaiting them. That work signifies an important beginning.

The average rate for Nevada high school graduates, as incoming students to NSHE institutions, requiring placement into remedial programs (for either English Language Arts or math) was 52.7 percent for the two most recent years which NSHE has studied.

Overall, graduates of charter high schools overseen by the State Public Charter School Authority were placed in remediation programs at a lower rate, 48.8 percent, than the state average.

These rates of required remediation vary widely for graduates of different high schools across Nevada.

Nevada’s Coral Academy of Science graduates, in both Northern and Southern Nevada, posted the lowest rates of remediation placement of any open-enrollment public high school in Nevada over the most recent two-year period as measured by NSHE: the high school classes of 2015 and 2016 averaged just 30.6 percent remedial placement in both locations.

Nevada State High School graduates also posted college remedial placement rates well below the state average, at 41.9 percent. In addition this Las Vegas charter high school (which has since expanded to other locations), with its strong emphasis on dual-enrollment courses, posted an astonishing 4-year cohort graduation rate of 99 percent for this same graduating class.

A distinct disappointment for Nevada’s charter sector was the high rates of remedial placement required for graduates of its two statewide virtual charter schools. Students enrolling in NSHE institutions from Nevada Connections Academy and Nevada Virtual Academy each required remediation at the college level more than 54 percent of the time, above the state average and the collective remediation rates of all of its five largest school districts. Additionally, these two schools also posted among the sector’s lowest four-year cohort graduation rates.

Beacon Academy in Las Vegas, whose graduates posted the charter sector’s highest rates of remediation, is a specialized alternative high school structured to meet the specific needs of credit-deficient students.

Of course, wide ranges in remediation rates are also common among traditional district schools. For instance, within the Clark County School District, even among graduates of non-selective high schools with 4-year graduation rates closest to 80 percent, Chaparral High School had the highest remediation rate at 83 percent, followed by Centennial (58 percent), Rancho (56 percent) and Silverado (52 percent), with the lowest rates of remediation for Desert Oasis graduates at 48 percent.

Providing graduates with the academic foundations to be “college and career ready” is widely viewed to be as crucial as any goal in elementary and secondary education. Last fall, when Nevada high school juniors posted their first statewide improvements in scores on the ACT exam in the four years, this development was widely described by education officials as a positive step toward improving readiness. It would also be useful for NSHE officials to track how Nevada’s private high school graduates fare with regard to needed remediation as well.

Chancellor Reilly’s strategy of monitoring remediation placements holds real value for education policymakers, educators and families alike. Placement data for the Class of 2017 will be released soon, and hopefully can trigger more data-informed deliberation about what is working, and what should be working better, to move Nevada’s high school graduates to a stronger position of readiness.