It is confirmed, Nevada students dead last in college preparedness

This week the administrators of the ACT test confirmed what was suspected a month ago when preliminary data were released, Nevada high school students are dead last in the nation in college preparedness.

Nevada students eked out a mere 17.7 points out of a possible 36 points, compared to a nationwide score of 20.8, which was down from 21 a year ago.

Nevada’s score plummeted from the previous year’s 21 points, largely because only 40 percent of students took the test then but the state now requires all students to take the ACT. Other states that made the test mandatory also saw declines as non-college bound students were added.

Additionally, as reported earlier, 90 percent of Nevada students failed to achieve benchmark scores on all four of the test categories — English, math, reading and science. ACT now reports that this compares to 34 percent nationally.

“This decline in overall readiness can be explained, in large part, by the addition this year of seven more states that funded the ACT for all 11th graders as part of their statewide testing programs,” ACT reported. “Scores went down significantly in each of those seven states, as expected, helping to drive the national average down. In contrast, 22 other states saw score increases this year, and another eight states saw no change. A total of 20 states administered the ACT to all public school graduates in this year’s class.” Only 18 states reported 100 percent participation.

Sixty-four percent of 2016 graduating seniors took the ACT compared to 59 percent of graduates the previous year and 52 percent in 2012.

Additionally, Nevada was dead last in percentage of students meeting the benchmark scores in each of the four categories, save one. In math, Mississippi students scored 1 point less.

Only 37 percent of Nevada students achieved the benchmark score in English, compared to 61 percent nationally. Only 26 met the reading benchmark, compared to 44 percent nationally. Just 21 percent scored adequately in math, compared to 41 percent in the nation. And 18 percent did well enough in science, compared to 36 percent.

“Last year, ACT issued a call to action, urging educators and policymakers to work to improve the education system as a whole,”ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda was quoted as saying in a press release. “While the drop in scores this year is not indicative of lower achievement overall, we are still seeing far too many students left behind by the nation’s education system. When a third of high school graduates are not well prepared in any of the core subject areas, college and career readiness remains a significant problem that must be addressed. It is critical that we continue to work hard to improve.”

The Las Vegas newspaper quoted Steve Canavero, state superintendent of public instruction, as saying the test results are unacceptable. “We can do more, and our students can do more, and our system can do more,” he said. “Poverty, mobility (and) diversity cannot be an excuse.”

That has yet to be proven.

ACT 2016 by state 1

ACT 2016 by state 2



29 comments on “It is confirmed, Nevada students dead last in college preparedness

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    Last place, again, Nevada’s ACT test scores stink!

    Yet another reason for the ESAs to be approved! And what is the Supreme court doing, reviewing whether our movie star wanna be District Attorney can have cameras in court rooms to further his show business ambitions!!

    Meanwhile thousands of families that do care about their children’s education are held hostage!

    Let Steve Wolfson wait and put our kids futures first!

  2. Barbara says:

    My daughter graduated last year and had very, very good ACT scores. She took the test one time, maxed the English and Reading sections and did very well on the Math and Science sections as well. She is now a freshman in college with academic scholarships that are paying for a little over half of her college costs.

    When she was in high school she volunteered for a mentoring program for incoming freshman. She was to do academic tutoring, introduce them to clubs and other activities, monitor attendance, keep them involved in school. She and her partner had about 10 freshman assigned to them.

    The district has what is called a no fail F meaning the kid can write his name on a paper and turn the paper in and receive a grade of 50 instead of a zero. Literally, no question has to be answered and they still get a grade of 50.

    What my daughter found was that kids would take a 50 in classes that they did not like intending to make the grade up in an “easy” class where they did not have to put out any effort to learn. The kids also found that the teacher would give them an easy assignment intended to raise the final grade to just passing.

    My daughter would try to set appointments with parents to advise them of the lack of attention to assignments and the lack of learning. Of the 10 freshman she had, only 1 was interested in improving his grades. None of the parents she called attended meetings; most said they did not speak English. When my daughter would talk to them in Spanish, they still did not show any interest.

    I picked her up from school one day in tears. She said the so called teacher had really come down on her for the lack of progress among her freshman. This was when I made her quit the program.

    When the district sets low standards they will get low performance. When parents refuse to hold their kids accountable and also have low standards, most kids will also adopt the expectations of their parents. No amount of money will cure this situation.

    My daughter attended a private school through the 8th grade. I could not afford the $20,000 tuition for private high school. I remember in 3rd grade I asked to see her homework. She made it quite clear to me that Mrs. Anderson had told her that 3rd graders should not rely on parents to make sure homework was done. As a 3rd grader it was now her responsibility and only her responsibility to see that all assignments were completed and turned in by the due date. I was informed I no longer needed to see her assignments. I quickly said, “Well if I don’t look at your assignments how will I know what your are being taught? And if I don’t know what you are being taught, how will I know if the education you are getting is worth the money I am paying.” She reluctantly handed over her homework.

    If the district wants better performance, standards have to be set in the early grades and mandatory appointments with parents have to be required. Competition goes a long way in raising standards where schools are engaged in educating and not babysitting.

  3. Patrick says:

    At least California did well.

  4. Only a third took the test.

  5. Steve says:

    What is the point in testing for college, those who are not planning or intending to attend any college?

  6. It offers a comparison between states and counties and districts. It should be used to determine whether a student merely gets an attendance certificate or a real diploma. The benchmarks could be lower for a high school diploma than that used to determine college preparedness.

  7. Steve says:

    I think it skews the numbers due to a totally different and human reason.


    Students not intending to attend a college are very likely to run the answer sheet as fast as possible just to escape the room. ACT (or CCR) is not used as part of the graduation requirements so I think a whole bunch of future carpenters and other trades simply blew the whole thing off.
    Even highly skilled trades like mine aren’t necessarily college, though a degree in engineering can be helpful, one from a school like ITT is just as good as any other. Mine came from Sylvania Tech School back in the day.
    College exams need not apply for skilled trades anymore than any of the so called “unskilled” trades.
    And there are a lot more of these careers than there are standard 4 year college required, careers.
    By Jr High a bunch of kids have figured out what they are interested in, by high school it becomes obvious to anyone watching what any particular student is interested in doing. We should be teaching, in large part, based on that first.

    I think the states requiring 100% student involvement in things that are simply irrelevant to the students is really useless in determining the quality of the education being provided.

  8. Rincon says:

    Steve is touching on one of the great deficiencies in our educational system. I believe high school students are still being taught for college prep while those who are better suited for trade school are neglected. The curricula are also questionable. High school students are taught to run sophisticated geometry proofs, but so far as I know, nobody teaches them how to replace a ballast in a fluorescent light fixture.

  9. Steve says:

    OR how the thing really works….

  10. Barbara says:

    Another reason why education needs to be managed at a local level. The Feds have no reason to be involved.

  11. Rincon says:

    I’m not sure how much difference it would make, except that our putative upward mobility would stall out more than ever. Locales with no money would have a much harder time providing a good education than those with high incomes.

    One answer that I see is that academics should not monopolize curriculum decisions. Business people and average citizens should participate as well.

  12. Patrick says:


    And when academics say that they ought to be more involved in business decisions, what is the normal response?

    Never understood the logic of asserting that a business person, with zero training or experience in education, should be welcomed into that environment.

  13. Barbara says:

    Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education as a political payoff to the teachers’ unions for their 1976 endorsement. I really think it would be a stretch to say education has improved due to federal involvement.

  14. Rincon says:

    I can understand your view, Steve, but one must decide the function of an education. I believe that the first 6-8 grades impart the general knowledge one needs to function well in our society. Beyond that, training for a career becomes more and more important as years pass. The role of a business person should be to place into the curriculum those skills that are needed to earn a living. I can testify that some of these skills are sorely wanting in otherwise intelligent employees when they arrive at my business.

    The role of the average citizens should be to rein in the common excesses of academics. They seem to feel strongly that we really, really need to get to know Shakespeare, but are a little dim about the aforementioned fluorescent light ballast.

    Barbara: Hard to say if you’re right or wrong, but I don’t think there’s much evidence for your belief. Please inform me if I am mistaken about that. I’m not terribly knowledgeable on the subject – too much Shakespeare, perhaps.There is some evidence for the opposite view though. Students score more highly on standardized tests today than they did years ago, although the reason is controversial. Google “Flynn effect” to find out more.

  15. Steve says:

    “The role of the average citizens should be to rein in the common excesses of academics.”

    Seems you were replying to Patrick, not me.

    Not sure which one (Patrick or I) would be more irritated by that!

    I do happen to agree about keeping academics at a distance when it come to operating an ongoing, for profit, concern.

  16. Rincon says:

    So whether academics should be in charge of curricula depends on who owns the schools? Maybe I’m missing something. You can’t be serious.

  17. Steve says:

    Patrick’s snark was about academics running business’s.

    But, consider, who runs universities? Administrators or teachers?

  18. Bill says:

    Rincon asks the right question. What is the purpose of a public education? In other words, why is it in a society’s interest to provide a public education to its citizens?

    We can all agree that citizens should have at least minimal skills in language and math to function. Beyond that, what is a proper role? Prepping for college is all well and good but is it a best utilization of scarce resources?

    We spend millions of public dollars on essentially a governmental monopoly. Education is run by and for the educators not teachers. Just like there is never enough narcotics for the addict, there is never enough money for educators.

    Dedicated men and women who are teachers are burdened with rules, regulations, standards, tests and legalities. Socrates couldn’t get a job in any school district in the United States and Abe Lincoln would be denied admission to most colleges and law schools.

    And Barbara, you are right. Parental involvement is crucial and demanding standards are prerequisites.

    In today’s society everyone is a victim and while we pay lip service to high expectations, in fact, we settle for mediocrity.

    One of the benefits of always setting low expectations is that those expectations are invariably met.

  19. Barbara says:

    What is the purpose of public education?

    From the Northwest Ordinance adopted by the Congress of Confederation in 1787, Article III

    “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

    The purpose of education is to enable human beings to live fully human lives. In order to achieve this goal, students must develop the virtues of character and thinking by means of careful study and practice. Parents and teachers are the best resources for such learning. Hillsdale College

  20. Rincon says:

    So is Shakespeare necessary to be a well rounded human being? Are the needs to have a well trained work force compatible with living “fully human lives? Are we to blindly follow the pronouncements of an ordinance of Congress from 1887 and of Hillsdale College just as good Muslims follow the words of Muhammad?

  21. Barbara says:

    A Classical Education for Modern Times
    Terrence O. Moore, Ph.D
    Professor of History, Hillsdale College

    Why, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the age of the internet, in a country that has long been addicted to the revolutionary and the novel, when almost everyone in the world of K-12 education is singing the chorus of “critical thinking skills for a twenty-first-century global economy,” should cutting-edge schools root themselves so deeply in the past? Is not newer always better? What could today’s young people learn from old books?

    Cultural literacy is not merely ornamental trivia. Our purpose is not to make Jeopardy champions. Rather, cultural literacy is essential to a nation and its citizens. A culturally illiterate America cannot live up to the demands placed upon us by history and the present condition of the world. A culturally illiterate individual cannot comprehend and navigate the vast areas of human knowledge essential to his political, economic, and moral well-being.

    The study of a language offers perhaps the best example, especially since human beings live by communicating. Everyone can talk, and most people can read and write on a “functional” level. A classical education requires more than functional literacy, however. It teaches students from an early age high standards of grammar, precision in word choice, and an eloquence that can emanate only from a love of the language. Throughout his education, the student will be exposed to the highest examples of eloquence attained by the greatest writers and speakers of the language.

    “. . . I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men . . .”

    “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

    “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

    “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    These sentences are entirely grammatical. They could just as easily be used to teach grammar as “I come to help Jane, not to hurt her.” By preferring Shakespeare to an anonymous “See Jane” sentence (usually not well written) we teach three things rather than one. We teach grammar. We teach cultural literacy. We also teach beauty. Our purpose is to introduce young people to the masters of the language so they themselves learn to employ the force and the beauty of the spoken and written word.

    The logical thinking that comes from mathematics and the sciences is no less important. Upholding standards is a principle of exclusion as much as of inclusion. Hillsdale does not pretend that all writing is equally good, that all human endeavors are equally important or beneficial to human life, or that all scientific theories are equally true. In choosing the elements of the curriculum—works of literature and art, events in history—our motto is that of Churchill: “I shall be satisfied with the very best.”

    The classical view of education holds that human beings are thinking creatures. Unlike other living beings, humans live by their intelligence. We want to know things. Specifically, we want to know what the things around us are and how they operate. We want to know who we are, where we come from, and what is expected of us. In short, we want to know the truth. From birth, the curiosity of children is astounding. Children observe everything around them. They pick up language at an astonishing rate. As soon as they begin to speak, they ask the question “What is it?” of everything that catches their attention. Children demonstrate what is true of all people: we are all natural learners. Any plan of education, therefore, should take advantage of young people’s natural curiosity. Schemes that stall children in their learning because “they are not ready for it” or it is not “age appropriate,” or that use various gimmicks that sugar-coat learning as though children regard their books as they do their medicine, are not only unnecessary but counterproductive and insulting to the human mind.

    While children are naturally disposed to learning, everything we need to know does not come to us unaided from nature. Children need explicit instruction to understand the world around them, whether in language, the operations of physical nature, or the relations among human beings. As children grow, their questions become increasingly complex and their abilities to assimilate their observations more advanced. At every child’s disposal is a veritable arsenal of mental capacities: memory, reason, imagination, a sense of beauty, a facility for language. Classical education does not simply leave children to their own mental urges and inclinations. Rather, it feeds and directs and strengthens children’s mental capacities in the same way that sports exercise their physical abilities. The mind, like the body, atrophies when not well-trained. The emphasis on rigorous mental training is an important difference between classical education and modern, progressive education. By stressing childhood “creativity” and “spontaneity,” while at the same time denigrating “mere rote learning” (and therefore human memory itself), without making children do much work or work on anything important, the modern school takes bright young children and puts them on a path to becoming bored adults who do not know very much. It is the old story of the tortoise and the hare. Falling in love with our talents—without making any substantial effort to improve them—causes one to lose the race. In this case, it is the all-important race towards becoming informed, moral, thinking citizens.

    So classical education puts young minds to work. It leads young people to understand themselves and the world around them. Students do not learn in the abstract. They must acquire concrete skills and gain knowledge in certain disciplines to participate fully and effectively in human civilization.

  22. Bill says:

    Thank you Barbara for your cite of the Northwest Ordinance adopted by the Congress of Confederation in 1787, Article III.

    However, the purpose in 1787 might have been “Religion, morality, and knowledge don’t seem to be at the forefront of today’s educational system.

    You can’t teach religion in public schools or even pray. Those who voted for the Northwest Ordinance undoubtedly had a concept of morality to be taught that is forbidden today. “Morality” hardly seems to fit within a system where condoms are handed out in some public schools and sex education often begins in grammar school.

    And if you believe that today’s school systems fufill the “purpose of education… to enable human beings to live fully human lives” then you have more faith than I do. I see few examples where the educational system is doing much for students to enable them to develop the virtues of character and thinking by means of careful study and practice.”

    Perhaps I am too cynical but when I hear the common lamentation of college professors that their entering students cannot speak, read or write the English language, I am not encouraged. And too, when I see the intolerance of free speech on college campuses by both faculty and students I am not too hopeful for character or critical thinking.

  23. Barbara says:

    Bill the question asked was What is the purpose of education and is it important for children today to know Shakespeare. I was not commenting on the state of public education or even the education offered by most private colleges today.

    The fact that I sent my daughter to a private school through the 8th grade and that she now attends a private college when she could have had a free ride at UNLV or UNR should tell you that I have little regard for the quality of public education offered in Nevada.

  24. Bill says:

    Barbara, my questions were rhetorical not personal and are a manifestation of my frustration with he status of public education.

    I am a UNR graduate as are 3 of my 4 children. They all went to public school but in a District where the system was comparatively good.

    One child chose private college and graduate school. We put them all through college with the understanding that it was the only legacy they could be assured of as we hoped to spend what little money we had prior to death.

    Several of my grandchildren go to private school simply because in he area that they live in the public schools are not safe and academically deficient. Their parents receive no subsidy and it is a financial sacrifice for them to keep the kids in private schools.

    As for myself. I went to grammar school in a one room school house with 12 pupils and 7 grades. I received an excellent education because I had (a) a teacher who cared and (2) parental involvement.

    I never went to college until after the military and then did so on the GI Bill. The reason for the background is in the way of explaining why I get so frustrated when I hear that continual refrain that we need more money for education. One recent letter writer lamented that we were forcing our children to attend school in temporary classrooms and some classrooms had no air conditioning. Sorry, I cannot get exorcised about that especially when I see multi-million dollar facilities sitting idle during the summer months and know that year after year the cost of education has risen while the quality of the product has declined.

  25. Bill says:

    And Barbara, I agree that there is value in Shakespeare but I refuse to say the same of Chaucer.

  26. Rincon says:

    This country doesn’t need more aspiring authors. We need more engineers. You’re right that Shakespeare can help a person think and understand the language. So does Mickey Spillane (OK, maybe a little less thinking). I believe reading about science and history are far more valuable, except they teach much more about thinking logically than Shakespearean fiction.

    My discussions here about global warming have demonstrated that the science education in this country is horribly deficient, not because some disagree with me, but because some post things that anyone with a reasonable science education would never dream of posting. I see the same thing in everyday life, such as trying to teach someone to drive a manual transmission when they they simply don’t understand the basic physics of movement and friction, or when someone tries to put out a grease fire with water. In my animal hospital, I must constantly dumb down my language. For example, I literally say, “pee” and “poop” to my pet owners because so many do not understand the words feces , stool, defecate and urinate. Most of my employees come to me unable to work all but the most basic arithmetic in their heads. And I have to say, or rather admit, I find the spellchecker constantly pointing out my ignorance.

    In my experience, Shakespeare taught me next to nothing, except how to translate Olde English, a semi-useful skill at best.. If you’re still adamant about Shakespeare, let me ask if you remember anything at all useful from your Calculus or Trigonometry classes. I know two engineers who tell me they never use calculus, but somehow, as a veterinarian, I was required to take two semesters of it. And it was all pure rote.

  27. Rincon says:

    If you want religion taught in the schools, may I suggest Iran or Saudi Arabia.

  28. Patrick says:


    I hear what you’re saying, and there is some truth to what you say. Nevertheless I disagree with you.

    In the same sense that a human being is able to sustain their bodies with a very limited diet, is the experience of life not enriched by an expanded diet that goes beyond the barest essentials? And perhaps this is not the best analogy, but there are many others where man, to make it to the next day, does not need even indoor plumbing to “live” but my own life is surely better in my opinion, because I have running water, and a shower in my home.

    Maybe you’re correct that some people would be better off not experiencing the mind enhancing benefits of greater cultural awareness. Maybe we don’t really “need” to learn Shakespeare or about the wonders of animal life or planets far from ours to “do our jobs”, but, in my opinion, it’s the “unnecessary” knowledge that makes life the wonder ours thing that it is sometimes.

    Anyone trying to limit the education that our children are getting, as so many conservatives have tried to do in so many nefarious ways is, to me, reprehensible and something I can never support.

  29. Barbara says:

    Rincon – do not confuse questions of faith with religion. How would one study history without also studying the various religions of the world?

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