Nebraska is getting more than 17-million dollars through a federal program that targets states with persistently low-achieving schools. The elementary, junior and senior high schools in Pierce made the list as having some of the nation’s lowest student achievement scores.
Pierce Superintendent Dan Navrkal is disputing the ratings, saying schools in Nebraska aren’t measured on the same scale. “Most states have a state test but Nebraska’s not gone that route so every school in the state decides what their test is going to look like and in this case, language arts,” Navrkal says. “They report the results and they set passing at different levels. We’re not all on a level playing field and that’s what our frustration is.”
Navrkal says the Pierce school board decided not to apply for the extra federal funding for a number of reasons. He says the criteria for the grant included the firing of the principals, which he views as unfair, saying the principals aren’t responsible for the schools being on the list. Also, he says the timeline was very short and impractical.
He says the national low ranking came as a shock to the school and the parents. “Our people in our community know what kind of education their kids receive and how successful they are in college and in later life,” Navrkal says. “Yet, when you get that designation it’s like, wow, that’s a slap in the face. It’s a kick in the you-know-what. It really has bothered us but we’ve gotten over that and we’re ready to move forward. We have all the confidence in the world we’re not going to be on that list in the future.”
Navrkal says being on the low-achieving schools list could affect the economic prospects of their town.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton