Most Nebraska public schools are doing well under new accountability criteria.
State Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt gives a positive assessment of school quality in releasing the new accountability formula.
“We believe that schools generally in Nebraska are good,” Blomstedt tells reporters during a news conference. “However, we have schools that fall into ‘needs improvement’ in part, because they need additional assistance and support ultimately to be able to improve and make sure that they address the types of challenges they may face.”
The new criteria goes under the name AQuESTT, which stands for Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow.
Under the new criteria, 13% of the state’s schools are categorized as excellent, nearly 42% are rated as great, around 37% percent as good, and nearly 8% fall into the “need improvement” category.
Blomstedt says the 87 schools needing help come from a variety of backgrounds, both rural and urban as well as Native American and those with populations that drift in and out of the community.
“You realize its painting this broad, broad picture across the state of Nebraska that there are areas and circumstances and situations that need to be addressed in all of these places,” Blomstedt says.
Blomstedt says those schools might need more than what the Nebraska Department of Education can offer, such as help to educate children in poverty.
Blomstedt the ratings have more value to the Nebraska Department of Education than parents, who he urges to have conversations with their children’s school.
“Around what’s happening in their school with their children, that the rating itself, the classification itself, should not label their school as something that they would question. Instead, they need to reach (out) to their school,” according to Blomstedt. “Our piece of the puzzle is that classification helps us understand where we should be investing resources to help make sure that those schools are as good as possible.”
Three struggling schools have been designated for special help from the state to improve their ratings.
Click here for more on the ratings from the Nebraska Department of Education.