Empire must improve scores for fourth year

Statewide, 16 schools failed to make adequate yearly progress for the fourth time. Most are elementary schools, like Carson City's Empire, and 13 of those are in the Clark County School District. The other two are in Yerington and Elko.

Of 608 elementary, middle and high schools in the state, 285 made adequate yearly progress. The other 323 schools are in various stages of "needs improvement."

Part of the problem of making adequate yearly progress each year is that the students being tested keep changing. The other challenge is that new students keep coming in.

Third- and fifth-graders are tested annually in math and English-language arts. The school targets that group's needs the next year, when a new group of students with different profiles is being tested. Also, if a student comes into the third grade and doesn't speak English, no amount of preparation can change the facts, said Empire Principal Pat Carpenter.

"We're always optimistic," said Carpenter. "That's part of us who we are. We're always optimistic. We're always working very hard and always trying our very best and working with new programs."

But Empire, the district's only school of 10 to fail to make adequate yearly progress for the fourth year, will be dealing with the consequences.

A committee of state officials and educators will visit Empire this fall. Its recommendations will be specifically geared toward reaching adequate yearly progress. The district will be required to implement those recommendations.

Carpenter said some of her staff have been training through the summer for the challenges of making adequate yearly progress in 2005-06.

Many of the school's goals are long-term and aren't readily testable, like its new pre=school program. The successes of that program will appear when those students take criterion-reference tests in third grade.

"As with anything, change takes time," Carpenter said. "It takes time if it's going to be meaningful. Changes that are happening overnight are not usually long-lasting."

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.


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