Our state’s economic prosperity is accelerated by investing in the education of our children. Nevada’s Ready For Life found that if our students who dropped out of high school in 2009 and 2010 had chosen to complete their studies and graduated, their combined lifetime earnings would have been $11.6 billion. We must solve this problem.
- Prepare students for college & the workforce.
The ACT & The WorkKeys assessment.
I propose that we change the required high school exit exam to the ACT, a commonly accepted college entrance exam. Most recently the Nevada System of Higher Education approved a resolution that made the ACT and SAT an official requirement for admission to UNLV and UNR starting in fall 2013.
According to Ready for Life, only 25 percent of Nevada students who took the ACT in 2010 met all of the benchmark scores, meaning that 75 percent of those who took the ACT are likely to earn a "D" grade or lower in their college level classes of English Composition, Algebra, Social Sciences and Biology. We can do better.
Students interested in joining the workforce immediately after high school can take the WorkKeys assessment. This test provides students with a career readiness level to help inform employers of the knowledge and skills of our high school students. I will fight to ensure our high school students have a meaningful graduation requirement that helps them find career opportunities after high school.
Develop state-wide dual enrollment agreements.
Our students should have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, therefore we need to create statewide agreements to ensure that dual enrollment credits transfer to any of our colleges in Nevada.
Create a state-wide Business & Higher Ed Council.
Establish a regular dialogue with private and public leaders should center around our workforce needs to create new Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs across our state to respond to future job demands.
- End social promotion.
Ensure students have the knowledge and skills to succeed.
In Nevada, students are promoted year after year regardless of whether or not they master the knowledge and skills on our state assessment. In Clark County, nearly 4,500 seniors (22%) entered the 2011-12 school year on track to graduate based on credits earned, but had not passed at least one (1) High School Proficiency Exam, after multiple attempts. By only requiring proficiency in high school, we are waiting too long to improve some students‘ preparedness for college and the workforce.
- Create achievement targets.
I propose that we establish a policy that requires proficiency exams that set achievement targets for students to demonstrate mastery of standards at pre-established times throughout elementary and middle school. This will help prevent students from being passed on from grade to grade regardless of their preparedness. If we want more students prepared for college and career opportunities, we should do whatever it takes to prepare our children every step of the way.
- Invest in early childhood education.
Change age requirement for attending school.
Our current statute states that children aren’t required to attend school in Nevada until the age of seven. I would like to work with legislators to lower the age requirement to increase enrollment of five and six year olds in kindergarten classrooms because the earlier they start, the better off they are.
Prepare students for kindergarten.
Data shows that high quality preschool programs for four year olds will prepare early learners for success in kindergarten and beyond.