This past year, Nebraska schools began to administer statewide reading tests. For the first time ever, Nebraskans will be able to compare their school district with other districts in the state.
Known as the Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) Reading Assessment, it was taken by students in grades three through three through eight and high school juniors. I want to focus on the results of our high schools.
Nebraska has 251 school districts that range from a few students to nearly 50,000 students. That doesn't provide a good basis for comparing the reading results of Omaha Central or Lincoln East High Schools to smaller schools like Bloomfield or Garden County. A more useful comparison is to compare results according to our sports classifications -- Class A, B, C-1, C-2, and smaller school districts.
Today I want to recognize Nebraska's top performing high schools in reading.
Among smaller school, the top five performing schools were Bloomfield, Johnson-Brock, Cody-Kilgore, Elgin, and Rock County High Schools.
In Class C-2, the top five schools were Hershey, Palmyra, Sutton, Malcolm, and Cross County. In C-1, the top five were Ord, Ainsworth, North Bend, Wahoo, and Douglas County West High Schools.
In Class B, the top high schools were Bennington, Aurora, Adams Central, Waverly, and Elkhorn. In Class A, the top five performing high schools were Millard West, Papillion-LaVista South, Lincoln East, Millard North, and Bellevue West.
This is the first year Nebraska has conducted a statewide reading test so I want us to be careful in analyzing the results. This year is the benchmark, the starting point. Next year, we will begin to measure school growth and progress.
Over time, the results of the reading assessment and other subjects will be informative and useful in improving our schools. We should be able to identify schools with consistently high academic achievement and share their success stories with all schools. We should also be able to identify the schools with the best growth and improvement plans and share their progress with all schools. It's about individual school achievement and school growth. Both are important.
This spring the first statewide math assessment will take place with results announced in the fall, with a statewide science assessment following in 2012. My expectation is that this new method of gauging student and school progress will provide important information that benefits our schools and our citizens.
I encourage parents, teachers and school officials to keep a positive focus on these initial results. We have good schools in our state. In a new age of data collection and analysis, this information will be an important tool in helping make our schools even better.