- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Department of Education’s new accountability system has named three public schools among 87 listed as the state’s lowest-performing that will receive state intervention.

Druid Hill Elementary School in Omaha, Loup County Public School in Taylor and a middle school on the Santee Reservation near Niobrara were named “priority” schools Friday as part of the new system, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1TI5dqI ). State teams will work with those schools to devise plans indicating what goals they must reach to be taken off the priority list. The state has $750,000 to spend on the three priority schools.

A 2014 state law mandated the new system, known as Accountability of a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow.

As part of that system, all of Nebraska’s 1,130 schools and 245 districts were classified into four levels: excellent, great, good and needs improvement.

The 87 schools listed as needing improvement represent 8 percent of the state’s schools. The vast majority, 80 percent, fell into the two middle levels, with 473 classified as great and 423 as good. Thirteen percent, or 147 schools, were classified as excellent.

The three priority schools serve few students: Loup County’s grade school has 37, Santee’s middle school 24 and Omaha’s Druid Hill 314.

But all three have characteristics of many struggling schools. At both Santee and Druid Hill, all students participate in the free- and reduced-lunch program. At Santee, 35 percent of middle-school students receive special education services.

Santee Principal Tony Hoffman said he sees being placed on the state’s priority list as something that could benefit the whole district, not just the middle school.

“I do think it’s an opportunity for our school to have someone take an outside look at what we do,” he said.

The Loup County and Druid Elementary school offices were closed Saturday and no one there could be reached for comment.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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