By Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A new report has ranked Nevada dead last among the states for education.

The state slipped behind Mississippi to take the last place in Education Week’s Quality Counts report, which was released Thursday. It shows Nevada performing significantly worse than the national average in several areas, including student performance and school financing.

The state earned an overall D grade while the country as a whole earned a C.

Interim state superintendent Steve Canavero called the results “disheartening,” but he tempered that with optimism about Nevada’s recent investments in public schools.

“I’d hate for this to be seen as an assessment of where we are. It’s where we’ve been,” said Canavero. “We’ve got the tools to move the needle.”

State lawmakers increased public school funding by $400 million in 2015. They also made several reforms, including a rule that students can no longer be promoted to fourth grade unless they can read.

The report didn’t take into account an increase in the state’s graduation rate, which passed 70 percent in 2015. Instead, in used 2012’s 60 percent rate.

Most other figures used in the report came from 2014 or 2015.

Although it fell to last place, Nevada’s overall score slightly increased — coming in at 65.2 versus last year’s 65.0. The Silver State has always ranked low on Quality Counts, but has consistently fallen since ranking 46th in 2008. That’s continued despite recent gains in academic achievement, suggesting that Nevada is improving at a slower pace than other states.

“Everybody’s in a race here to improve student achievement,” said Canavero.

For seven years, Nevada has ranked last in the report’s student chance for success category, which considers factors like parents’ education levels, income and language abilities.

Canavero said that while those things are outside the control of public schools, it’s right to consider them.

“This is a society. This is us,” he said. “If we’re not doing our work as a school system, we’re not getting it done as a society.”

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