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Scottsbluff High School off PLAS list
December 13, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Last week, Scottsbluff Public Schools administrators learned their year-long effort to improve their quality of education paid off.

The Nebraska State Department of Education informed Scottsbluff it had been removed from its Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools (PLAS) list. Scottsbluff was one of 84 schools that ended up on the list in 2011.

Mike Mason, curriculum director for Scottsbluff Schools, said a number of factors are considered in determining the PLAS list, including student performance in core curriculum area and also graduation rates.

“We had significant growth in all our testing areas,” Moran said. “We also had a 13 percent improvement in graduation rates. That was the big factor that took us off the list.”

He added a prime cause of lower graduation rates is mobility – students moving in and out of the district. “Our mobility rate is a bit higher than the state average. That impacts students’ ability to complete high school.”

During their academic year on the list, Scottsbluff implemented high school support classes to help students that are struggling and insure they earn their credits.

The district also implemented learning guides, their curriculum revisions, over the past two years. “The learning guides outline for teachers the important skills they should be covering in their classes,” Mason said. “The guides help assure standards are addressed prior to state assessment testing.”

He added the teachers themselves help develop the learning guides so they’re teaching the right things at the right time, making sure all the students get that information.

Also on the team are content specialists in the areas of reading, math and science. “They work with teachers to develop new strategies for helping at-risk students,” Mason said. “The high school is also offering support classes throughout the day. They help students in any subject area, but are especially focused on reading and math.”

Mason said the purpose of statewide and nationwide student testing is rooted in the No Child Left Behind Act. “It’s also the reason behind statewide assessment testing, to make sure students are meeting standards across the state and the country. The overall goal is to get all or a majority of our students ready for higher education, whether it’s college or technical training.”

Mason said it was a relief to be off the PLAS list, but the district plans to continue working toward being a top achieving school.
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