State of Nebraska schools: mixed

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October 21st, 2010

Omaha Central High School was one of 42 schools listed as Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools (PLAS) in the report, with a graduation rate of under 75% (Photo courtesy JonClee86, Wikimedia Commons)

Omaha, NE -There is some good news and some bad news about the state of Nebraska’s schools.  The good news: 93% of the nearly 150,000 students tested in grades 3-8 and 11 are proficient in mathematics; 69 percent of those same kids are adept in reading.

But the overall health of Nebraska schools gets complicated when the $234 million in stimulus monies Nebraska accepted in 2008 is factored in. As a condition of those dollars, the state agreed to four school reform considerations, one of which requires the identification of low-performing schools known as Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools or PLAS.

Roger Breed, Nebraska’s Education Commissioner, said Thursday morning, “PLAS is an effort by the federal government to designate and direct funds to the lowest-performing, persistently lowest achieving schools.” Those, Breed said, are the “five percent of schools that are the drop-out factories across the United States.”

The bad news is that Nebraska has 42 PLAS schools and they’re all over the state system, from Crawford Elementary School in the Panhandle’s Dawes County to Omaha’s Benson Magnet High School. Breed said the purpose of PLAS in Nebraska “is simply to designate those schools that would be eligible to apply for school-improvement grant funds.” There should be about $ 6 million of thus funds available this year, he said.

To see the entire report of the State of Nebraska Schools, click here.

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