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Achievement School District Begins Operation August 2017


The 2015 legislative session focused the bulk of its efforts on education in the state.

It mandated some changes to school districts state-wide, including the sprawling Clark County School District. 

One of those initiatives included forming a new Achievement School District, separate from CCSD, which will convert some of the district’s most underperforming schools into charter schools next year. 

And this has been met with some mixed reviews. 

Joining KNPR to hopefully clarify some of what this means for those schools is the Nevada Achievement School District Superintendent Jana Wilcox Lavin. 

Lavin said the Achievement School District, or ASD, is a response to calls for better quality education from parents, educators and administrators.

Charter management operators will run ASD schools, with the input from parents, educators and the community. Lavin said the ASD was informed by other states with similar initiatives, with unique adjustments for Nevada.

"We want to keep what's working and change what's not," Lavin said.

A maximum of six schools can become charter schools in the 2017-2018 school year. The ASD charter schools will begin operating Aug. 20.

Recently, the Achievement School District recommended nine schools to the State Board of Education. The board will announce a shorter list of eligible schools Dec. 15, and the final decision will be made Feb. 1.

The K-12 schools were chosen for being the lowest performing for the longest time. In those schools, only one in five students could read and do math proficiently, and only 4 percent were college ready. The schools also had challenges with attendance and student behavior.

“They’ve really struggled to provide the best outcomes for kids and put kids on the path to college and career,” Lavin said of ASD’s recommended 

The ASD will operate separately from the school districts, though it must meet the same state standards.

“In many ways they’re very nimble and can be really responsive to the needs of students and families very quickly because of their structure,” Lavin said.

Teachers are welcome to remain at their schools once they become charters. Pay scale will be set by operators and will be competitive with CCSD salaries, Lavin said, though it's up to the operators to decide whether to honor union contracts.

Lavin said college and carreer readiness are the biggest goals. 
Schools currently are rated on a five-star system, and Lavin's goal for the charter schools is three stars in three years.

Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky recently told KNPR's State of Nevada that CCSD Schools perform better than charter schools in Southern Nevada. Lavin said that was true, but added, "We can't think of charter schools as one big unit. We have to evaluate schools and their leaders independently."

Two charter operators, Futuro Academy and Democracy Prep, have been approved to oversee ASD schools, and Celerity Schools has been conditionally approved. Both Democracy Prep and Celerity have experience in other states.

“Neighborhood kids are still going to go to neighborhood schools," Lavin said. "It’s just going to be under different management.”

Jana Wilcox Lavin, superintendent, Nevada Achievement School District 

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.