Elementary schools are on the fast track to academic success with Zoom Schools. Schools that have a high number of English language learning students were the recipients of a $50 million experiment that shows signs of succeeding with great promise in Nevada.
The spending which resulted in student improvements was to promote smaller class size, more pre-kindergarten classrooms, extending the school year and creating reading centers. Clark County and Washoe school istrict officials presented preliminary findings on the “zoom schools” to the Legislative Committee on Education.
Joyce Haldeman, Clark County associate superintendent of community and government relations, summed up the results. We really are seeing these kids zoom to success,” she said. It was the first of two years the district will receive additional state funding for 14 zoom schools.
The district spent $17.4 million of its $39.4 million in zoom funds during the school year, which lasted 17 days longer at zoom schools. The district has collected some student performance numbers from Cambeiro, Cortez, Craig, Detwiler, Diaz, Herron, Lunt, Martinez, Paradise, Petersen, Ronzone, Tate, Warren and Tom Williams elementary schools.
The school year started with 10 percent of pre-kindergarten students speaking English and ended with 80 percent of them having the expected language skills. About 35 percent of pre-kindergartners in the fall had the expected reading skills. By summer, close to 100 percent had attained grade-level reading skills.
Pre-kindergarten was previously limited and many families were on waiting lists. Zoom schools, however, removed the cap in 2013-14, causing enrollment to double at these schools to 1,000 pre-kindergarten students.
Kindergarten class sizes decreased to a maximum of 21 students each. Some classrooms previously neared 40 students. More than 80 percent of kindergartners met most benchmarks, which includes recognizing and writing all capital and lower-case letters, also knowing each letter’s sound.
“That’s amazing,” said Danielle Miller, academic manager for the district’s zoom schools, providing that and other numbers.