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State Department of Education to track college readiness

State Department of Education to track college readiness

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Nebraska's public high schools will receive more detailed information this school year about how well they've prepared students for college thanks to new state data, a top education official said Tuesday.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed told a legislative panel his agency expects to offer statewide "college readiness" reports this year. The reports will detail how well students are performing in Advanced Placement and other college-level courses.

"We have to accept accountability as simply a fact of how government will operate in the future," Breed said in a hearing before the Education Committee. The reports are "simply a part of responding to that need for accountability."

For years Nebraska has lagged behind most states in tracking information about its public schools and students, but officials are trying to increase the available information to help schools pinpoint areas that need improvement.

State officials are adding the data as part of Nebraska's P-16 education initiative, headed by Gov. Dave Heineman. Breed said state officials did not include Nebraska's 38,000 private-school students, because they lacked the resources to do so.

The hearing was called by Sen. Greg Adams of York, who has said Nebraska needs a more precise way to measure student improvement. Heineman signed a bill earlier this year that expands how schools are evaluated to include graduation rates, test scores and other variables. The law requires the state Board of Education to develop a new accountability system by Aug. 1.

The Legislature adopted a statewide testing system in 2007 after the U.S. Department of Education said Nebraska had failed to show that its local and district assessments accurately measured student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Statewide test results released in August showed four out of 10 students failed to meet Nebraska's new math goals. State and local school officials attributed part of the decline to students not taking enough strenuous high school math classes and focusing more on college-entrance exams, such as the ACT.


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