National Education Rankings: What Nevada Can Learn and a Proposal for Moving Forward

November 1, 2023

During the second calendar quarter of 2022, the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities (Guinn Center) presented the first two parts of a three-part series of reports requested by the Nevada Commission on School Funding.

The report series examines widely publicized national education rankings and apparent disparities in their assessment of Nevada’s K-12 education system compared to other states. In recent rankings, Nevada placed at or near the bottom of some national lists while also being ranked 18th nationally by another in K-12 educational achievement. The Phase I and II reports explore and clarify how these widely varied assessments could simultaneously be valid. Many consider national education rankings to be proxies for school quality. They are frequently referenced to support various educational narratives and used in conversations and negotiations regarding education funding. Some will say that Nevada’s poor performance in a ranking necessitates more funding to improve education quality. Others may use the same ranking to argue it shows that funding is not the issue. 

This final phase of the three-part report further explores the value and shortcomings of existing state education rankings. It also outlines critical concepts for measuring State educational performance and proposes essential considerations for establishing a fair and robust system for state-to-state comparisons. This report concludes with a suggested approach for creating a Nevada-specific scorecard to measure the performance of the State’s K-12 education system.