Nome board members sitting at desks inside of a room

During a recent Nome School Board work session, the focus was on the latest attendance and graduation rates, which are below the goal line. The Board was also notified of a five-year literacy grant that will benefit Nome Public Schools.

The attendance rates were in a report card to the public that can be found on the Department of Education’s website. Nome Superintendent Jamie Burgess explains what else can be found in this report.

“There’s information about attendance, graduation, and drop out rates. There’s information from the Civil Rights Data Collection […] to look at disparities in how our different ethnic populations, and special populations, such as special education, low-income, etc., are treated by the school system.”

– Jamie Burgess

Nome’s dropout rate is about 5% across all demographics. According to the department’s report card, students who are “English Learners” were the most likely to drop out, with a rate of 16%. It is unclear how the report card measured the homeless student group, but that population is listed as having a 25% dropout rate.

The least likely to dropout were multiple subgroups of students including African Americans and the Asian/Pacific Islander population, with a 0% dropout rate. That subgroup also had the highest attendance rate at 95%.

While the total attendance rate from 2018-2019 was 89%, which Burgess says is only 6% short of the school district’s target, graduation rates are not as close to their goal.

“Our graduation rate: 78% of students for last year.”

– Jamie Burgess

While these numbers may be lower than desired, Nome Elementary Principal, Elizabeth Korenek-Johnson, relayed some good news.

“The grant (we) received, $20.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education, that is going to be shared out over the next five years, so this is year one. In year one you can see it’s a little bit higher than the following four years.”

– Elizabeth Korenek-Johnson

Korenek-Johnson went on to say that this grant will help educators stop simply “admiring the issue” and move to fix it. The grant in question promotes literacy and Korenek-Johnson says that NPS applied for it late last year.

“These are some goals: early intervention in literacy, students reading on grade level by the end of third grade – which we know is critical – and increasing our overall reading proficiency in the state.”

– Elizabeth Korenek-Johnson

The Promoting and Achieving Well-read Students grant, or P.A.W.S. for Literacy, will go into effect at the start of the next school year.

The next Nome School Board of Education meeting will be on March 10th at 5:30pm.

Image at top: Members of the Nome School Board during a work session in February, 2020. Photo from Joe Coleman, KNOM (2020).