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Nevada ranks low in children’s health, academic outcomes, new study finds

Updated June 10, 2024 - 5:53 pm

Nevada ranks low in child well-being, health, academic outcomes for fourth and eighth grade public school students, and 30 percent of the state’s pupils are chronically absent from school, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book on Monday, “including for the first time 50-state data on plunging test scores and surging absenteeism in our nation’s public schools,” according to a news release made public Monday.

Nationally, only 1 in 3 children are meeting reading standards in fourth grade, 1 in 4 eighth graders are proficient in math, and 30 percent of students are chronically absent, the data show.

The data indicate that “for decades, persistent poverty has undermined children’s shot at succeeding in school, and any recent gains were erased by the pandemic,” the release said.

The 2024 report from the foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit focusing on children’s health issues, claims that decades of “persistent poverty has undermined children’s shot at succeeding in school and any recent gains were erased by the (COVID-19) pandemic,” according to the release.

Some 73 percent of Nevada’s fourth graders were not proficient in reading, and 79 percent of eighth graders and one-third of all of the state’s public school students are chronically absent, the data show.

The data book ranks the states from 1 to 50 using 16 key indicators of child well-being. According to the report, Nevada ranks 47th in the nation regarding child well-being and 42nd in health among all states.

Fewer children in Nevada have access to health insurance than at any other time since the pandemic, according to Chip Carter, another foundation spokesman.

“With more babies born with low birth weight in 2022, Nevada’s Kid’s Count ranking for that indicator has dropped from 36th to 39th in the country,” Carter stated.

Dr. Tara Raines, deputy director of the organization the Children’s Advocacy Alliance and Nevada’s representative in the Kid’s Count study, said the state faces a complex challenge to improve children’s health indicators.

“Nevada boasts one of the fastest-growing populations in the country, but struggles to keep a sustainable ratio of providers for care,” Raines said. “These conditions are even more drastic in the rural areas, where there are less incentives to attract practitioners.”

Other challenges for Nevada include “food deserts” in urban areas where people who lack transportation find it hard to maintain proper nutrition and less access to critical medical care that might require medically fragile children to seek care outside of Nevada, according to Carter.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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