The Nebraska Department of Education announced they are finding new ways to support students. Beginning this year, schools will be following the new 'Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow' initiative, or AQuEST. 

"The schooling work is really all of ours," the Commissioner of Education Mathew Blomstedt. "I think we've gotten to this point in this country where we looked at it and we try to blame schools for performance. Instead we need to look at what are the gaps that exist for our students that might suffer some type of disadvantages".

It aims to help ensure all students, across backgrounds and circumstances, have access and opportunities for success. The Department of Education hopes AQuEST will push communities to look at equity, especially among minority, low-income, and disability groups.

Blomstedt commented, "When we look at a school, we don't just want to look at the overall school performance just in it of itself we actually want to be able to look at those student groups and how they're performing".

Officials say AQuEST is not only new to Nebraska, but new to the nation. Schools will be classified annually as either excellent, great, good, or needs improvement. Currently almost half of Nebraska public schools have been identifies as "great", but 13 percent are still labeled as "needs improvement". 

The Nebraska Department of Education hopes to shrink this number by providing the much needed support to these schools.

For more information, visit education.ne.gov.