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Superintendent Hill: I will only accept what is best for schools

NATCHEZ — Turning around a failing school district is a challenge from which first year superintendent Frederick Hill isn’t backing down.

“I’m not going to settle for anything but the best for this school district,” Hill said. “I anticipated issues because we are a failing school district, but we are working hard to turn things around.”

The Natchez-Adams School Board voted to enter into a four-year contract with Hill in May 2012. Hill was assistant superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District at the time.

Hill took over the district on July 1, replacing interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson, who led the school district since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

Since Hill’s first day on the job, he said one of his goals was to increase scores on state-mandated tests to help raise the district’s and individual schools’ accountability rating.

Students’ scores on test are factored into the district’s quality of distribution index (QDI) rating, which reflects the academic achievement of all students in the district. A QDI score is represented on a scale of zero to 300, with higher numbers showing a better rating.

NASD received a 124 QDI rating for last year’s test scores, and Hill had set a goal of reaching a 166 QDI for this year when he took over the district. The leap in rating would propel the district from a low-performing, or “F,” rating to a high-performing, or “B,” rating.

The district’s QDI rating based on a benchmark assessment given earlier this year was a 120, which would indicate no growth and give the district the same rating.

“I feel confident we’ll improve this year on our testing even though the benchmark showed differently,” Hill said. “The teachers were able to take those results of the benchmark and really push those things they needed to improve on in the last few weeks before testing.”

Another one of Hill’s goals for the district includes crafting a strategic plan for the district, which would list the top goals and objectives the district hopes to achieve.

“That strategic plan is really going to help drive the decisions we make to move this district forward,” hill said. “We’re looking to pull community members in as we create this plan, so it will really be an organic document that will drive decision making in the district.

“Starting in July, all decisions made in the district will be based off of that.”

As his first year in the position quickly comes to a close, Hill said he’s finally seeing the results from the months of hard work by teachers, students and administrators.

“It seems like I’m just getting a grasp on the tangible progress within the district and now it’s about to be summer break,” Hill said, laughing. “This has been the longest short year of my life.”