Natchez High School ranking addressed at NASD board meeting

Published 12:16am Saturday, June 15, 2013

NATCHEZ Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent Frederick Hill blasted the credibility of a website Thursday that claims Natchez High School is one of the worst in the nation.

Hill said the website is not credible and asked community members not to believe everything they read on the Internet.

Neighborhoodscout.com, a website that claims to be a research and data mining company that publishes nationwide reports on crime, school and real estate, published a report earlier this year that listed Natchez High School as the seventh-worst high school in the nation.

Hill gave a presentation to school board members Thursday outlining the company’s “patent-pending” formula it uses to rank schools, and how he believes the report is inaccurate.

“What we really have here is some company trying to sell real estate, and some people believe this is a reliable website,” Hill said. “People believe it’s the gospel of the truth if it’s on the Internet.

“People can make anything out of what they want to from any report they find.”

The website’s formula compares schools and school districts across state lines based on test scores from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federally mandated state tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NCLB Act of 2001 requires states to develop assessments in various skills and administer those assessments to all students at different grade levels to receive federal school funding.

The website claims that since students in different states take different NCLB assessments, comparing those results across the nation is “generally inaccurate and unreliable.”

The website’s rating formula also claims to incorporate the NAEP, which is administered to representative samples of students rather than the entire national, state or district populations.

The main NAEP assessment is normally administered in fourth and eighth grade at the state level, and 12th grade at the national level. A nationally representative sample of approximately 10,900 12th-grade students from nearly 480 schools participated in the 2012 assessment.

The NAEP does not report school or student-level results, but instead the results are aggregated at the state or national level.

The website subtracts the percentage of students in the state who scored proficient or better on the state NCLB test from the percentage of students in that state who passed the NAEP and uses the difference to align each school and district’s test scores across the nation, the company’s website claims.

Hill showed board members that the NAEP data the website claims it has for NHS is actually listed as “not available” on the website.

“So how in the world did they come up with a NAEP score for Natchez High School?” Hill said. “We don’t even have access to that data.

“There is no validity to what they’re showing, and they can’t tell you exactly how they pulled that data.”

Hill also showed the board a copy of the website’s disclaimer, which states the company does not guarantee the information listed on the reports is “complete, accurate or error-free.”

Hill toggled through seven different websites that use the company’s reports and found that Natchez High School wasn’t listed on any of those and that a variety of schools were listed in different ranking positions throughout the websites.

“We have somebody out there putting this information out there, and unfortunately we have people that believe that,” Hill said. “I didn’t want to give any attention to this, but now I’m glad to show them how they’re misled by something they think is the gospel of the truth.”

Hill told board and community members that he does realize Natchez High School, and the district, are failing by state accountability models.

Natchez High School received an F rating in the state’s accountability results last year.

The state accountability model that grades and rates schools uses a system of A through F to rate schools.

“We are an “F” school district, but I feel good with the progress we’ve made,” Hill said. “We’re making that hard-earned effort from being a failing school district, and I do think we’ll see an improvement this year.”

Board member Benny Wright read a letter showing his and other member’s support for the work Hill is doing to improve the district.

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