The Natchez Democrat
The Natchez Democrat

School district not pleased with drop in scores

Published 12:09am Friday, August 23, 2013

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams School District students taking state tests in the spring of 2013 performed worse than they did the previous year in 11 of 18 categories.

Scores from the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2, Subject Area Testing program and fifth- and eighth-grade science tests were released Thursday to the public.

“I’m not pleased (with the scores),” Superintendent Frederick Hill said. “We had a few increases throughout the district but not enough.”

The MCT2 is given to students in grades three through eight in English language arts and mathematics.

Fifth- and eighth-grade students also took the Mississippi Science Test (MST 2).

Students are scored as minimal, basic, proficient or advanced on the MCT2 and MST 2.

10th-grade

Students across the district scored lower in the following categories:

-Third-grade math

-Fourth-grade language arts and math

-Sixth-grade language arts and math

-Seventh-grade math

-Eighth-grade language arts, math and science

-10th-grade English II

-10th-grade history

The percentage of students that scored basic and above on the MCT 2 was lower in all categories and grades compared to the state percentage.

The most significant drop in scores was in sixth-grade language arts. In that category, . Hill said he believed a factor contributing to the drop in scores across the district was the curriculum being taught in the classroom last year.Phi Delta Kappa International conducted a comprehensive curriculum audit in March — several months before the state tests were administered — and the results of the audit, Hill said, allowed the district to make necessary and important changes for the current school year.“We learned exactly what needed to be fixed from that audit, and that’s what drove our curriculum writing project this summer,” Hill said.

Teachers and volunteers worked this summer to rewrite the district’s entire curriculum in all four-subject areas — science, math, English language arts and social studies.

“We’re going to know this year that we’re teaching the right things,” Hill said. “Our teachers worked hard last year, but if the curriculum isn’t right then it won’t work.

“I feel good about the changes we’ve made and confident now that we have a viable curriculum.”

Students across the district scored higher in the following categories:

-Third grade language artsFifth-grade language arts, math and science

-Seventh-grade language arts410th-grade Algebra I

-10th-grade Biology I

Fifth-grade students across the district show the most significant improvement in test scores compared to the previous year’s fifth graders.

In fifth grade, 84 percent of students scored basic or above in science, which is up 11.3 percentage points from the 2012 scores. Natchez High School students scored higher on the Algebra I and Biology I tests compared to the previous year, but scored lower on the English II assessment and the U.S. history test.

The Mississippi Department of Education will release accountability labels for each school and district ranking them A through F on Sept. 13.

The state will also release 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 the spring 2012 test scores, and Hill set a goal of reaching a 166 QDI rating for the spring 2013 scores.

“I’m not going to back down from that goal,” Hill said. “I think the excitement is there in the teachers and everyone is ready to work hard this year.”