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Natchez Adams School District receives ‘F’ rating

Justin Seller | the Natchez Democrat — Four out of five schools in the Natchez-Adams School District received failing grades.
Justin Seller | the Natchez Democrat — Four out of five schools in the Natchez-Adams School District received failing grades.

NATCHEZ — The rating is the lowest of the five-letter grade ranking system — A through F — that ranks Mississippi public schools with the rest of the nation.

“There’s nothing good here at all,” Superintendent Frederick Hill said. “We are working to do better this year, but I am disappointed in the results.”

The letter grade system replaced the use of previous word descriptions such as star, high performing, successful, academic watch, lower performing, at-risk of failing and failing.

chartIndividual schools also received ratings. Frazier Elementary School, West Elementary School, Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School all received an “F” rating.

McLaurin Elementary School received a “C” rating.

The rankings are based on three factors — test score performance, graduation rates and a growth target measuring the improvements students make on state tests.

The district as a whole did not show enough growth to lift it out of the failing category.

Test score performance is based on a formula called a quality of distribution index, which is a representation of the distribution of scores across the various statewide assessments.

A QDI score is represented on a scale of zero to 300, with higher numbers showing a better rating.

The district received a 120 QDI rating for this year’s test scores, which is four points lower than last year’s 124 QDI.

Hill set a goal last year of reaching a 166 QDI rating, and said he will continue to aim at reaching that goal.

“I knew the likelihood of us getting to 166 wasn’t feasible, but that doesn’t mean we need to shy away from that goal,” Hill said. “My goal is still the same for this year.”

While Hill said he was disappointed in the district and school ratings, he said the writing was on the wall from a benchmark assessment students took earlier this year.

Students in grades three through 12 were administered the benchmark in March, which was utilized as a predictor of student’s performances on the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 and Subject Area Testing Program state tests.

The low scores from the benchmark assessments resulted in a projected QDI rating of 120 for the district, which would indicate no growth and give the district an “F” rating.

“The benchmark told us that if nothing changed we would be failing,” Hill said. “Obviously nothing changed from March to May.

“I think the data we had was an excellent prediction of what was going to happen, so I wasn’t surprised.”

Hill said another reason the results didn’t surprise him was because he knew the curriculum being taught in the classroom wasn’t aligned with the state tests.

“We just didn’t have a good curriculum last year, and the (Phi Delta Kappa International) audit confirmed that for us,” Hill said. “The tests that students take are based on curriculum, and we didn’t necessarily have the curriculum that matched up to what was being taught.”

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.

Hill said the creation of a new curriculum as well as a revamped curriculum department with six academic coaches who will help teachers and students in the classroom are all things he hopes will pull the district out of an “F” rating.

“We created those coaching positions for that very reason because we had some teachers struggling,” Hill said. “All of them worked to rewrite the curriculum, and they’re now transitioning into their permanent positions as coaches where they will be helping teachers.

“We’ve been meeting with teachers and principals in the classrooms and getting feedback on what needs to be done to improve.”