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Curriculum rewrite vital to improving Natchez-Adams School District

NATCHEZ — Revamping the Natchez-Adams School District’s curriculum has been another top priority to improve the district, Superintendent Frederick Hill said.

A district-wide curriculum audit done by Phi Delta Kappa International last year showed the material being taught in the classroom wasn’t necessarily aligned with what was being taught on the annual state tests.

“The biggest thing we saw on that audit was that we just didn’t have a viable curriculum,” Hill said. “I worked in a district that saw similar problems to what was shown in the audit, and the development and creation of a curriculum department proved to be a positive factor in turning that around.”

The curriculum department’s first major task came this summer with a month-long curriculum-writing project. The project helped align the district’s curriculum with Mississippi Framework Standards and Common Core State Standards for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Thirty volunteer teachers and other NASD employees worked to rewrite curriculum for all four subject areas — science, math, English language arts and social studies.

“We’re seeing some benefits from the new curriculum, but it’s also an ongoing process,” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Rhonda Prunty said. “It’s going to take a lot of professional development and working side-by-side with these teachers in order to see the results.”

Academic coach positions were created, Hill said, to help be an integral part of the curriculum rewriting process, but to also be a in the trenches with the teachers as they implemented the new curriculum.

“One of the reasons we wanted to name them coaches is to make sure the teachers know that they are there to help them and not in any authoritative way,” Hill said. “Even though they’re helping provide updates and revision to the curriculum, they are also helping teachers and providing a model for those teachers to learn from.”

The creation of a new curriculum, programs that offer students alternative education methods and providing positive reinforcement to students are all things Hill hopes will pull the district out of an “F” accountability rating it received this year.

“It’s very important that we continue to support these students and provide that positive reinforcement in whatever way we can,” Hill said. “The goal is that no student will go unnoticed.”