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NASD receives ‘F’ benchmark rating

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District would receive another “F” rating if students perform the same on the annual state tests in May as they did on benchmark tests given in October.

But district officials remain confident the results illustrate a worst-case scenario, and students should score higher on the next assessments next week and eventually on the state tests in the spring.

An initial pretest was administered in August and another at the end of the first nine weeks of school in October. Students will continue to take the assessments throughout the year at the end of each nine weeks.

The tests, Superintendent Frederick Hill said, serve as a precursor to how students will eventually perform on the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 and Subject Area Testing Program state tests in the spring.

Similar tests administered a month before students took state tests last school year predicted the same “F” rating eventually given by the state.

The first nine weeks common assessment showed a mild fluctuation in language arts scores in third through eighth grade, with the biggest decrease being in eighth grade students.

All grades showed an increase in math and science scores.

At the high school, all students scored higher in biology, algebra, English and U.S. history tests.

Hill said he wasn’t pleased with some of the test results, especially the low scores on language arts.

“As a district, we’re not at a level we need to be,” he said. “Our language arts at the elementary and middle school level need to improve.”

Hill took the results of the assessment, as well as other data from the high school such as graduation rate, and factored what the district’s rating would have been if the assessments counted as the state test.

The data was factored into a new accountability formula that will likely replace last year’s model, which was based on a number of things such as test performance and graduation rates.

The new accountability system, which has yet to be approved by the Mississippi Department of Education, will use 10 indicators to factor the district’s accountability rating:

• Students scoring proficient in math

• Students scoring proficient in reading

• Students showing growth in math

• Students showing growth in reading

• The lowest 25 percent of students in math

• The lowest 25 percent of students in reading

• Students scoring proficient in science

• Students scoring proficient in U.S. History

• Graduation rate

• College and career readiness

The percentage of students in the district reaching those 10 indicators will be added together and given a letter grade based on a scale where anything lower than a 461 is an “F” and anything higher than a 762 is an “A.”

The district’s assessment results, as well as projected graduation rates and college and career readiness, which takes the percentage of students making a 16 and above on the ACT, totaled 446.91, giving the district a projected “F” rating.

Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School have also received an “F” rating from the state for two consecutive years. Another “F” rating in September means the schools will be taken over by the state, which would consist of terminating all school employees and finding replacements.

“This is the worst case scenario with graduation rates, and college and career readiness is going to chance as we have more ACT administration sessions,” Hill said. “Those numbers will go up, and all of our numbers should go up because half of the test students’ took was on material they hadn’t been taught yet.

“On the next test, they’re going to be tested on items they were taught, and we should see some improvement.”

Students will take another assessment next week, and the results of those should be available in January, Hill said.