Average Year Progress scores show Lewis Middle must go into improvement

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 19, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Even though one school in the Natchez-Adams District will enter school improvement this year, a closer look shows that the students’ test scores are going up.

Based on test scores from the Mississippi Curriculum Test, the Norm-Referenced Assessment, the Functional Literacy Exam and Subject Area Tests the state calculates each district’s and each school’s Average Yearly Progress. Those not meeting all of the requirements for two years in a row enter a phase called school improvement.

Under school improvement the state requires the school to offer school choice and work with the district to develop plans of improvement.

Email newsletter signup

The rate of AYP is used to determine what level each school is given. Based on this year’s scores, released to the public Wednesday, McLaurin Elementary is a Level 2 school, the same as last year. Morgantown Elementary dropped from a Level 3 school to a Level 2 school.

Robert Lewis Middle School moved from a Level 2 school to a Level 3 school.

And Natchez High School dropped from a Level 3 to a Level 2. The primary schools are not ranked on AYP.

Despite the move from Level 2 to Level 3, RLMS will enter the school improvement phase this year.

The school did not meet AYP for two years in a row, which sends it into school improvement. The reason that the school did not meet AYP was because only 91 percent of the school’s white students tested; 95 percent is the minimum.

However, the numbers released Wednesday are not final and the district has until Tuesday to challenge them, something Test Coordinator Charlotte Franklin said she expects to do for several district schools.

&uot;We felt like we tested every eligible child,&uot; Franklin said of RLMS.

Franklin said the district’s count on the number of students tested does not match up to the state’s number.

Regardless, for now RLMS is in school improvement and the district must proceed with notifying all parents of the status. Since there is no other middle school in the district, school choice will not be a factor.

Superintendent Anthony Morris said the district will begin offering supplementary services at the school, a step that isn’t required until after two consecutive year’s in school improvement.

These services, some already in place, include implementation of the America’s Choice Model of teaching, a method of improving reading and math scores based on routine; adding staff development for teachers and hiring more staff, including another assistant principal.

&uot;We really do feel like we’ve got a lot of things in place,&uot; Morris said. &uot;And we will continue to fine tune those things. Our priority really will be to try to work with Robert Lewis Middle School to try to get them up.&uot;

Morris also said the way to ensure that each school meets the 95 percent tested requirement is by improving attendance year-round.

&uot;By making sure they are there on test days,&uot; he said. &uot;Attendance is something we will concentrate on the entire year. It’s important for parents to understand that their children need to be there every day.&uot;

Though most student scores went up in most categories, McLaurin remained a Level 2 school because it did not meet the AYP growth expectation set aside for it by the state. Franklin said McLaurin was very close to moving to Level 3 status.

The same was true at Morgantown, which dropped a level due to 2003 scores, which exceeded their growth expectation and set them into Level 3 status.

At NHS, AYP was not met because not enough students in the economically deprived subgroup scored proficient or above.

Overall though, administrators said they were proud of the progress made.

&uot;We have no priority schools, no Level 1 schools,&uot; Franklin said. &uot;We are making progress and that’s the name of the game.&uot;

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 set out the guidelines being used to determine progress.

&uot;We are not where we want to be,&uot; Morris said. &uot;But we can see improvements and we are proud of that. We are proud of the commitment that our administrators have made.&uot;

Morris said he expected to continue seeing improvement. &uot;Last year we had five new administrators,&uot; he said.

&uot;It took them awhile to get acclimated to the position. Even with them being new they made tremendous progress throughout the year and they are off to an excellent start this year.&uot;