Natchez-Adams School District nearing another ‘F’ rating?

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NATCHEZ — If students in Natchez schools perform the same on upcoming May state assessments as they did on benchmark tests given last month, the Natchez-Adams School District will receive an “F” rating.

Superintendent Frederick Hill presented the NASD Board of Trustees with results of the benchmark assessments given in March and compared those results to a pretest given at the beginning of the school year in September.

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

The data showed an overall district decrease in the language arts test scores, but an overall district increase in math and science test scores.

“You’ll see there’s a pattern throughout the district with language arts,” Hill told board members Monday afternoon. “Something is happening or not happening in that area.”

Despite higher scores in math and science, the low language arts scores negatively affected 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 last year’s test scores, and Hill had set a goal of reaching a 166 QDI for this year when he took over the district.

The district’s QDI rating based on the benchmark assessments given last month was a 120, which would indicate no growth and give the district a low performing or “F” rating. The district received the same rating last year.

“The curriculum has been taught in these areas that are being tested, so now teachers need to pace their lessons to go back and reteach those standards and items that were not shown to be successful,” Hill said. “So we have the next three or four weeks to get ready, and I’m very confident in our teachers and students.”

The MCT2 is given to students in grades three through eight in language arts and mathematics. Fifth- and eighth-grade students are also tested in science. Students will take the MCT2 May 14 through May 16.

High school students are assessed with the SATP on four content areas — algebra, biology, English (both multiple choice and writing assessments) and U.S. history. Students will take the SATP May 6 through May 10.

In other news from the meeting:

•Food service supervisor Shantoura Spears gave the board an update on the status of the district’s school lunch debt to the Child Nutrition Office of the Mississippi Office of Healthy Schools.

An auditor from the office informed Hill last month that the district owed more than $100,000 for school lunches.

The debt accumulated as a result of schools allowing students to charge lunches, and those bills never being paid by parents.

To correct the problem, students are no longer allowed to charge lunches.

Hill said the district has two options to pay back the debt it owes, which totals $80,129.84 after the district found where a deposit of $15,790.32 had been made for the school lunch charges.

One of those options, which was outlined by Spears, included continuing to accept payments from parents as well as sending out phone messages and advertising for parents fill out forms for free and reduced-price lunch programs.

“Or we can decide if it’s worth paying for a collection agency,” Hill said. “Those are decisions we do have to make because ultimately if we don’t get that money, the district will have to pay it back.”

Hill said because the child nutrition office was willing to work with the district to get the funds, he didn’t think hiring a collection agency was the best idea.

Board member Thelma Newsome said the next step the board should take is creating a policy to make sure the situation doesn’t arise again.

“We will, as of now, develop a policy because I don’t think I understand how this was allowed to happen at the end of each year,” Newsome said. “If at the end of one year a child owes that much, something should be put in place to discontinue this kind of indebtedness.”