Frazier, West implement plans to climb out of ‘F’ ratings
Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 2, 2014
NATCHEZ – As two schools in the Natchez-Adams School District face the potential of state take over in September, administrators, teachers and students at two other schools are working to avoid being in the same position this fall.
Frazier and West Elementary schools received an “F” rating for the 2012-2013 school year in state accountability results, which are based on a variety of factors including test score performance.
One more year of an “F” rating for the schools means they will be in the same position that Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School are in this school year.
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The middle and high school are among approximately 50 schools in the state that could be taken over if they receive an “F” rating again in September.
The takeover would include termination and replacement of all school employees.
But reaching that point isn’t an option for the principals of Frazier and West, who say students are making significant progress and those results will shine through when they take state-administered tests in May.
“We don’t have the luxury of time, so this is our year to improve and show that we are not a failing school,” West Elementary School Principal Alice Morrison said. “Everyone has bought into what we’re trying to do here, because the teachers and students don’t want to be a part of a failing school.”
Starting in 2003, the Mississippi Department of Education began sending teams of employees to visit schools to examine factors that may affect the academic performance at the school.
This year, MDE teams are in 16 schools throughout the state. An 11-person team representing MDE visited Frazier and West in October to examine various standards including leadership, curriculum and assessment, delivery of instruction and school climate and safety.
A report of the findings was prepared and presented to the NASD Board of Trustees before each principal set goals for the school to create an “at-risk-action-plan.”
Three MDE team members visit each school each week to assist the administration in the execution of its plan to enhance the educational process, MDE representative Lillia Jones said.
Teachers and staff at Frazier Elementary School have welcomed the team members with open arms, Principal Tony Fields said.
“It’s all about the way they came into the building in a really supportive role, and they have been here to offer any assistance necessary,” Fields said. “They made it clear they wanted to actively help in any way possible, and that was very welcomed in the building.”
The initial findings by the MDE team at Frazier included a variety of challenges such as the lack of data to drive instruction and a lack of high-order thinking skills within the classroom.
Fields said new equipment purchased to scan student tests has allowed teachers and administrators to receive immediate feedback of what needs to improve.
“That gives the teacher an idea of some good data of where the students are individually,” Fields said. “So that way, the teacher will know if they have to go back and re-teach the whole group or know what needs to be done differently, if anything at all.”
To increase high-order thinking skills taught in the classroom, Fields said administrators worked with teachers to revamp the way lesson plans are created.
Each Friday, teachers gather together to create lesson plans for the following week using a new template.