NASD school assessment results vary

Published 12:12 am Friday, March 14, 2014

NATCHEZ — Two schools in the Natchez-Adams School District would receive a higher letter-grade rating if students perform the same on the annual state tests in May as they did on recent benchmark tests.

But one traditionally high-performing school would drop a letter grade and two others on the brink of being taken over by the state would keep an “F” rating.

Superintendent Frederick Hill presented to school board members Thursday the results of assessments given to students at the end of the most recent nine-week period.

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Students receive a grade on the assessments, but they are also used as a predictor of how the students will do on the annual state tests administered in May.

Hill told the board the assessment results should be used as a snapshot of where students were at that time of classroom instruction, but the assessments students will take next week will be the best determination of student performance.

“The tests they’ve been taking tests the entire curriculum, but the students haven’t been taught all of that yet,” Hill said. “The next test they will have learned everything, so that will be the best indictor of how we will perform on the state tests.”

The assessment results showed Frazier and West Elementary schools improving from an “F” rating to a “C” rating in state accountability results, which are based on a variety of factors including test score performance.

McLaurin Elementary School would drop from a “C” to an “F,” while Natchez High School and Morgantown Middle School would keep an “F” rating.

The increases would bump the district’s rating from an “F” to a “D” rating.

A new accountability system will be put in place this year and will include a variety of new indicators to factor individual school’s ratings, including showing growth of the lowest 25 percent of students in math and reading.

West Principal Alice Morrison and Frazier Principal Tony Fields said they have been concentrating efforts on ensuring those group of students are receiving individual instruction and showing growth.

Morrison, for example, said she’s using the school’s auxiliary staff, such as the art and physical education teachers, as tutors for individual classes to break away from the whole-group teaching method.

“We’re pulling all hands on deck for those students,” Morrison said. “We’re also having one-on-one conferences (with) third and fifth (students) grade saying where they are and where they need to be.”

Hill said he was pleased with the growth shown at the elementary schools, but the middle and high school needed to improve.

One more year of an “F” rating for the schools means they will be in the same position Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School are in this school year.

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.

The assessment results for Morgantown showed a significant drop in reading and math scores, which Principal Kesha Broady-Campbell attributed to a shift in personnel in those areas because of several teachers retiring.

At the high school, math scores dropped significantly, but Principal Fred Butcher said steps were being taken to improve those scores.

“We took all of these students who were in the lowest 25 percent and moved them to Coach (Lance) Reed who had some of the better scores last year,” Butcher said. “We analyzed test data and moved the best teachers to the testing areas.”

The results of the assessments students will take next week will be presented to the board at the April NASD Board of Trustees meeting.