Natchez-Adams School District receives ‘D’ grade from state

Published 12:12 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District received a D score in the 2017 state accountability rating, an improvement from the prior year when the district earned an F.

The overall score for the district rose from a 457 to a 481 on a 1,000-point scale on the Mississippi Department of Education accountability tests.

Click here for a PDF of the 2017 Accountability Ratings for school districts

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Despite the improvement, the scores place the school district in the bottom quarter of the state’s school districts — No. 129 out of 146 school districts.

In August after the 2017 tests were administered, the Mississippi Department of Education changed how baseline grades were scored. This year MDE reported two scores — using the old baseline grading system and the new baseline grading system — and chose the higher of the two scores for the official grade.

Using the new baseline scoring system, the Natchez-Adams School District scored an F. Because the school district received a D using the old baseline grading system, the district was given an official grade of D.

“The concern of administrators around the state was, you created an assessment, you gave us cut scores, and those were the cut scores we were working under,” Natchez-Adams Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said. “The month before accountability ratings were to come out, you decide to change the scale.”

The new baseline will be the only grade given in the 2017-2018 scores.

Superintendent Fred Butcher said his goal was for a C grade or higher this year.

“We’re not pleased with the results,” Butcher said. “Our goal was to have a C at the end of this testing period. But we are pleased with some of the individual school results.”

Scores for several individual schools in the district improved, such as the Natchez Freshman Academy, Natchez High School, the Natchez Early College Program and McLaurin Elementary School.

Natchez High School, Natchez Freshman Academy and Susie B. West Elementary School rose from an F letter grade to a C.

McLaurin Elementary School rose from a C to a B grade, with an approximate score increase of 64 points.

Joseph L. Frazier Elementary and Robert Lewis Magnet School retained their score of a D.

Morgantown College Prep Academy and Morgantown Arts Academy retained a failing grade.

Though Natchez Early College Academy retained a B rating, its score show marked improvement.

“We are very happy with those schools that improved,” Butcher said. “We know the schools that did not improve, they are still progressing.”

Butcher said the improvements in individual schools and across the district was in part the result of a strategic effort from district administration and teachers.

“When we came on board, we noticed three big problems,” Butcher said.

Butcher listed a low morale in the district, discipline issues and a disconnect between grades as areas they have worked to improve.

Butcher said that as his office continues to address those problems, the scores will continue to improve.

“We are the first to admit that we have a few schools we’ve been struggling with,” Butcher said. “We hope that next year when we sit down and have this conversation, all of our schools will be a C or better schools.”