Natchez-Adams School District graduation rate beats state, nation

Published 12:05 am Friday, January 18, 2019


NATCHEZ — Graduation rates for the Natchez-Adams School District outperformed the state and the most recent national graduation rates, according to numbers released by the Mississippi Department of Education on Thursday.

For the past five years, the four-year graduation rate for NASD has steadily increased from 71.7 percent in 2015 to 84.2 percent in 2019.

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For the first time in the past five years that MDE has been reporting graduation rates, NASD surpassed the state average of 84 percent.  Similarly, this year’s numbers also surpass the national graduation rate of 84 percent that was last reported in 2017.

This year’s graduation rate is 3.8 percentage points better than last year’s 80.4 percent rate.

MDE said in a news release that the state’s 84-percent graduation rate hit an all-time high.

The four-year graduation rate is determined by calculating the percentage of students who complete high school after entering ninth grade. This year’s numbers compared the ninth grade class in the 2014-2015 school year with the senior class of 2017-2018.

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said the school district is happy with Thursday’s report.

“Natchez-Adams School District is quite proud of the increase in our graduation rate over the course of the last several years,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the district attributes the increase to a more concentrated focus on tracking ninth graders on “their four-year high school journey.”

The district is especially proud of the 100-percent graduation rate at the Natchez Early College Academy, McDonald said.

“The smaller learning environment that focuses on and supports the individual needs and interests of students, along with the opportunity for students to earn associate’s degrees, is working wonderfully well,” McDonald said.

In addition to NECA’s success, McDonald said the district has seen a gradual increase in the graduation rate at Natchez High School.

A number of factors have contributed to that increase, McDonald said.

The Mississippi Department of Education recently approved new diploma options that will give students the opportunity to earn an endorsement with their high school diploma. Starting in the ninth grade, student will choose whether they want to work toward a traditional diploma or take additional classes to earn an academic, distinguished academic or career and technical education endorsement.

“The various graduation options available to students allowed by MDE have granted students multiple pathways to demonstrate college and career readiness,” McDonald said.  “The district has also afforded students alternative options for those who choose the workforce or community college and technical school path.”

In addition to the district’s improvement in graduation rates, the district’s drop-out rate has also improved. NASD’s drop-out rate of 9.6 percent also outperformed the state’s 10.1 percent rate. Like the state, NASD’s drop-out rate has steadily improved from 15.9 percent in 2015, a drop of 5.8 points.

The numbers for graduation rates and drop-out rates will be included in the school district’s overall accountability score which will be released later in the year.

McDonald said the community partnership has also contributed to the district’s success.

“Partnerships with local community members, businesses and parents continue to strengthen the work that we do,” McDonald said. “Anytime we have parents, educators and the community working together our students win.”