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School officials discuss district grade

NATCHEZ — Between 30 and 50 people listened while Natchez Adams School District administrators made a presentation at the Friday morning forum at Natchez Coffee Co.

The administrators discussed the statewide accountability grading system and what the district is doing to continue their goals of improvement.

During Friday’s forum, deputy superintendent Zandra McDonald said the bulk of statewide accountability scores are based how schools are able to improve state test results as well as attendance, ACT scores for 11th-grade students and graduation rates for high school seniors.

Schools are awarded points on a 700-point scale for middle and elementary schools and a 1,000-point scale for high schools, McDonald said.

McDonald said the district is most proud of improving their graduation rate — which she attributed to intervention measures made by the Dropout prevention coordinator, Kelly Thomas; the existence of Natchez Early College Academy that allows students to complete high school courses in 10th-grade and move on to college-level classes; and recent changes in the state’s diploma requirements, which offer more graduation options for students in terms of the level of coursework required.

“Graduation is 200 points on the scale,” McDonald said. “In 2015 Natchez Adams School District had a graduation rate of 71.7%. Last year, the graduation rate was 84.2%, which is slightly higher than the state graduation rate.”

Another high point for the district is their continuous growth in terms of points on the statewide grading-scale, McDonald said.

Natchez Adams School District had grown from an F-grade in the 2015-2016 school year to a 384-D in the 2016-2017 school year. In the 2017-2018 school year, the district grew from a 481-D to a 515-D and just last school year moved from a 515 D to a 527-D, McDonald said.

“As you can see, every year the district is making progress to getting across the bar,” she said. “We understand the needs of the community and assure you that our students are not failures. However, we will address that our students have a lot of challenges. School districts are microcosms of the community they are in. We know as a community the challenges of our community. The same challenges that are in our community are also going to be found in our schools, so we have to work in order to address those challenges.”

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