Natchez, Adams County school officials say students who opted to stay home fell behind in statewide assessment program

Published 11:56 am Monday, September 27, 2021

NATCHEZ — Natchez Adams County school officials said they feel the pandemic has had an even greater impact on the district when compared with other schools across the state.

In an emailed statement from Ernest “Tony” Fields, Public Engagement Coordinator for Natchez-Adams School District, school officials said the pandemic had an even greater impact “on communities such as ours,” where at the start of the school year, “parents were leery of allowing their students to attend school for face-to-face instruction.”

“Every community has a different dynamic,” school officials said. “For example, there are a number of school districts around the state that … with students regularly participating in online learning using various computing devices and learning management systems. Therefore, they were acclimated to that process and virtual instruction.”

The 2020-21 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program results that were released last week revealed that Natchez Adams School District fell behind statewide results in all grade levels and subjects.

MAAP measures student proficiency in mathematics and English Language Arts in third grade through high school.

Students across the state paid the price for learning outside of classrooms in 2020.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, student proficiency decreased statewide in mathematics and in English Language Arts for the first time since MAAP tests were first administered in 2016. Pre-pandemic, statewide student proficiency rates increased every year since MAAP tests were first administered.

Students were last tested in 2019 and reached an all-time high for proficiency in mathematics and ELA. However, 2021 assessment results show statewide proficiency levels fell in all grades except grade 8 ELA, which increased 0.1 percent to 35.6 percent since 2019, when it was 35.5 percent.

Statewide mathematics proficiency fell 12.3% from 47.4 percent in 2019 to 35.1 percent in 2021. Statewide ELA proficiency fell 6.7 percent form 41.6 percent in 2019 to 34.9 in 2021.

According to MAAP results released Thursday, a higher percentage of NASD students tested below a Level 3 on the assessment when compared with statewide percentages. Students are graded on a Level 1 to Level 5 scale with Level 1 being minimal performance and Level 5 being advanced.

With so many families opting for at-home learning, the district was not equipped with the technology to provide high-speed internet to student’s district-wide until November.

“Many families did not have access to technology and/or high-speed internet so students were not able to receive instruction from highly qualified teachers.  It wasn’t until November that all students were issued Chromebooks and hotspots,” school officials said, adding those who opted for hybrid instruction—half face-to-face instruction and half virtual — showed better performance overall than those who were fully virtual.

“The district saw a disheartening issue with disengagement among virtual students at the beginning of the school year. Hybrid students received two days of face-to-face instruction and three days of a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Therefore, we saw better performance among students who attended face-to-face on the hybrid schedule when compared to the performance of students who attended virtually.”

In third grade, 41.7 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA while 62.1 percent of students scored a Level 3 or higher statewide; 30.2 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math and 59.7 percent statewide.

In fourth grade, 36.5 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA, 62.5 percent statewide; 18 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math, 58.7 percent statewide.

In fifth grade, 58.2 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA, 77.5% statewide; 23.9 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math, 65.2 percent statewide.

In sixth grade, 44.3 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA, 63.7 percent statewide; 22.8 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math, 60.8 percent statewide.

In seventh grade, 54.7 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA, 68.6 percent statewide; 58.6 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math, 74.9 percent statewide.

In eighth grade, 53.1 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in ELA, 70.1% statewide; 21.4 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in math, 74.9 percent statewide.

In high school, 39.9 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in English II, 60.9 percent statewide; 53.8 percent of NASD students scored a Level 3 or higher in Algebra I, 73.5 percent statewide.

School officials said the district has adopted a new K-12 ELA curriculum and deepened the implementation of the K-12 math curriculum to address student learning loss.

“We have hired content-specific interventionists to provide more personalized instruction to students with a greater need for support,” they said.

Additionally, the school district is gearing up for an after school tutorial program will students will be matched with content area teachers for afterschool support and has strengthened its social work department to provide students and families with additional support in the area of social and emotional learning, school officials said.

The test participation rate was almost a non-issue for NASD schools.

The district wide test participation rate was 92 percent in English Language Arts and 90.1 percent in mathematics. High schoolers showed the highest test participation rate with Natchez Early College having 100 percent participation in both the English II assessment and the Algebra I assessment and Natchez High School having a 99.5 percent participation in the English II assessment and a 100 percent participation in the Algebra I assessment.

“We are extremely proud of the participation and performance of our NEC students. They had a strong participation rate, approximately 98% or better in all tested areas,” school officials said. “We are celebrating the strong performance of our English II testers at Natchez Early College with 63% of students scoring proficient or above; 68% proficient or above in Biology and 58% proficient or above in US History.”

Robert Lewis Magnet School had the lowest participation rate of all schools in the district with 83.4 percent participation in ELA and 80.8 percent participation in math. The overall participation rate for assessments statewide was 96.9 percent.

“At Robert Lewis Magnet School, we had a large percentage of parents who simply refused to allow their students to attend school to participate in the state assessments,” NASD officials said. “MDE required that all state assessments be administered on campus, and based on personal reasons, parents chose not to participate. Many of those parents were aware that participation in the state assessment program was not a requirement for the school year.”

Due to COVID disruptions, third grade students were not required to meet a passing score on the reading assessment to be promoted to fourth grade. Students still had to meet all other district requirements for promotion. Students who took required end-of-course high school assessments including Algebra I, English II, Biology and U.S. History were not required to meet a passing score.

Follow the links below for complete 2021 and 2019 MAAP results.

mdek12.org/OPR/Reporting/Assessment/2020-21 

mdek12.org/OPR/Reporting/Assessment/2018-19