Acumen realizes the importance of a good education. It has the power to change lives. Our firm is committed to investing in and supporting schools in Hamilton County. Although our county has had many challenges and has been one of the lowest performing school systems in the State of Tennessee, we are pleased to see the progress being made with the new school board leadership. Improved results in education will be felt in the form of increased economic opportunity, decreased violence, and a more united community. We would like to share with you 2019’s outlook from Dr. Bryan Johnson, the Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools.
Accelerating Our Focus in the New Year
As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the incredible work that was done this year by Hamilton County students, teachers and staff. In August we officially launched 20 Future Ready Institutes in 13 of our high schools, which provide students with a unique learning environment that tailors their education to career-themed subjects. We also equipped every middle school student with a Chromebook through our 1:1 initiative and opened eight new VW eLabs, for a total of 17 eLabs across the district, making us a national leader in public K-12 for digital fabrication labs. This year we also saw the highest graduation rate in Hamilton County Schools since 2011 at 86 percent and reached a Level 3 in student academic growth for the first time since 2013. While our district is making strides toward our goal of becoming the fastest-improving district in the state of Tennessee, there is still a lot of work ahead of us.
In October, the Hamilton County Board of Education approved Future Ready 2023!, our district plan that outlines the work Hamilton County Schools will do over the next five years. We believe our ultimate responsibility is to prepare graduates for life beyond high school, so the overarching theme of this plan is to make sure our children are ready for the future. In addition to key performance indicators and related targets that we’ve defined in the plan, the district will pursue five priority targets to measure our progress along the journey and our success at the end of Future Ready 2023!’s five-year timeframe.
Focus Five Performance Targets
- At least half of all third-grade students will be on-track or mastered as measured the TNReady English Language Arts assessment. In 2018, the district was at 33.7% proficiency for third-grade reading. Early literacy is critical to ensuring that students have the academic foundation to put them on a trajectory for success through high school and beyond.
- We will double the percentage of students on track in Algebra I across all grades. In 2018, only 22.1 percent of district students were on track for college, and career readiness as measured by state EOC assessments in Algebra I. Algebraic problem solving is growing in importance across all career sectors, as STEM becomes an essential part of the workplace. Our students need these skills to compete in the 21st-century economy.
- 75% of graduates will compete for at least one advanced course or industry certification exam. Less than 31% of 2018 graduates completed an early post-secondary course or earned an industry credential. Advanced coursework and industry certifications provide students with a head-start on careers and credit attainment towards a post-secondary degree or diploma. Increasing exposure to early post-secondary opportunities will ultimately increase post-secondary completion rates.
- The average ACT composite for the class of 2023 will be 21. The average ACT composite for the class of 2018 was 19.9. The ACT is an important indicator for post-secondary readiness, as well as HOPE scholarship opportunities. We believe that, on average, our graduates should be able to demonstrate their preparation for post-secondary based on composite ACT scores.
- 90% of students who entered high school in the 2019 cohort will graduate by summer 2023. The graduation rate for the class of 2018 (entered ninth grade in 2014) was 86.6%. Earning a high school diploma is the first step toward economic self-sufficiency when that diploma represents a high-value set of skills and abilities. Moreover, graduation is a culminating rite of passage to adulthood, and we must support more of our students to achieve this milestone.
I will continue to share regular updates and information with you as we make progress toward our goals in Future Ready 2023! The saying “it takes a village” could not be truer when it comes to educating our children. Family support is vital to the success of our students, and we want to make sure you understand and share our goals, so you can work with us every step of the way.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to continuing our progress for children in the New Year!
Dr. Bryan Johnson
Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools