Hamilton County Department of Education is a system with more than 42,000 students, 6,500 employees and 76 schools. We are dedicated to a simple mission: to educate all students to their highest potential.
The District merged in 1997 when the City of Chattanooga Public Schools and Hamilton County Schools unified into one system. Both systems were similar in size, but vastly different in demographics and philosophy. The two systems, while different, came together with the common mission of educating all students.
Hamilton County is the fifth largest school system in the state of Tennessee, covering the county’s entire geographical area. The district boasts 78 different schools comprised of 46 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, 17 high schools, 14 magnet schools, an alternative program, a program for special needs students and an adult high school. Hamilton County Schools has 34 Title I schools that receive federal funds to help raise student achievement in schools with high rates of poverty.
Hamilton County Schools serves a diverse student population with the following ethnic make-up: 61% White, 33% African American, 4.1% Hispanic, 1.8% Asian and .2% Native American. Hamilton County Schools serves roughly 6,000 students with disabilities and an additional 4,000 who quality for gifted and talented programs. Hamilton County has roughly 900 students who qualify for English as a Second or Other Language programs.
Hamilton County Schools stresses the importance of daily attendance and good health for all students. Hamilton County has an average student attendance of 94% with a similar teacher attendance rate. The 2010 dropout rate was 12% with a 80% 4-year on-time graduation rate. On average, approximately 73% of graduates go onto a 2 or 4-year college each year.
Hamilton County is home to several Magnet Schools of Excellence. In 2005, Normal Park Museum Magnet was named the Top Magnet School in the country. In 2010, Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts was named the Top Elementary Magnet School in America.
Hamilton County boasts two national Career Academies of the Year: one at East Ridge High School and one Red Bank High School and 16 National Board Certified staff members.
Hamilton County is home to several nationally acclaimed reform efforts including the highly successful Benwood Initiative, which has transformed achievement in 8 urban elementary schools, and recently expanded to an additional 8 elementary school. The county is current implementing Middle Schools for a New Society, which focuses on reform at the middle school level and collaborates with the Public Education Foundation for both literacy and math reform work at the High School level. In partnership with PEF, Hamilton County has implemented reform work across the county that is helping to increase achievement while reducing dropouts and helping more students to graduate.
In the last 10 years, Hamilton County Schools has focused on five areas:
1) Implementing a standards-based curriculum with accountability for results.
Hamilton County is recognized nationally as a leader in developing and implementing a local standards initiative. The district is currently aligning curriculum to new and more rigorous standards that go into effect in Fall 2009.
2) Moving Students from Proficient to Advanced
The core goal of Strategic Plan 2011 is to move students from scoring proficient on state tests to advanced so they can effectively compete with counterparts in the nation and world.
The District is making steady progress towards having 50% of students score advanced on standardized tests.
3) Providing ongoing staff development for teachers to assist with standards implementation and student achievement.
The District is conducting intensive staff development for teachers this year on the new standards including the Volkswagen Teacher Training Institute, which focuses on writing and the Volkswagen sponsored ACT readiness program to train teachers and principals on strategies for embedding ACT standards into the curriculum.
4) Maintaining school facilities.
Hamilton County developed a community-based 10-year facilities plan to guide construction and renovation of existing facilities. The District opened a new high school on Signal Mountain and new schools to replace the aging Soddy Elementary, Orchard Knob Elementary and Hixson Middle School in 2008. HCDE also opened the new middle high school in the East county area in 2009.
5) Increased Parent Involvement
The District has actively encouraged parents to participate in local PTAs and volunteer at their schools and is launched a comprehensive parent engagement campaign in August 2008.