New State Report Card Shows Hamilton County Schools Exceeding the State in Achievement Gains
Posted on 11/25/2019
You remember what it was like when you received a great report card in school.  You ran home with that report and thrust it into a parent’s hand and waited with a big grin on your face for the gushing accolades that were sure to come.  That is the feeling in Hamilton County Schools with the release of the state report card today by the Tennessee Department of Education.  It has been a great year for Hamilton County Schools with individual reports of progress and successes.  Those little victories added up to an excellent report card.  Hamilton County Schools showed record results in student growth and also outpaced the state in academic achievement!
There is well-documented success of Hamilton County Schools in academic growth, but the report card also shows significant increases in academic achievement, especially as the district compares to the state on TNReady results.  Hamilton County Schools outpaced the state on success rate with an increase of 4.7 percent overall and a success rate of 37 percent, while the state increase was just 2.5 percent with a rate of 36.4 percent.  The district increase in math is 7.5 percent increase with a rate of 38.8 percent compared to an increase of 4 percent and a success rate of 37 percent for the state.  Hamilton County students have a 2 percent increase in English language arts with a rate of 34.1 compared to a 1.6 percent increase and a 34.9 percent success rate for the state.  In social studies, Hamilton County Schools had a 5.9 percent increase and a rate of 39.5 percent, while the state improved 1 percent with a rate of 38.7 percent.

“Our student academic gains were outstanding, and we are pleased with achievement improvement as our students outpaced the state-wide averages for the first time, but it is just the beginning,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. 

Success for the district means success for individual children in our schools.  The TNReady score reports how a student performed when compared to the subject and grade-level expectations.  Each score report – such as a fifth-grade student’s report – explains student performance based on the performance levels of mastered, on track, approaching, or below.  Approximately 1,600 student’s test scores in the district improved to show those students on track toward mastering the academic grade level content this past year. Another 1,400 student’s test scores moved from below to approaching, which shows the significant improvements of the district supporting teachers to reach and teach children in the classroom.

"We believe that every student in Hamilton County should have access to high-quality learning opportunities,” said Dr. Justin Robertson, chief schools officer, Hamilton County Schools. “The improved success rate means that more students are excelling across our community and ultimately are better positioned to achieve their future goals. We are very grateful for the focus and dedication of our teachers and school leaders."
Overall, student growth was a Level 5, up from Level 3 on last year's report card, and was Level 1 just two years ago.  District performance on specific subjects was equally impressive with the school system scoring Level 5 in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.  The largest increase was in mathematics as Hamilton County Schools was a Level 1 last year.  There were also increases in science and social studies over last year’s performance.  Schools and districts that earn a Level 5 are considered the highest performing on the student growth indicator.  Hamilton County Schools also had 45 schools earn overall composite scores of Level 5, and 21 schools earned Level 5 in all subject categories.     
The state department reports the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) results for districts and schools using a range from Level 1 to Level 5. The 2019 results are the first time the district’s overall TVAAS composite, and each subject area achieved Level 5 - the highest level of academic growth. Hamilton County Schools earned Level 5 in literacy, numeracy, social studies, literacy and numeracy, and composite (overall). 

The success of Hamilton County Schools is moving the district up the rankings in academic growth of districts across the state. In the past two years, Hamilton County Schools moved 128 positions toward the top of the state rankings compared to other districts in the state for student academic growth.  Hamilton County Schools is now ranked second in the state for academic growth behind only Williamson County.  The movement in state rankings makes Hamilton County Schools the fastest improving school district in Tennessee.

Accomplishments for Hamilton County Schools include:
32 Reward Schools – Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee.  Reward schools are improving student academic achievement and student growth for all students and groups 
45 Level 5 schools for student academic growth
21 schools earned Level 5 across the board in all categories
66 schools at or above state expectations for growth
80 percent of the district’s teachers met or exceeded student growth expectations for 2018-2019
TVAAS measures student growth from one school year to the next. Value-added growth models determine how effective teachers and schools were in helping students gain at least a year’s worth of learning while taking into consideration the student’s academic history. Growth is a good indicator of school and teacher effectiveness because it measures how much a student has progressed during the year.
The graduation rate continued to climb as it went from 84.6 percent for the graduating class of 2017 to 86.6 for 2018.  Graduation data is a few years behind as it is listed on the state report card.  The latest graduation rate for 2019 has been reported, and it is also up once again to 86.9 percent.  

Hamilton County Schools also improved the Ready Graduate rate by 3.5 percent to 37 and the Chronically Out of School percentage by 2.1 percent with a rate of 12.7 percent compared to 14.6 percent for 2018. 
The five-year strategic plan for the district, Future Ready 2023, provides the focus for continued improvement in all areas, from academic growth to graduation rate.  Hamilton County Schools seeks a learning environment that develops future-ready students prepared for success after graduation.

“There is still work to be done as we all desire the best for our children,” added Dr. Johnson. “It will take everyone working together with continued support of our schools to reach the academic achievement we desire for our children and to maintain the upward trajectory of our school district.”

To view the state report card, visit the State Report Card website.