HCS Selected for New State Initiative Focused on Serving Students with Complex Needs
Posted on 03/03/2021
HCS Selected for New State Initiative Focused on Serving Students with Complex NeedsThe Tennessee Department of Education has selected three schools in Hamilton County Schools to participate in the first cohort of the Teaching All Students (TAS) Initiative to serve students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Participation in TAS will provides high schools the opportunity to engage in highly requested technical assistance, training, and coaching to support the vision and mission of the district to increase learning for all students with complex needs.

The following schools were selected from Hamilton County Schools to participate in the TAS Initiative:

• East Hamilton High School
• Hixson High School
• Lookout Valley High School

Through a five-year, $5.5 million State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), the first cohort of this initiative aims to strengthen schools' instructional practices across the state to better support students with significant cognitive disabilities. The TAS Initiative strives to fund training, coaching, and tools to help high school teachers and staff build an accessible learning environment for all students, with the goals of reducing the achievement gap and increasing the graduation rate and enrollment in postsecondary education through inclusive higher education, technical colleges, community colleges and competitive integrated employment for students with complex needs.

More than 150 first-year teachers are hired each school year by Hamilton County Schools. This is why providing better supports through professional learning, and mentoring furthers a key action area of Great Teachers and Leaders of the five-year action plan Future Ready 2023. The TAS Initiative helps to provide all exceptional education students a well-prepared, and effective teacher.

“We are very excited to receive this grant at so many schools across the district,” said Dr. Marsha Drake, Chief Equity Officer for Hamilton County Schools. “This grant will open up numerous doors and expand opportunities for our exceptional education students.”

As research has shown, teachers continue to grow in their ability to impact student achievement throughout their careers. Hamilton County Schools aims to create strong collaborative environments for teachers, utilizing instructional coaches to facilitate continuous teaching practice improvement. Hamilton County Schools supports the elevation of professional learning as a core competency and expectation across the district. Through the TAS initiative, Hamilton County Schools continues to create pathways to bright futures for all students in the community by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and supports required to realize their full potential and ultimately preparing them to be future-ready. Additionally, the three schools will receive mini-grants for implementation of the TAS Initiative. Through a competitive procurement process, additional partners will be chosen to help schools implement this work.

Administered through the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the U.S. Department of Education, the State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG) program assists state education agencies and their partners to improve results for children with disabilities through systems of professional development and dissemination of knowledge about best practices to educators and families. This grant builds on the department's previous SPDG and supports teachers in providing students with disabilities with meaningful access to and participation in standards-aligned instruction.

About Hamilton County Schools:
Hamilton County Schools, the fastest improving school district in Tennessee, provides learning opportunities today to open doors to possibilities for the future for children, families, and the community. The school district is a Level 5 district for student academic growth and covers 576-square miles in southeastern Tennessee with 357,738 residents. The 79 schools consist of Pre-K through grade twelve, with just over 6,000 teachers and support personnel responsible for educating approximately 45,000 students. The Future Ready 2023 Action Plan drives the district and its schools to provide Future Ready students prepared for success after graduation.