State Report Card shows need for improvement in Hamilton County schools
The state of Tennessee handed out report cards to every school district Thursday, and if you could see Hamilton County's card it would say "needs improvement." District-wide, Hamilton County gets the lowest possible marks ("1" on a scale of 1-5) in the value-added category, which measures academic progress of students from year to year. Tennessee's three other large districts (Knox, Davidson and Shelby counties) scored the highest mark of "5," while Hamilton, Grundy, Bledsoe and Sequatchie scored lowest ("1").
The Report Card lists the following per-pupil expenditures for the state's four largest counties: Davidson is the highest at $11,496, followed by Shelby at $11,221, Hamilton at $9,728 and Knox at $9,043.
Looking at individual schools, there were highs and lows in Hamilton County. ACT college readiness scores were highest at Collegiate High at Chattanooga State (24.0), Signal Mountain (23.9), Center for Creative Arts (23.3), Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences (22.4), and Soddy-Daisy High (20.5).
The news was not so good for schools on the lower end of the ACT spectrum, including Howard (14.3), Brainerd (14.5), Tyner (15.8), Sequoyah (16.1) and Hamilton County High (16.3).
Graduation rates are also included on the state report card, with Center for Creative Arts scoring a perfect 100 percent, followed by CSAS (98.8), Lookout Valley (94.9), Tyner (93.8) and Collegiate High (93.3) rounding out the top five.
At the bottom of the graduation rate list are Ivy Academy (67.6%), Howard (68.6), Hamilton County High (72.4), Red Bank (76.6) and Brainerd (80.1).
Only five Hamilton County schools received a perfect score (all 5's) in the value-added category. They are Hardy Elementary, Apison Elementary, Daisy Elementary, East Side Elementary and East Ridge Middle School.
Twelve Hamilton County schools received the lowest possible score (all 1's) in value-added. They are Alpine Crest Elementary, Brown Middle, Clifton Hills Elementary, East Hamilton Middle-High, Ivy Academy, Ooltewah High, Orchard Knob Elementary, Sale Creek Middle-High, Soddy-Daisy High, Sequoyah High, Soddy-Daisy Middle, and Howard High.
Countywide, Hamilton County students scored an ACT composite of 18.9, compared to the statewide average of 19.6. The countywide graduation rate increased from 82.6% in 2014, to 85.4% this year. Statewide, the average is 87.8%.
District 1 Board member Rhonda Thurman was livid about the results. "I've been on the School Board for ten years," she said. "Nothing ever changes. We keep making the same mistakes over and over. Someone needs to be held accountable. Kids in high school can't read, and it's not their fault. We need to trace back where they went to elementary school and hold someone accountable."
District 4 Board member George Ricks said, "I try to stay positive. We have great teachers at some of our low scoring schools, but they need support from the community. Our achievement scores aren't that bad, it's the growth from year to year that we didn't do as well as we expected."
Superintendent Rick Smith said, "The sky isn't falling. Our parents know what we do. We will respond aggressively to improve our trouble areas and we'll see improvements next year." He continued, "This is what I've been holding community meetings about. I want to see Chattanooga and Hamilton County invest in education and schools regardless of their socio-economic situation. We have to do that.
To view the complete report, go to https://www.tn.gov/education/topic/report-card