The Tennessee Department of Education released district and school graduation rates this week for 2019-2020, showing Hamilton County Schools moving closer to the district graduation goal in the Future Ready 2023 action plan.
"Hamilton County Schools Overall Graduation Rate improved even while dealing with a historically challenging worldwide pandemic," officials said. "The increase was especially of note as the state graduation rate declined slightly after nearly a decade of improvements."
Also, Hamilton County Schools was the only large district in the state to show an increase. The district graduation rate for 2019-2020 is 87 percent, which is up from 86.9 last year and the highest for the district since 2012-2013. In the district action plan, the target for 2023 is a 90 percent graduation rate.
HCS saw increases across several subgroups of students, while the state as a whole saw overall declines with students in historically underperforming subgroups.
Students in the following subgroups saw increases in overall graduation rates
- Black or African American – Increase of 1.4 percent - performing above the state average for Black or African American students with the state at 83.0 percent, and HCS at 85.5 percent;
- Black/Hispanic/Native American – Increase of 2.1 percent - performing above the state average for this subgroup with the state at 82.9 percent, and HCS at 84.2 percent;
- English Learners - Performed above the state average for this subgroup with HCS at 73.3 percent and the state at 68.6 percent; and
- Hispanic – an increase of 4.4 percent where the state saw a decrease of 1.7 percent.
"Everything we do from the point a child enters Hamilton County Schools is designed to help each child be successful," said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent, Hamilton County Schools. "A high school diploma is the first step toward economic self-sufficiency, and that is especially true when the diploma represents a high-value set of skills that will prepare a graduate for success after high school."
Five high schools in Hamilton County Schools recorded a perfect graduation rate of 100 percent, up from three last year. Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Collegiate High, Hamilton County Virtual School and STEM School Chattanooga were the schools with a 100 percent graduation rate for 2019-2020.
Ten high schools were ahead of the district target for 2023, with a graduation rate higher than 90 percent. The schools above the target included High Schools 2019-2020 Graduation Rate:
Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts - 100%;
Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences - 100%;
Hamilton County Collegiate High - 100%;
Hamilton County Virtual School - 100%;
STEM School Chattanooga - 100%;
Signal Mountain High - 98%;
Lookout Valley High - 94.6%;
Tyner Academy - 92.7%;
Sale Creek High - 92.4%; and
Soddy Daisy High - 90%
Officials said, "East Hamilton High just missed the 90 percent mark with a graduation rate of 89.5. Ooltewah High School (87.8) and East Ridge High School (87.6) are also at a healthy pace to keep the district moving toward the graduation rate goal for 2023.
"The Promise of graduation from Hamilton County Schools is about fundamentally rethinking the school experience to expose all students to high expectations to develop and pursue their passions for learning and life goals. Whether a graduate's dream is to move into a high-paying, skill-based career just out of high school, a technical credential, a two or four-year college degree, or a professional degree, each will have the opportunity to prepare themselves to succeed. The key to rethinking the school experience is that students have a clearer picture of their life after high school and be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources to make their dreams a reality."
"Success is much more than numbers as a graduate's success means opening doors to their future," Dr. Johnson said. "Seniors leaving high school prepared for the opportunities available in college or career means a brighter tomorrow for their families, and our community."
Officials said, "The addition of college and career advisors at the high school level and Future Ready Institutes assisted teens in reaching graduation. Providing early post-secondary options for high school students is also a key component to improve the high school experience in Hamilton County Schools. The district has increased early college options such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) taken by students, and more students are earning an industry certification. Industry certifications allow graduates to leave high school prepared for success with job skills in their chosen career field.
"The focus on 'Future Ready Students' increases the number of graduates earning early post-secondary credits and keeps the district's graduation rate on the rise."