(Above) Baylor School
Preparing the Next Generation
With a variety of public and private schools, schools dedicated to specific areas of learning, workforce-ready educational initiatives, and accelerated learning institutions, the Chattanooga area provides numerous options for a quality education.
Over the last few years, the Hamilton County school system has seen unprecedented improvements. The most recent school year continued the upward trajectory as the school system moved closer to its Future Ready goal of achieving a 90% graduation rate by 2023. The graduation rate for the 2018-2019 school year increased over the previous year and currently sits at 86.9%, with three schools in the area achieving a 100% graduation rate.
In order to help reach the Future Ready goal, Hamilton County Schools added college and career advisors throughout the district and now have an advisor at each high school. Whether students are looking to attend a two- or four-year school or are interested in obtaining a skills-based, technical certification, Hamilton County hopes the addition of career-minded professionals within the schools will better prepare students for life after high school and keep them more engaged during the final years of secondary education.
Adding to the success of the Hamilton County school system over the last year is the number of schools to earn Reward status. Awarded by the Tennessee Department of Education, 32 schools in the district received the Reward School designation, up from 17 for the previous school year. The Reward designation is the highest honor for academic achievement in the state of Tennessee. Hamilton County Schools was also ranked the second-best district in the state for student growth in areas such as literacy, numeracy, and social studies.
Further supporting its focus on academic achievements, Hamilton County Schools also emphasized technology and innovation when it implemented its one-to-one initiative in the 2018-2019 school year. Through this initiative, each middle school student was given a personal device to access the county’s learning management system, as well as online textbooks. This integration aims to enhance schools’ curriculums through communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. The program expanded to high school students for the 2019-2020 school year.
In addition to the one-to-one initiative, Hamilton County Schools is expanding the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. Students also have access to an array of programs that can hone their workplace readiness and develop their skills. Chattanooga 2.0, launched in 2015, helps improve education and workforce opportunities through programs such as a kindergarten readiness summer camp, partnerships with post-secondary institutions, and Chattanooga Basics – a campaign to erase developmental gaps through science-based strategies for children at birth to age three.
Adding to Hamilton County’s work-ready programs, the Public Education Foundation’s STEP-UP Chattanooga program addresses the need for workforce skills by matching low-income, working-age Hamilton County students with local companies and public agencies for paid summer internships. The internship program requires work readiness training and helps students build professional skills, understand their potential, and network with local employers. During the 2018-2019 school year, the number of students earning an industry certification more than tripled.
New for the 2019-2020 school year is Howard Connect Academy. This school adds to the county’s lineup of 13 magnet schools with concentrations in fine arts, environmental science, liberal arts, math, science, and technology. Four charter schools, as well as several specialty schools, are complemented by an array of elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition to public schools, more than 40 private schools serve the Chattanooga area, many of which rank among the country’s most prestigious.
Did You Know?
Out of the 2019 graduating class for all Hamilton County Schools, 99% of students took the ACT. This participation rate is higher than the state participation rate and is up 6% from 2016, when the information was first made public by the state.