Hamblen County School District Update
As we return from Fall Break, I wanted to give you an update on the Hamblen County School District.
On behalf of the Hamblen County Board of Education and myself, we are excited to have 9 great weeks of the 2023 – 2024 school year under our belt and entering into Fall Break. The Hamblen County Department of Education (HCDOE) is “shaping Hamblen County’s future…one student at a time”.
HCDOE’s mission is to educate all students so they can achieve their post-secondary and career goals. We know all students are important and valued and must be treated with respect. All students will get a high-quality education. We believe all students can learn and achieve at a high level, and all HCDOE employees share a collective responsibility for the success of every student, every day.
Where are We
I believe where we stand as a District is indicated by a variety of different factors and no one item can be looked at in isolation.
Achievement is the measurement of student on-grade proficiency based on the state academic standard. Overall, the District improved in 21 of 31 areas evaluated as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). We also scored above the state average in 14 of the 28 TCAP common state-wide areas. Additionally, we improved in the majority of the demographic subgroups such as Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities.
Growth, as reported in Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS), is a measure of how our students increased their knowledge relative to the rest of the state. The scale for growth is 1 to 5 with 5 being the best. A score of 3 means the District grew at the expected level relative to the rest of the state. A score of 5 means there is significant evidence the District exceeded the expected student growth. The District Composite score was 5.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is focused on preparing students to enter the workforce or continue their postsecondary education after graduation having received the knowledge necessary in their chosen field. In the 2022-2023 school year, we awarded 652 industry certifications. This is an increase of 15% from the previous school year.
These gains and improvements are reflective of the professionalism and dedicated efforts of our Teachers, Administrators and Staff. We are fortunate these outstanding individuals are part of the HCDOE Team and members of our community.
While these areas indicate improvements we desire, we are not satisfied. We must sustain this momentum as we move forward to close the learning gaps created during the pandemic. We want the District on a continuous improvement path in the coming years.
Where are we going?
We have multiple initiatives underway so I will only highlight a few items.
The Safety of our Students and Staff is priority #1! In close partnership with local law enforcement, we are implementing exercises, plans and training to meet the new state laws. The Hamblen County Sheriff and County leadership have diligently worked to provide a School Resource Officer in each school. Safety is an area the District will always work to improve. We will remain ever vigilant in our efforts.
In 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Achievement Act. These laws were written to ensure 3rd grade students who were determined to need additional supports in reading receive them before promotion to the 4th Grade. If students scored in the “Does Not Meet Expectations” or “Approaching Expectations” categories, the law required students to attend summer school and/or receive intense tutoring through the 4th grade. Students must also demonstrate adequate growth in the 4th grade TCAP tests.
These state laws remain in effect, and we will work closely with parents/guardians of this year’s third graders, so they understand the potential impacts on their children as they go through the school year and test. We are also focused on intervening and informing parents/guardians earlier as we look at the skills of our Kindergarten through second graders. All of this will be done in coordination with parents/guardians.
Tennessee and the District adopted a new Math curriculum last year and we are implementing the curriculum this year. We are thrilled to see a standards aligned curriculum so we can ensure all students are covering the materials they should expect to see during state testing. Implementing the curriculum will be a lot of work for our Teachers and Staff over the next two years to ensure we implement with both fidelity and integrity.
English as a Second Language
HCDOE continues to see an increase in the number of English Language Learners. HCDOE is one of the top 5 Districts in for the state when comparing the percentage of English Language Learners to overall student population. We have researched across the state and looked for the best programs and are replicating their efforts to best serve these students. We have increased the number of English as a Second Language teachers, increased Multi-lingual Learner professional development opportunities, and partnered with educational institutions to increase the number of dual certified teachers. With all of these combined efforts, we anticipate improvements in both achievement and growth next year.
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
We are providing purposeful and intentional early postsecondary opportunities and meaningful work-based learning experiences to ensure our students are better equipped to make informed decisions about postsecondary plans and career goals. In an effort to prepare students for a changing workforce and get them thinking about career plans at a younger age, we have increased our introductory and exploratory courses in our middle schools. We continue, and look to expand, our industry partnerships to allow our students to capitalize on work-based learning experiences to guide their future career decisions. Through the Tennessee Innovative School Model Grant, we are keeping pace with the ever-changing state of technology, increasing class offerings and renovating classrooms to prepare a better learning environment.
In order to achieve our mission, we must have students in school. We, like many Districts in the State and many states, are experiencing increasing absentee numbers. Chronically absent means a student is missing 10% or more of school days due to absence for any reason (excused, unexcused, or suspensions). This issue is multi-faceted and there is no easy solution. We will work this in partnership with community leaders, community organizations, and the judicial system to improve our attendance rates.
We want you engaged in your child’s education. Please be involved with your schools and work with the Teachers and Administrators. I see the education of your children as a partnership. Please familiarize yourself with our policies which can be found at our home page. I also ask that you demonstrate the importance of school in your home. You caring about how your child performs and showing interest makes a notable difference in your child’s school performance.
Thank you for your strong support of HCDOE. We are fortunate to have great partnerships with local law enforcement, elected officials, TCAT, WSCC, HC*EXCELL, community leaders and industry. We need your continued support to improve our District and succeed in our mission.
We, Hamblen County Department of Education, know a sound education system is critical to the growth and sustainability of Hamblen County’s economic viability. We are committed to educating Hamblen County’s students…they are our future.