JASPER — It wasn’t the B that the Hamilton County School District aimed for after improving to a C a year ago.
But for the district, as well as both Hamilton County High School and Hamilton County Elementary School, to retain that grade of a C for the second straight year was pleasing to Superintendent Rex Mitchell.
“We were very pleased,” Mitchell said. “We have not ever really had sustainability. We’ve been up and down, and mostly down, over the years.
“We talked about making a B this year, but realistically we knew the most important thing was to be able to show that we could sustain the growth that we had last year. That has pleased me as much as anything to show that we do have some things figured out.”
Mitchell added while the district had hoped it could continue to improve its grades and make a B, that was going to be a challenge after the significant strides shown the previous year.
The grades are based on four achievement components: English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies as well as middle school acceleration, four learning gains, high school acceleration and graduation rate. Each component is worth 100 points overall.
Grades are then calculated by adding the points earned for each component and dividing the total by the amount of components completed.
Improvements in areas one year, particularly in learning gains, can be hard to duplicate the next.
That proved true in areas for both HCHS and HCES. The high school had a score of 38 in ELA learning gains, down from 47 a year ago. Its mathematics learning gains fell from 48 to 42. HCES also saw a drop in mathematics learnings gains (59 to 47), while making a modest improvement in ELA learning gains, up one point to 50.
|Hamilton County Schools||C||C||D||D||D|
|Hamilton County High||C||C||D||D||D|
|Hamilton County Elementary||C||C||N/A||N/A||N/A|
That improvement, though, coupled with the jump of seven points to 40 on the ELA achievement component and the increase of eight points to a 56 on the ELA gains of the lowest 25 percent particularly had Mitchell optimistic for the future.
“Earlier we found out our third grade really had a big jump and the school itself went up,” he said adding some of the improvements that have been made throughout the district are starting to show over time as students move through the system. “Those are the foundational skills. Everything is based on reading. Social studies, science, everything, you have to have a good background in reading and we feel like we have a good thing going there now.”
Mitchell also was pleased with the improvements shown in the high school’s graduation rate, which moved from 68 percent to 74 percent, as well as college and career acceleration, up nearly 30 points to 67.
That coincides with a change in the district’s mission statement, Mitchell said, to “everything we do is about ensuring that a student will be successful when they leave.
“That’s a huge indicator that you have,” Mitchell added of the improved graduation rate. “The bottom line is your graduation rate, dual-enrollment credits, kids getting jobs.”