New TVAAS Scores Show Room for Growth

Every year, the state releases a Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) score for each school district measuring academic progress among students. This assessment focuses on academic growth based on TCAP achievement and end-of-course tests. The TVAAS score helps paint a clearer picture of how students are progressing over time in the school system. These scores are important to fully understanding how our school district is performing based on previous years of student achievement. School districts receive a score between 1 and 5. A score of 1 means students performed worse than expected based on previous years of testing, a score of 3 means students scores show no change, and a score of 5 reveals students performed better than previous years.

According to the most recent TVAAS score, Hamilton County received the lowest possible composite score of 1 out of 5 revealing our students are receiving lower test scores than expected when comparing current scores to previous years. When comparing our TVAAS score to other large school systems in Tennessee, Hamilton County performed far lower. For example, Davidson, Shelby, and Knox counties all received a score of 5 meaning they not only met academic expectations, but exceeded them. Instead of progressing in overall student achievement, Hamilton County is digressing and has tremendous room for growth.

We, as a community, should take this opportunity to work together and take shared responsibility for improving public education in Hamilton County. Chattanooga continues to grow and progress as a city, and we need a school system that will fully support the continued success of our community. Innovation is the driving force in our county providing us with the capacity to build a successful school system. Now is the time to take action ensuring all students have access to supportive school environments, resources, and an excellent education.

What can we do as a community to solve these issues? Sign the Pact for Public Education! By signing the Pact for Public Education you are making a promise to support universal excellence for all students (Sign the Pact HERE).

As a community supporter, you can also become more involved in the movement towards decreasing the number of schools in concentrated poverty by attending our upcoming event with Richard Kahlenberg on November 5th from 5:30-7:30pm at The Church on Main (RSVP HERE).

To get involved please visit our website at Join our community and stay up to date by following us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

School Board Watch Blog: October 22, 2015

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we’ll take a look at the agenda for the October 22nd regular session Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will be there live tweeting. Follow along on Twitter: @UnifiEdHC, #HCSchools.

Items of Interest: At the last School Board Work Session, board members discussed the future construction of two new schools, the construction of an East Hamilton School and a new k-12 building for the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts have been approved by the board. The construction is to be funded by the County Commission and will cost around $45 million for the East Hamilton Middle School and $50 million for the new CSLA. The new Ganns Middle Valley Elementary School remains on track to open next school year and the expansions at Sale Creek Middle/ High, Nolan Elementary, and Wolftever Elementary are also moving forward.

The following committees were also assigned by the new school board chairman, Jonathan Welch, during the last work session:

  1. Finance Committee: David Testerman as chairman and Donna Horn, Rhonda Thurman, and George Ricks will join.
  2. Conference and Consultants Committee: Donna Horne as chairwoman and David Testerman, Rhonda Thurman and George Ricks will join.
  3. Technology Committee: Karitsa Mosely as chairwoman and Joe Galloway, Steve Highlander and Greg Martin will join.
  4. Policy Committee: Greg Martin as chair and Karitsa Mosely, Joe Galloway, Steve Highlander and David Testerman will join.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click HERE.

On the consent agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the board is scheduled to approve:

Educational and Leadership Support

1. Field Trips

  • Red Bank High School, Hixson High, Ooltewah High School, Sale Creek Middle/High School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, and East Hamilton School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Hixson High, East Hamilton School, Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in Career & Technical Education field trips.
  • Central, Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, East Hamilton, East Ridge, Normal Park Museum Magnet School, and Ooltewah High School will participate in arts and culture related field trips.
  • Lakeside Academy, East Hamilton, Hixson High, Hunter Middle School, Loftis Middle School, Lookout Valley Middle/High School, Sale Creek Middle/High School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, and Soddy Daisy Middle School will participate in club related field trips.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in a JROTC field trip.

Business and Finance

1. Bids

  • Contract Extension for Routine Roof Repairs & Replacement (funding source: Operating/Maintenance and Capital Projects Budgets for an additional twelve- month period)
  • Purchase of Rosetta Stone Language Learning Suite (funding source: Title III federal budget for $19,800.00), purchase of TruScore Testing & Analysis Test for 3000 students (funding source: CTE Perkins Grant for $27, 295.00)
  • Contract with Reading Plus for Brainerd High, Orchard Knob Elementary, and Woodmore Elementary (funding source: SIG Grant for total of $28,500) and for Calvin Donaldson, Red bank, and The Howard School (funding source: Federal Title I budget for $ 23, 381).
  • 2015- 2016 Contract Amendment Orange Grove Center, INC (no additional funds are needed), Speech/ Language Services Private and Homeschool Amendment (no additional funds are needed)
  • Emergency approval for a steamer for Spring Creek cafeteria (funding source: School nutrition budget for $15, 289.00), approval for Uras Agee to start purchasing food supplies for Brainerd High Bistro (funding source: Brainerd High School Internal Funds for $26,309.35), Emergency/Early Approval for the purchase of a replacement control board for chiller at Woodmore Elementary (funding source: maintenance for $22,574.20)

2. Conference and Consultants

  • Contract with Franklin Covey Client Service, INC for East Ridge Elementary- this program provides opportunities for high-quality professional development for principals, teachers, and other staff (funding source: school based Federal Title I budget for $14,249.00)
  • Chattanooga Police Department services for Brainerd High School – this service will provide a safe learning environment for teachers and students who need to earn required credits to promote to the next grade level and/or graduate. (funding source: School Improvement Grant III for $22,000)
  • Southern Regional Education Board for Dalewood Middle – this contract will provide teachers with a framework to address the needs of middle grade learners using literacy across the curriculum (funding source: iZone/School Improvement Grant III for $17,125)
  • Public Education Foundation and Principal Leadership Academy – this program provides training, mentoring, and support to assistant principals interested in moving into a principal role (funding source: general funds for $50,000)

3. State Financial Reports –The monthly financial statement compares actual year-to-date expenditures to the original adopted budget and the year-to-date amended budget through August 31, 2015.

4. UTC: An Interdisciplinary CubeSat Research and STEM Education

  • This grant awards UTC with $354,045 to utilize a CubeSat standard platform to enable undergraduate students to conduct research of important technological problems related to the space and sciences and to encourage continued study and practice in engineering, math, and science fields. This program will help students and teachers transition into rigorous Tennessee Academic Standards.

5. UTC: Improving Coach Approachability and Athlete Perceived Norms Toward Reporting Concussion

  • This grant awards UTC with $315,126 to enhance coach approachability and the development of safe concussion reporting environments through the use of transformational leadership training. This program will also be used to influence athlete attitudes and behaviors toward concussion reporting through personalized normative feedback and by building team consensus surrounding positive concussion reporting behaviors.

6. Budget Amendments

  • Federal and State Funded – Title I Improving Basic Programs with transfers between line items and a net increase of $1,490,373, ESEA Consolidated administration with transfers between line items, Title II Part A Teacher & Principal Training & Recruiting with transfers between line items and a net increase of $200,659, Safe Schools Grant with transfers between line items and a net increase of $10,990, Title III English Language Acquisition with transfers between line items and a net increase of $22,300, Family Resource Centers with transfers between line items, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 2) with transfers between line items, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 4, Dalewood Middle) with transfers between line items, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 3) with transfers between line items, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 2, East Lake Academy) with transfers between line items, IDEA Preschool with transfers between line items and a net increase of $56,480, IDEA Part B with transfers between line items and a net increase of $113,446, IDEA Discretionary Grant with transfers between line items, Coordinated School Health with transfers between line items, Volkswagen Teacher Training & Development Self-Funded Program totaling $5,445, and Maintenance Recyclables Self-Funded Program totaling $6,874
  • General Operating – Board approval is needed to amend the FY16 General Purpose Operating Budget for the attached transfers between accounts

Campus Support

  • Sale Creek Middle / High School addition – bids were received by Hamilton County Purchasing Department and the bid of Dillard Construction is considered at $10,499,029
  • Additional buses are needed to serve Ooltewah Middle and High, Hunter Middle and Central High
  • A compliance report for 2015/16 is requested in order to certify that the school system is in compliance with Tennessee statutes and State Board of Education rules and regulations

Board Policy

  • Food Service Employee Health Policy – the purpose of this policy is to ensure that all food service employees notify the “Person In Charge” if they experience any conditions (ex. diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, sore throat with fever, or lesions) listed so that the appropriate steps are taken to prevent Foodborne illness or communicable diseases

Administrative/ Business Matters

  • Update on Facilities Committee Meeting



Welcoming New Fall Interns

This fall, UnifiEd hired 4 new fall interns who are helping with research, community outreach, graphic design, and web development. With the new release of the Pact for Public Education they will be able to help us to spread the word about the Pact and to build a stronger community coalition. We are excited to get more students involved in our work. Here’s more about our new interns!

juliaMy name is Julia Jedamski and I am one of the two Southern Promise Interns working at UnifiEd this fall. This program pairs freshman and sophomores from Southern Adventist University with local non-profits to gain skills in their area of interest. I’m from New Market, Virginia. I am currently a freshman majoring in Clinical Psychology. I hope to work in occupational therapy for special needs children. In my spare time I like to draw and swim. Fun facts about me: I have been swimming competitively since I was 8, I have played 25 seasons of soccer, and I love Thai food.


jacksonHi, my name is Jackson Mowrer, and I’m the second Southern Promise Intern from Southern Adventist University. I am currently a freshman majoring in History with a Pre-Law track. In the future I hope to work with the Department of Justice. I am very excited to be here through the Promise scholarship program, and I am really enjoying working at UnifiEd with all the fellow interns. In my spare time, I like to play softball and football. Fun facts about me: I have a dog named Harley, I am originally from Pennsylvania, and I recently suffered from a softball injury and got to ride in an ambulance for the first time.

selmaHi, my name is Selma Dedovic, and I’m the new Research and Policy Intern this fall at UnifiEd! I’m from Bosnia i Herzegovina but have been living in Memphis, TN most of my life. I am currently a senior at UTC and majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Studies.  I hope to be a lawyer and give back to my community. UnifiEd is giving me the opportunity to learn how to give back and how little actions can have a big impact! In my spare time I like to paint and do photography. Some fun facts about me: I love to surf, I have no middle name, and I got to crawl in one of the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt.

mitchHi! My name is Mitch Millsaps and I am the new Communications Intern here at UnifiEd. I’m from Knoxville, TN and am currently a freshman at UTC majoring in Graphic Design. I am glad to be working at UnifiEd so I can produce graphics that can benefit the community while learning new skills through advocacy work. In my spare time, I like to bake and design mobile apps. Some fun facts about me: I learned Photoshop when I was 13, I am great at writing formal emails, and I once managed to burn mac & cheese.

Student SoundOff: A Seat At The Table

“We can make our voice louder, we can make them hear us by forming this group and doing something positive.” – Brainerd High School senior

“I just feel like if they listen, some things wouldn’t happen like they do. We’d have better health, better teachers, better everything.” – Howard senior 

Teachers, counselors, and parents across Hamilton County have found common places to work with one another across school lines. These places vary from professional development workshops to organizations that support various schools. What’s interesting is that there are very few spaces for students from different schools to meet that aren’t competitive. We may see one another at a football game, mock trial competition, or maybe even when we take the ACT, but when do we get the chance to collaborate and improve our community?

Student voice is integral when discussing issues in our education system because we spend more time in our county’s schools than any other group. It’s hard to form a cohesive student voice when we don’t have opportunities to come together; remaining separated can be detrimental if we truly want to make change. We are working to create these opportunities for Hamilton County students. We started by organizing Student Roundtables, inviting students from every high school in Hamilton County to share their thoughts on our school system.

We recently held a student roundtable at The Howard School. We were happy to have six students representing 5 different high schools attend because having a smaller group allowed us to have a much more intimate and deep discussion. They were shy at first but as we began working through icebreakers, asking questions such as “What is one thing you believe your school is doing well?”, we saw ideas begin to flow. A student from Brainerd responded, ”My teacher’s text me daily asking “are you okay”. We have teachers that do that. We have teachers that care.” When asked if they feel like they have a say in decision making students expressed frustration in being left out – “Our students don’t really have a voice. They listen to us, but it goes in one ear and out the other. We don’t have a voice.”

We also asked questions such as, “If we were going to go to the schools and out to the community, what would be the best groups to reach out to?” A student responded, I think y’all should reach out to anybody honestly. You have students from hard places, like the hood, but they want to do good, to better themselves. You should reach out to everybody.” Another focused on the necessity of provided food and snacks for participants – “Ima be honest…. Food. That’s like the number one thing. They would be like, “shoot, they got us free food.”

Email nick@unifi-ed and akia@unifi-ed if you’re interested in learning more about our Student Team, and if you’d like to attend or host a Student Roundtable in your area.

Are you a high school student passionate about education and student voice? Apply to join our team and become a Student Organizer! Click through for a job description.