Hamilton County Schools Increases Early Postsecondary Opportunities for Class of 2021


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education released ACT and Graduation Data for the graduating class of 2021; Hamilton County Schools (HCS) achieved an 85.5% rate of on-time graduation and an average ACT score of 18.9.  

As part of the Future Ready 2023 plan, HCS focuses on future ready students, including ACT, graduation, and early postsecondary opportunities. Almost 84% of 2021 on-time graduates completed one or more early postsecondary opportunities compared to only 68% of the 2020 graduating class. This included an increase in every historically underserved student group accessing these opportunities. 

The 2021 graduating class faced unique and unprecedented circumstances that contributed to both ACT and graduation rates experiencing a decline mirroring that of the state of Tennessee from the previous levels in 2020 (87% on-time graduation rate and 19.7 average ACT).  Due to the pandemic, only 38% of the class of 2021 were able to take the ACT more than once. However, in 2020, 89% of graduates took the ACT multiple times. This is significant because according to research conducted by ACT, taking the ACT multiple times is associated with increased overall composite scores for students. Moreover, in Tennessee, the accountability system uses a student’s highest overall composite score across all ACT administrations to determine school and district level average ACT scores.  

Even with these challenges, the class of 2021 completed 216 industry certifications during their senior year compared to only 73 certifications earned by the 2020 class during their senior year – a nearly 300% increase. Many of these industry certifications include Future Ready pathways such as welding and hospitality as well as collegiate pathway preparations like healthcare and engineering.

While the pandemic certainly impacted learning opportunities, HCS continued its progress in graduating students who are future ready, including workforce and postsecondary pathways, as part of the Future Ready 2023 strategic plan.