HCS – Assessment and Opportunity

This past September, Governor Bill Lee made the announcement that many believe will impact Haywood County and the surrounding area for years to come.  With the arrival of Blue Oval City, Lee said it was, “The single-largest investment in state history…and will strengthen our workforce for generations.”  Immediately after making his announcement, Governor Lee and his team drove directly to Haywood High School to tour the Career and Technical building that houses many workforce development classes.  During that brief visit, Lee’s presence signified how important Haywood County Schools will be as Blue Oval City breaks ground and begins the work of eventually rolling electric cars off the plant’s assembly line. 

Since that day, nearly every county within driving distance of Haywood County has been frantically preparing for the inevitable growth and opportunity that will come to the area.  In Haywood County, the Joint Economic and Development Committee (JEDC) has kicked into overdrive in preparation for the coming change to the county.  

School systems play a vital role in any community, but in smaller communities like Haywood County, the school system oftentimes can rightfully be placed under a microscope.  With that in mind, the education committee of the JEDC requested an objective analysis of the current state of the school system with an emphasis on educational programs and structures.  Superintendent Joey Hassell connected with the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) which then enlisted Covariant Education as an independent, objective contractor to conduct the assessment and compile the data from the findings.  

Covariant Education has spent the last two months gathering information about the school and the community of Haywood County by conducting countless interviews of stakeholders and community members, school system employees at the district level as well as the school level, and looking at the last several years of data such as attendance and test scores.  The findings of this research revealed certain areas where HCS was showing significant progress as well as areas where HCS needed more support to achieve the vision of the district – “That all students, under the guidance of a passionate and qualified staff, will be equipped with the academic and social skills needed to be successful and productive citizens.”

Out of this data emerged four priority areas that must be addressed to ensure Haywood County Schools are ready to support all students:

  1. Ensure every student reads well by the third grade.
  2. Support each student to develop personal voice, agency, leadership, and soft skills.
  3. Give all students opportunities to engage in experiential learning that is focused on career exploration and aligned with the academic curriculum. 
  4. Offer all students the option to pursue accelerated pathways that can culminate in a fulfilling career. 

Over the course of the next few days, HCS will highlight programs and structures that are already in place that the district will continue to build upon in order to ensure our students find success once they leave HCS.  

HCS also recognizes that this is only the beginning of the work that needs to be done, and that the road to get there is long and winding.  Any growth has to begin with honest evaluation and authentic conversation.  HCS is excited to continue this journey as a collective part of the whole community.