Low Literacy Rates & Academic Gaps In Hamilton County Highlighted In Podcast

Photo Credit: Hamilton County Schools & CC

Published March 23, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Hamilton County, TN – Hamilton County Schools have launched a new podcast with the stated aim of “connecting the community with what’s going on at HCS and answering listener’s most pressing questions.” 

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According to HCS, the podcasts will rotate between teachers, staff, students, parents, community partners and others. 

Dubbed “Extra Credit”, each podcast will last about 15 minutes and will be posted toward the end of each month. 

During the first podcast, HCS Communications Officer, Cody Patterson, spoke with Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson on “what steps were taken during this challenging year and how the community came together while staying apart.” 

Johnson spoke about how HCS EdConnect will affect students in the long-term. 

“The pandemic, what it did, is it made some of the challenges that we knew were there, underlying, more pronounced,” Johnson said. 

Johnson stated that one of the things that became abundantly clear was that there is a digital divide across Hamilton County’s urban, rural and suburban communities. 

“We have digital challenges…. So, for the next decade, every economic-disadvantaged student in Hamilton County will have access to free wi-fi,” Johnson said. 

Patterson asked Johnson what the top priorities of the school system are now that the pandemic has slowed and students are back in the classroom. 

“For us, it’s acceleration.  A lot’s been made about learning loss, we see it as an opportunity versus a loss and we want to accelerate and lean in,” Johnson said. 

Johnson stated the pandemic changed the approach the school system takes on everything from literacy to the way students are supported that may have academic gaps. 

“There will be a lot going on this summer to really move that work forward.  And so, we’ve got this moment in time to leverage every resource and pull every lever that we have to accelerate opportunities for each and every one of our children,” Johnson said. 

Patterson stated that may parents are uncertain about what to expect from the School District during the Summer and next school year. 

“We started, actually, last summer, in a targeted way, really trying to pull in students that we knew may have the most opportunity to capture back some learning,” Johnson said. 

Johnson stated that the wave of legislation from the Governor and the State Legislature will require expansion of what HCS piloted last year. 

“In the coming weeks, there will have more information to share.  We look forward to having more Summer sites with more opportunities.  Most likely, there will be a June session and a July session and parents will get to pick and choose as their particular students are tapped based on need, “Johnson said. 

Johnson stated that need will drive participation in the learning programs. 

“We know that this is an opportunity for us to accelerate two-fold because of some of what was done at the state-level and some of what’s being done at the Federal-level from a funding construct, so we’re able to offer what we did in a really controlled way a little more broadly this Summer … and the Summers to come,” Johnson said. 

Regarding next school year, Johnson said, “Covid won’t go away overnight but we are encouraged…as we look into next school year…we hope for as normal a school year as possible.” 

Parents/Guardians with children attending Hamilton County Schools can send questions they are interested in having answered to  

To listen and/or subscribe, click https://linktr.ee/hamiltoncountyschools or navigate to https://www.hcde.org/ and click on “Listen to our Podcast” at the top of the homepage. 

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