Department Of Education Outlines Path For Students To Be Ready For College And Career

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tennessee officials launched a renewed effort Thursday to focus on students’ readiness for life after high school. At an event at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch that brought together state leaders, industry partners, educators, and students, the Tennessee Department of Education released the Seamless Pathways: Bridging Tennessee’s Gap Between High School and Postsecondaryreport, which provides recommendations to ensure Tennessee continues to move toward achieving its statewide goals for postsecondary completion set forth by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam through the Drive to 55 initiative. 

Since the 2013 launch of the Drive to 55—the governor’s initiative for 55 percent of Tennesseans to be equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025—leaders and educators in K-12 and higher education have risen to the challenge of preparing more students for life beyond high school. To further these efforts, Tennessee has implemented a series of nationally recognized efforts aimed at helping high school students transition from graduation to postsecondary.

These include providing financial support and mentorship through Tennessee Promise; sharing more guidance with students through AdviseTN; offering more early postsecondary opportunities and increasing the spotlight on students’ access to them through a new school-level accountability framework; and hosting focus groups with high school students to hear firsthand about their experiences.

Additionally, Tennessee was named as a recipient of the $2 million New Skills For Youth grant designed to build on locally and regionally led efforts through the statewide Pathways Tennessee initiative, which works to strengthen and expand education-to-career learning pathways for Tennessee’s students. 

Even with this renewed focus, Drive to 55 remains an ambitious goal that will require the state to support and equip more high school students to be successful after graduation, especially as the job market increasingly demands credentials beyond a high school diploma. 

"When you’re recruiting companies to Tennessee, you learn right away that conversations about economic development become conversations about education,” Governor Haslam said. “Education isn’t K through 12, it’s K through J—kindergarten to job, and we won’t meet our Drive to 55 goals if we don’t succeed in K-12. We’re focused on getting students ready for college, into college, out of college and tying their education directly to workforce needs, and we’re seeing incredible results. Now we need to build on this success throughout our pipeline to make sure students’ high school diploma serves as a seamless passport into college and career success.” 

“Tennessee is set to become the national leader in preparing students for the workforce of tomorrow," said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.  "The opportunity to lead the nation is here. The opportunity to serve all students is here.  The programmatic vision put into place by the Governor under Drive to 55, along with the aligned efforts of existing agency programs and priorities, has afforded Tennessee an opportunity to go further than any other state in implementing a seamless kindergarten-to-job approach for our students. And now, we have the ability to make research-based decisions about how to strategically invest our time, energy, and resources to maximize our students’ potential.” 

Thursday's release and launch event will help the department build on progress to date by highlighting where the state can continue to improve in K-12. Based on evidence presented in the Seamless Pathways report, the department offers four recommendations that districts, schools, and community stakeholders can employ to help students take advan­tage of postsecondary opportunities: 

1. Foster collective responsibility among middle and high school faculty and staff for the postsecondary prepared­ness of their students.
2. Communicate with students about their postsecondary and career options early and often.
3. Ensure all students have equitable access to course oppor­tunities to increase postsecondary readiness and success.
4. Leverage external partnerships and resources for added capacity, expertise, and influence. 

Thursday’s report acknowledges these efforts will take a tremendous amount of work and calls for significant support from all partners—from public officials to community organizations and foundations to educators and parents—to support schools and students, said officials. As a complement to this call to action, last month the state’s Career Forward Task Force—a group of industry leaders, non-profit organizations, state agencies, advocates, educators, parents and students—released its next steps to help ensure the further development of seamless learning pathways that successfully transition students from high school to postsecondary education and the workforce, as well as its profile of what academic, technical, and employability skills a successful K-12 student should possess at time of graduation. Both releases make clear that though Tennessee has made notable strides, more must be done across local, regional and state levels to ensure all students are set up for lifelong success. 

In addition to Thursday’s event, which features the voices of high school and college students on their readiness for postsecondary, Commissioner McQueen released a blog on the department’s website outlining additional takeaways from the department’s research and how the state will continue to support this work. The full report released Thursday is available on the department’s website. For more information about the department’s college and career readiness efforts, please contact Danielle Mezera, assistant commissioner of college, career and technical education, at 

Lemley Named HDCOE Distinguished Alumnus Of The Year

TDOE Releases 2019-20 ACT State Results And Participation Rate Data

Kendrick Receives Lee University Honorary Alum Of The Year Award

Lucas Lemley was honored as the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus for Lee University’s Helen DeVos College of Education. “Lucas Lemley took his training at Lee and has become an extraordinary teacher ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Department of Education on Friday released the ACT state results and participation rate for the 2020 graduating class. Participation remained relatively stable with 62,564 graduates ... (click for more)

Lee University presented Alex Kendrick the Honorary Alum of the Year Award at last Saturday’s virtual Homecoming celebrations. “The Honorary Alumnus of the Year award goes to someone who has ... (click for more)

Student Scene

Lemley Named HDCOE Distinguished Alumnus Of The Year

Lucas Lemley was honored as the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus for Lee University’s Helen DeVos College of Education. “Lucas Lemley took his training at Lee and has become an extraordinary teacher and administrator in Bangkok for the past decade,” said Dr. Bill Estes, dean of Lee’s Helen DeVos College of Education. “His work and commitment at the International Community School have ... (click for more)

TDOE Releases 2019-20 ACT State Results And Participation Rate Data

The Tennessee Department of Education on Friday released the ACT state results and participation rate for the 2020 graduating class. Participation remained relatively stable with 62,564 graduates taking the ACT, and the state average composite ACT score for 2019-20 school year is 19.9, also relatively stable from the average composite score of 20.0 for the 2019-2019 graduating class. ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Charlie Poss Chosen New Signal Mountain Mayor; Parking Issue Continues At Signal Point, Rainbow Lake

Signal Mountain has a new mayor. Charlie Poss, an environmental attorney who has volunteered as a member of the town’s planning commission for the past 10 years, was elected unanimously by his fellow council members Monday evening during their regular monthly meeting. Mayor Poss was one of three new council members chosen during the recent election. Susannah Murdock, ... (click for more)

TVA Names New Leaders For Sequoyah And Browns Ferry Nuclear Sites

The Tennessee Valley Authority has named new leaders as site vice presidents for its Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear plants. Matt Rasmussen was named site vice president for the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Al. earlier this month and Tom Marshall will step into the site vice president role for Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Soddy Daisy at the end of the month. ... (click for more)


Enforce The Mask Mandate Or Death For Many Lies Ahead - And Response (9)

The news media is in a unique position to save a lot of lives. The sheriff will not enforce a mask mandate unless he feels.. something. At some point. Driving around Chattanooga today I saw no one on the street in a mask. Not one of the people walking around, from East Brainerd to North Chattanooga. Everything is open and people are left with nothing ahead. Except death ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Consider The Big Picture

Here we are, two days this side of Thanksgiving, and to read or watch the news, there ain’t a lot of things going on around us where gratitude, and the art of sincere thanks, are most prominent in our view. As a matter of fact, it may be that never has it been as lacking. Monday afternoon I watched a video on the news channels that showed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his ... (click for more)