Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen unveiled Tennessee Pathways as a part of the Drive to 55, the governor’s initiative to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with postsecondary credentials to 55 percent by the year 2025. Tennessee Pathways lays the foundation for the Drive to 55 by focusing on students in elementary, middle, and high school to further align K-12 education to opportunities after high school graduation — including industry needs and postsecondary expectations — so students gain the knowledge and experience to move seamlessly into college and the workforce.
Tennessee Pathways will include a nearly $2 million state investment in regional coordinators, who will provide technical assistance to school systems and guidance on increasing the number of pathway opportunities available to students. And with funding from the state’s New Skills for Youth grant, the department will continue to offer grant funding directly to districts to prepare more students to be ready for the workforce.
Additionally, Tennessee Pathways will recognize exemplary districts and schools through a competitive designation process.
The three major indicators to earn this designation will include:
• kindergarten through career advisement;
• cross-sector collaboration across K-12, postsecondary programs, employers, and community organizations;
• and early college and career experiences.
The designation will also come with incentives that include the ability to access innovation funding to drive new ideas in this space.
“I launched the Drive to 55 with the goal to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate because all Tennesseans deserve the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career, and that includes the education and training to get there,” Haslam said.
The Tennessee Pathways designation process will give districts a roadmap for aligning academic preparation to college and career expectations, providing quality student advisement at all grade levels, partnering with employers and postsecondary to expand opportunities to earn college credit and work experience while in high school, and increasing the number of students seamlessly enrolling in postsecondary and ultimately obtaining credentials that lead to high-quality careers.
For more information about Tennessee Pathways, please contact Jerre.Maynor@tn.gov.