Tennessee must fix the leaks in the education-to-career pipeline in order to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.
- Sen. Bill Frist, MD, is chairman and founder of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
- David Mansouri is president and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
2024 marks 15 fifteen years since the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) was founded with a mission to catalyze transformative change in Tennessee education so that all students can achieve success. Today, that commitment to Tennessee students remains stronger than ever.
Grounded in our mission, strengthened by our partnerships, and led by student-focused priorities, SCORE continues to strongly support innovative policies and practices where:
- All students receive an excellent public K-12 education
- All students earn a credential or postsecondary degree of value that prepares them for a career enabling economic independence
- Economically disadvantaged students, students of color, and rural students see improved success across all goals relative to their peers.John DeBerry, Special Advisor to Gov. Bill Lee Visits Williamson County Feb 7
For the past 15 years, Tennessee has been a trailblazer in championing student-centered and research-backed education strategies to accelerate student success from kindergarten to career.
But as we look to the next chapter, we know that Tennessee must do even more. While student outcomes in our K-12 system are trending in the right direction, far too many students are still being left behind.
That is why in SCORE’s 2024 State of Education in Tennessee report, we are calling for a new strategic alignment between education and work to prepare students for success in Tennessee’s rapidly evolving economy.
Fix the education-to-workforce leaky pipeline
Research tells us that around 60% of the state’s jobs require some sort of postsecondary degree or credential, and we know education has the potential to be life-changing for Tennesseans.
Yet just 26% of Tennessee students who started high school in 2012 went on to attend postsecondary education and earn an award by the summer of 2022.
These numbers are even lower for students of color over the same time period.
The pipeline to postsecondary education, and ultimately to the job market, is broken. Our education system is not currently supporting all students to succeed. Students need clearer paths toward economic independence and a choice-filled life.
To help address this leaky pipeline, one of our top recommendations this year is to make education and workforce data more accessible so that it can drive policy decisions and improve student outcomes.
Tennessee already has a statewide longitudinal data system that connects education and workforce data over time to offer insight into students’ education-to-work journeys and to identify trends.
This system can be a powerful tool to help educators know where to improve programming and employers know where to find future talent or identify talent gaps.
But despite this wealth of information, it is not easily accessible to those who are working most closely with students and is therefore not actionable. Of the 40 states with a longitudinal data system in place, Tennessee is one of only three without a public-facing website for its system.
This limitation in data access prevents families, educators, employers, and other community leaders from easily working together around clear solutions to advance education-to-work pathways.
We are calling for the creation of new public-facing dashboards, adding new career-relevant information into the system, and actively supporting the use of this data to support both the academic and career success of more Tennessee students.
Give every Tennessee student the opportunity for a lifetime of success
Our commitment this year extends to strengthening education-to-work pathways, investing in and expanding the teacher pipeline, supporting innovative school models, and ensuring all Tennessee students have a degree or credential of value that prepares them for a career enabling economic independence.
We hope you will read SCORE’s full list of recommendations in this year’s State of Education in Tennessee report at tnscore.org/soe. Join us as we roll up our sleeves to better align our education system to the realities of our labor market and give every Tennessee student the opportunity for a lifetime of success.
Senator Bill Frist, MD, is chairman and founder of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
David Mansouri is president and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming