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CCTE Transition Advisory Council Outlines Recommendations to Strengthen Programs, Industry Connections in TN Schools

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 12:30pm

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Education announced new steps forward in its work to strengthen the integration of postsecondary and workforce readiness throughout K-12 education, ultimately preparing students to meet the demands of the real world. Through a new report, the College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) Transition Advisory Council provides recommendations and guidance as the department moves forward in its work to successfully transition students from high school to postsecondary education and beyond.

“The insight and recommendations from this council will help us take actionable steps as we work to build stronger pathways for students from high school graduation and beyond,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “This report complements and builds upon the work already set out by the department’s strategic plan, Tennessee Succeeds, which has core goals focused on developing postsecondary and career ready graduates. While the department has continuously sought and built upon the feedback we’ve received from industry and workforce partners, these recommendations will allow us to further our work to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the future.”

Commissioner McQueen established the CCTE Transition Advisory Council in summer 2017 to provide insight and guidance as the state welcomed new leadership to drive its work in postsecondary and career readiness. The group held meetings over the course of the year, having discussions with Commissioner McQueen and the department’s new CCTE leadership — including Assistant Commissioner Casey Haugner Wrenn and Deputy Commissioner Lyle Ailshie — to provide feedback on current CCTE work. The feedback specifically focused on the challenges, desires, and barriers to successful implementation of high-quality CTE programs. They also provided input to the department on a unified vision related to the next stage of college, career, and technical education.

In their meetings, the council members reviewed activities and programs from the department’s CCTE division over the past five years to evaluate effectiveness and progress toward goals. Throughout the meetings, members documented areas where they agreed with the current direction of the department and offered recommendations for further alignment and refinement to ensure students are ready and able to meet the demands of employers and colleges.

The 27 recommendations, which are listed in full in the report, fell into one of four categories: Postsecondary Alignment; Work-Based Learning, Apprenticeships, & Industry Engagement; Student Advisement & Career Exploration; and High-Quality CTE Programs. Below are some of the recommendations of note, several of which the department has already begun to act upon and implement:

  • The department should work with the General Assembly to increase budget investments to allow for more students to participate in high-quality early postsecondary opportunities.
  • The department should update the CTE concentrator definition to allow one course in aligned work-based learning to count toward a student’s concentrator status.
  • The department should work with the General Assembly and other stakeholders to incentivize companies for participating in apprenticeship and other work-based learning opportunities through tax credits or other incentives.
  • The State Board of Education should develop a policy that incorporates a “work ethic” diploma into graduation with distinction.
  • The department should work with Department of Labor, Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Governor’s office to develop clear statewide guidance and shared goals around industry engagement in K-12 education.
  • The department should provide guidance and training to support schools in implementing career awareness and exploration initiatives, including summer bridge programs. The State Board of Education should consider adding career exploration as a graduation requirement and adding aptitude inventories to existing exploration tools.

The advisory included a broad spectrum of stakeholders from business, education, government, and communities across the state. The CCTE Transition Advisory Council included the following members:

  • Jeff Aiken, president, Tennessee Farm Bureau  
  • John Blakely, CTE director, Scott County Schools
  • Dean Blevins, director, Tennessee College of Applied Technology­­ — Elizabethton
  • John Cagle, CTE director and assistant principal, Jefferson County Schools
  • Jimmy Davis, president, Middle Tennessee Manufacturing Leadership Council, and owner, the Davis Groupe
  • Beth Duffield, senior vice president of education and workforce development, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
  •  Jeff Frazier, dean of the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Eastman Chemical
  • Marc Hill, chief policy officer, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Bradley Jackson, president, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • George Leake, CTE director, Obion County School District
  • Tim Parrott, director of schools, Anderson County Schools
  • Tyra Pilgrim, CTE director, Rutherford County Schools
  • Karen Pitts, CTE director, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
  • Senator Jim Tracy, Tennessee General Assembly

You can review the complete CCTE Transition Advisory Council report on the department’s website here. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at (615) 532-6260 or Sara.Gast@tn.gov.