High School Work-Based Learning Framework
In an increasingly complex global economy, all students must be prepared with intellectual, technical, and social skills needed to compete and contribute meaningfully to their communities. For most, this will mean completing some postsecondary education or training; for all, it will mean learning about themselves and the world of work.
Work-Based Learning (WBL) is a proactive approach to bridging the gap between high school and high-demand, high-skill careers in Tennessee. Students build on classroom-based instruction to develop employability skills that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and future careers. Through experiences like internships, apprenticeships, and paid work experience, juniors and seniors age 16 and older may earn high school credit for capstone WBL experiences. WBL coordinators are educators who are trained and certified by the Tennessee Department of Education to coordinate these WBL experiences for their students.
Innovative High School Models Grant
The goal of the Innovative High School Models program is to encourage strong strategic and innovative partnerships between Tennessee public school districts, postsecondary education institutions, and local employers to reimagine how to prepare students for success after high school.
In total, $30 million in grant funding was awarded through a competitive application process, with individual grant awards from $750,000 to $2 million, to establish strategic partnerships that accelerate and increase student attainment of high-quality, in-demand postsecondary credentials.
The grant awardees were selected based on their commitment to rethink and revision high school educational models – from the use of time and space, entrance requirements, instructional practices and modes of learning, scheduling and mentorship, and training opportunities available to students – to provide new and additional pathways for students to be prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce.
Pathways to STEM Apprenticeships for High School Students
In 2018, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) was one of seven states awarded over $600,000 from the US Department of Education to promote registered apprenticeship opportunities in the STEM industry sector for high school students. With these funds, TDOE has partnered with three districts that have worked with employers to register apprenticeship programs with the United States Department of Labor for their students, including:
- Hamilton County Schools, whose machine operator apprenticeship program has helped employ over 75 students at Gestamp, Chattanooga
- Jefferson County Schools, whose combination welder apprenticeship program has helped Oshkosh Defense Corporation fill critical vacancies for the past two years; and
- Maryville City Schools, whose IT Generalist apprenticeship program allows students to work for the district and gain experience in one of Tennessee’s highest growing industries. Additionally, in partnership with their local chamber, the Tennessee Valley Youth Apprenticeship initiative has led to two additional registered apprenticeship programs for high school students in maintenance and culinary arts.