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A Trailblazing Promise

  • 4 Min Read

In 2010, the state of Tennessee was propelled into the spotlight when it was selected to lead the nation in education reform through Race to the Top. While gains have been made, Tennessee still ranks 43rd in the number of working adults with a two year degree or higher. Recognizing the need for a more disruptive approach, Governor Bill Haslam has challenged the state by introducing the “Tennessee Promise,” a historic proposal which commits to providing two years of community college—or a college of applied technology free of tuition and fees—to graduating high school seniors.

It’s a clear commitment and statement to both families and employers that education beyond high school is a priority in the state. The Tennessee Promise is part of Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree beyond high school. In eleven years, 55% of Tennesseans will need a certificate or degree to get a job—but today, only 32% of Tennesseans qualify.

Other Drive to 55 efforts include:

  • Expansion and increased budget for D2L’s Degree Compass™ program
  • Creation of an Adult Student Data System to identify and recruit adults who are most likely to return to college and complete their degree
  • Workforce alignment resources and grants to connect education institutions with employers to focus on closing skill gaps

At D2L, we’re privileged to play a role in helping Tennessee reach these goals. Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), a D2L client, is comprised of forty-six institutions with a combined annual enrollment of over 200,000 students across the state, making it one of the largest U.S. systems of public higher education. TBR has been a leader in innovation and the use of technology to advance e-learning education.

With a relentless focus on helping improve education and outcomes, we are thrilled to partner with these institutions. They are some of the country’s most progressive and successful schools when it comes to addressing achievement gaps, improving graduation rates, and creating conditions for student success that will result in skilled, quality graduates joining the workforce.

  • The Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has recognized TBR’s Online Campus Collaborative program as “one of the more robust efforts to promote online learning in the country, resulting in an above-average grade of B. The program provides a clear path for students who register at a ‘home campus’ and then take online courses at four and two-year institutions across the state.”
  • President Obama has cited Tennessee’s efforts toward higher education reform and Austin Peay State University’s Degree Compass program as innovative initiatives in the Plan to Make College More Affordable. Analysis of the data from pioneering institutions show the Degree Compass program makes a difference. Over a two-year period, Degree Compass helped substantially greater proportions of students receive passing grades, especially across population demographics whose history has shown could benefit from better advice. Read more about this groundbreaking research here.

With these bold commitments in place, we are inspired to help Tennessee and TBR achieve these goals and continue their trailblazing path to improve education. We look forward to having TBR join us in their home state this July to share their leading technology practices with the D2L community at FUSION 2014.

We hope you’ll join us!

John

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