Tennessee State Capitol

The 113th General Assembly made progress on several of SCORE’s education priorities prior to adjourning on April 25. New laws and investments from the 2024 legislative session will accomplish important goals such as addressing Tennessee’s charter facilities challenge, strengthening pathways between education and work, and supporting postsecondary student success.

Bolstering Support For K-12 Students And Teachers

Tennessee made significant progress in addressing the public charter school facilities challenge through two complimentary strategies: grant funding and increasing access to underutilized and vacant facilities. The 2024-25 budget includes a new $15 million investment in the charter school facilities fund to assist in acquiring and improving public charter school facilities. Further, lawmakers passed an important bill clarifying the process for granting public charter schools right of first refusal to purchase or lease underutilized or vacant district buildings (Public Chapter 923).

This session was also marked by an ongoing commitment to strengthening the teacher pipeline, with the state investing $500,000 toward four organizations that prepare educator candidates: Teach For America, Man Up, Nashville Teacher Residency, and Memphis Teacher Residency.

Publishing New Data Dashboards

This year saw progress in providing stakeholders information to understand how students are progressing through K-12 and higher education and into the workforce. SCORE supported a bill to elevate the state’s commitment to data-driven decision-making by codifying its longitudinal data system and requiring the creation of data dashboards to highlight student paths between education and careers (SB461/HB902). While that bill was not funded and therefore did not become law, lawmakers expressed support and state agencies reflected their belief in the value of data by releasing three new interactive data dashboards linking education and employment data. The College System of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development jointly released Careers Start Here on March 27, and the Tennessee Office of Evidence and Impact released an Education To Employment dashboard and a Postsecondary Enrollment And Completion dashboard on April 1.

Strengthening Connections Between Education And Careers

This General Assembly was also committed to ensuring students have access to early postsecondary and career experiences that put them on a pathway to a career. First, lawmakers passed a bill to allow dually enrolled high school students priority enrollment at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) — giving students already pursuing TCAT clock hours thorough dual enrollment a path to earning a career-aligned credential after high school graduation (Public Chapter 581). Second, a new law to increase the number of work-based learning credits students can earn reflected a commitment to giving students access to, and credit for, high-quality work-based learning that provides career exposure and experiences (Public Chapter 543).

The final 2024-25 budget also included several items underscoring the state’s commitment to important education-industry partnerships that build career pathways for students, including:

  • $1 million to support the BlueSky Institute
  • $2 million for Hamilton County Workforce Development Schools
  • Nearly $16 million to fund a Rural Health Care Pathways Program
  • Over $3 million recurring for the Blue Oval TCAT
Prioritizing Postsecondary Student Success

In a continuing commitment to fund public postsecondary institutions based on outcomes, the state invested more than $17 million in the outcomes-based funding formula. This action rewards institutions for improving student outcomes like student progression and credential attainment.

And in a first step toward the longer-term goal of understanding which degrees and credentials are leading to careers that enable economic independence for students, lawmakers passed a bill that defines quality nondegree credentials (Public Chapter 925).

With these changes, the state continues the work to transform education so that all Tennessee students can develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in school, career, and life.