Working together to meet the Drive to 55 postsecondary attainment goal, the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and their advocacy partner, TN SCORE, have “leveled-up” and developed a comprehensive set of programs and initiatives to facilitate seamless transitions between high school, higher education, and the workforce for students.
Tennessee’s Drive to 55 was developed by Governor Haslam in 2013 to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55% by the year 2025. Tennessee’s Drive to 55 provides a roadmap for how K-12 and higher education are working together to align expectations for student success.
Since the campaign was initiated in 2014, Tennessee’s K-12, higher education, and workforce leaders have developed the following programs and initiatives to increase the preparation, transition, and attainment success of students across the state:
- The Tennessee Promise is one of the signature initiatives of the Drive to 55. Tennessee Promise is a scholarship and mentoring program which is focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in TN. Tennessee Promise is a last dollar scholarship that will cover the cost of tuition and fees at the state’s community colleges, colleges of applied technology, or private colleges with eligible two-year programs. The Tennessee Promise also requires mandatory meetings with a mentor who will assist the student as he or she navigates the college application and enrollment process.
- TN SAILS began as a collaborative effort between Chattanooga State Community College and a local high school and was designed to increase the number of students who were college ready in mathematics. The Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) program, known as TN SAILS, was developed and scaled as strategy to improve college readiness and reduce remediation at postsecondary institutions throughout the state. The program breaks down the barriers to success by moving the remedial courses students previously took in college into the senior year of high school to ensure that students are college ready when they graduate. In the 2018-19 school year, the SAILS math program was offered to approximately 15,000 high school seniors that have not met the college ready benchmarks by the end of their junior year of high school.
- The Drive to 55 Alliance is a coalition of community partners, non-profit organizations, and workforce leaders who support the states Drive to 55 initiative. The alliance engages the larger community throughout the state by raising awareness and support for programs like tnAchieves which helps students navigate the college application and enrollment process
Since developing these initiatives there have been steady increases in the college readiness and college completion rates for students across the state. While Tennessee is making remarkable progress on their 2025 college completion goal, stakeholders from K-12, higher education, and the workforce are continuing to identify areas where they can they partner to enhance student success.