State Report: Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement

Two years ago, Tennessee set an ambitious goal. Through the Drive to 55 Alliance, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect set a mission to get 55 percent of Tennessean equipped with a college degree of certification by the year 2025.

Many Moore County High School students use the Tennessee Promise program to attend Motlow State and area technical schools. {Photo Provided}

A recent Tennessee Comptroller report shows that Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement if Tennessee’s going to reach that goal.

The Tennessee General Assembly created Tennessee Promise in 2014 in order to encourage more high school graduates to earn an associates degree or technical diploma. Tennessee Promise scholarships offer two years of tuition-free attendance at area community colleges or technical schools including Motlow College in Moore County.

It’s sister program, Tennessee Reconnect, helps more adult learners attend community college and technical schools to earn a certification or postsecondary degree tuition-free.

TN Promise led to more college-going citizens

According to the report, more high graduates attend college as a result of Tennessee Promise. Tennessee’s college-going rate increased from 58.4 percent to 64.3 percent in the first year of the program. It also states that those students are accumulating more college credits, staying enrolled longer, and earning postsecondary credential at a higher rate than other high school graduates.

The report recommends increasing Tennessee Promise participation rates among students from certain subgroups and areas of the state who do not historically attend college including applicants with low ACT scores, minority applicants, and those from lower income households.

It also states that the program requirements most often missed by Tennessee Promise applicants were mandatory meetings and the community service requirement.

They identified several barriers to success such as the full-time enrollment requirement in the summer term and costs not covered by the
Promise program. Adjustments to those elements of the program, among
others, would likely allow more students to remain Promise-eligible and
enrolled in college, the report says.

It also states that first-seminars that teach the skills necessary for college success and hiring completion coaches are best practices that have been helpful at some community colleges.

The report offers solution for the General Assembly, mentor organizations, colleges, and technical schools. To read the full report, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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