Tennessee Scholars has a clear and focused mission: To increase the percentage of Tennessee high school graduates that are prepared for post-secondary education, the workforce, or the military.
In the last 60 years a dramatic change has taken place in the job market: There has been a significant shift in the makeup of the job market away from unskilled jobs that require only short, on-the-job training to skilled jobs that require one to two years beyond a high school education, i.e., a certification program, specialized training, or associate’s degree. Tennessee is committed to helping all children graduate College and Career ready.
Data from a variety of sources demonstrate business’ need for a greater number of highly prepared workers. 90 percent of the positions in the fastest growing portions of the job market will require some education after high school. Analysts predict that the United States will have a shortage of 12 million qualified workers in the next decade, and many employers already say they cannot find qualified candidates for hourly positions, citing poor math, reading, writing, and basic employment skills. More than 60 percent of students are losing their Hope Scholarship the first semester in college. More than 65 percent of students going to community colleges require remedial classes.
Scholars is a proven, high-impact, low-cost initiative that has brought business and education leaders together in 85% of the counties, public and private schools, and home school to:
- Identify the decision point when students can choose a rigorous course of study;
- Train business leaders to present information to students prior to this decision point, with an 8th grade presentation;
- Recognize Scholars who complete the course of study;
- Work with local business, education, political and philanthropic leaders to create incentives for student completion of a rigorous course of study.
Some students might never enroll in a 4-year university. Just because these students choose to be plumbers, or construction workers, or mechanics, however, does not mean that they should not be prepared for the new challenges and opportunities that new technology will provide. The key principal that must be instilled in today’s students is that additional education, whether taken in a tech. school, community college, or a 4-year university, is a must, regardless of the type of career chosen. More education means more opportunities and more flexibility to make better choices.
Much of the early work done with the Scholars program, as it related to rigorous course taking, was predicated opinions. These opinions were driven largely by workplace experience in training employees — whether via formalized or on-the-job training. Fortunately, as years passed by, well-researched data arrived on the scene that validated this anecdotal, “common sense” thinking. Data has demonstrated that Tennessee Scholars who obtain the prerequisite knowledge and skills in high school for success after graduation are far less likely to need to learn those skills again later.
In 1999, Clifford Adelman, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Education, reported the results of a longitudinal study of 13,000 students enrolled in grade 10 in 1980 to age 26 in 1990. In Lessons from the Toolbox, Adelman found only a loose correlation between high school GPA and later success in college. Instead, Adelman discovered that completion of a rigorous high school course of study was the most significant predictor of success in higher education. In particular, the level of math and science completed were the strongest predictors of college success. This data helped us build the Tennessee Scholars core curriculum.
The Scholars program has spread so quickly because it is simple to implement, costs very little, makes use of people in the community, and actually works. The program works with business people, policy makers, and educators, informed by research, to define the high school courses that will provide students with a strong academic foundation for the future.
The results of more than nine years of Tennessee Scholars are:
- Tennessee Scholars performance on ACT has increased, 2013 Tennessee Scholars averaged 24.2 on ACT
- Tennessee Scholars require less remediation in college
- Employers gain access to a more stable and better qualified pool of candidates.
- Over 29,000 students have graduated as Tennessee Scholars in the last nine years
- Tennessee Scholars now has over 600 trained, volunteer business presenters across the state.
For a school System, Tennessee Scholars means:
- Better academic students. 2012 Tennessee Scholars average grade point was 3.2
- Better attendance. Tennessee Scholars maintain 95% attendance
- Better discipline. Tennessee Scholars graduated with no out of school suspensions
- Better teacher morale. Students are in class and motivated.
- Better test scores.
- More parental involvement. Parents understand the benefit of encouraging students to prepare early.
- Increase in graduation rate. 96% percent of Tennessee Scholars attend Tennessee post-secondary schools.
For the Business Community, Tennessee Scholars means:
- More Qualified Workforce
- Economic Prosperity
- A chance for their children to come back home to live and be successful
- Partnership opportunity with education and business
For the Student, Tennessee Scholars means: Benefits for Being a Tennessee Scholars
More institutions are offering scholarships than ever before.
- Job preferential hiring
- Awards and other incentives
- Higher ACT Scores
- Less Remediation in college
- Graduating from high school with the greatest number of options for success
- Prestige, because Scholars is now recognized all over the USA.