Tennessee Department of Education, Partners receive almost $1M Career Pathways Research Grant

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Analyzing and Understanding the Educational and Economic Impact of Regional Career Pathways research project.

Grant Funding to Support Research on Regional Career Pathways

Over the next three years, the partner institutions making up the grant’s research team — composed of Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), University of Massachusetts, and Education Strategy Group (ESG) — will conduct an evaluation of Tennessee Pathways, a state initiative to align K-12 education, postsecondary education, and employers to provide high school students with clear pathways to the workforce.

“In public education, we have a responsibility to make learning both engaging and exciting for every student while they are in school, and meaningful to them long after they graduate,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Tennessee Pathways is critical for the state and will build upon Tennessee’s history of collaboration between K-12, postsecondary and industry to create, strengthen and expand local partnerships that help students to be ready for success during and after high school.”

The funding from the IES grant, totaling $926,761, will support an evaluation of Tennessee Pathways, a state initiative to align K-12 education, postsecondary education, and employers to provide high school students with clear pathways to finding a job. A pathway is composed of a Career and Technical Education (CTE) elective focus, work-based learning experiences, early postsecondary coursework, and opportunities to earn an industry credential and/or articulate credits at a partner postsecondary institution.

 “Career pathways could be part of a solid bridge between school and jobs, but it is hard to know that without studying how they work and what they mean to students and schools,” said Celeste Carruthers, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Research takes time and resources, so I’m thrilled that IES is supporting this project. We have a great team, and I’m optimistic that our findings will inform educators in Tennessee and around the country.”

“Middle Tennessee State University and the Tennessee STEM Education Center are excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Education on this project,” said Dr. Chaney Mosley, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education, Middle Tennessee State University. “There’s a huge disparity between the skills that employers are looking for and the skills that job seekers actually have. Because Tennessee Pathways helps ensure students graduate with both technical and employability skills that address a growing skills gap, this research project is a great opportunity to study the impact of the program and its efficacy.”



Tennessee Pathways supports alignment among K-12, postsecondary, and industry to provide students with relevant education and training to jumpstart their postsecondary degrees and credentials.

Students, with their certificate, degree, or credential, can transition seamlessly into the workforce and contribute to the success of our economy. Tennessee Pathways is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Board of Regents.

For more information about the department’s research projects, visit the Research and Policy Briefs page.




Grant, Middle Tennessee State University, Nashville, Nashville TN, Penny Schwinn, STEM, TDOE, Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Pathways, University of Tennessee

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