As a key component of Tennessee Pathways, our vision is to encourage high-quality implementation of student pathways in every Tennessee high school by recognizing exemplary programs and partnerships across the state.

What is a Certified Tennessee Pathway?

A Certified Tennessee Pathway…

  • Offers students the opportunity to move seamlessly into postsecondary education and the workforce because of close alignment between area K-12 school districts, postsecondary institutions, and employers;
  • Provides the opportunity for students to stack credentials — that is, build from one credential to the next in order to gain knowledge and skills that can lead to higher wages and broader employment opportunities;
  • Accelerates student progress toward an industry or postsecondary credential, thereby reducing time and cost as a student transitions from education to employment; and
  • Serves as a process of discernment, not a destination or “track” – they simply provide a jumpstart toward a student’s chosen path.

The Tennessee Pathways Certification recognizes and rewards high schools whose pathways meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. a minimum of three courses in a specific area of elective focus aligned to Tennessee graduation requirements (e.g., CTE program of study, Advanced Placement pathway, Math and Science pathway, middle or early college program) that includes
    • a minimum of two early postsecondary opportunities aligned to the identified pathway (e.g., statewide dual credit Statistics and dual enrollment Mechatronics I in a Mechatronics pathway, dual enrollment Math for Engineering Technology and AP Biology for a math and science pathway) and   
    • a partnership agreement with at least one postsecondary institution,
  2. a spectrum of career-related experiences starting in middle school and continuing throughout high school that includes a partnership with at least one employer, and
  3. an intentional focus on college and career advisement and providing equitable access to the pathway for all students.

Tennessee Pathways Certification Process

Application Support

Regional coordinators are located in each economic region of the state to provide technical assistance and support to districts who are applying to certify their high school pathways. Regional coordinators serve as resources and partners for district and school leaders to explore and understand labor market needs and expand or create new partnerships with postsecondary institutions and employers.

Regional coordinators will reach out to high schools in their regions to encourage their participation.

  • For schools ready to apply for the Certification: Regional coordinators will advise on documentation, artifacts, and other evidence of best practice to support the success of the school’s application.
  • For schools wishing to start or complete a pathway: Regional coordinators will offer technical assistance to help the school identify workforce needs, appropriate partners, advisement practices, and coursework—for the technical assistance, CORE CTE Consultants will be key partners.
  • For schools unsure of their needs: The application process can be worthwhile even if a school is unsure if they are ready for certification. For example, the application process may reveal a district is lacking an appropriate four-year college partner. The regional coordinators can help the district or school begin that process.