Tennessee PathwaysAs a key component of Tennessee Pathways, our vision is to encourage high-quality implementation of student pathways in every high school by recognizing exemplary programs and partnerships across the state. The Tennessee Pathways certification will recognize and reward schools whose K-12 educational programs meet the three Tennessee Pathways levers for ensuring all students are college and career ready:
  1. High-quality college and career advisement throughout K-12
  2. Rigorous early postsecondary and work-based learning opportunities in high school
  3.  Seamless vertical alignment between K-12, postsecondary programs, and career opportunities as a result of effective partnerships among school districts, higher education institutions, employers and community organizations.


Tennessee Pathways Certification Process

The 2019-20 application, rubric, and process for applying incorporate stakeholder feedback and align with changes related to Perkins V federal legislation.

Timeline and Overview

Dec. 12, 2019

2019-20 Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Timeline Announced

Jan. 15, 2020

2019-20 Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Resources and Rubric Available

Jan. 6 - April 15

Tennessee Pathways Regional Coordinators Available for Technical Assistance

Feb. 10

Application Opens (Brightspace by D2L Platform)

April 15

Application Closes at 11:59 p.m. Central time

April 15 - May 30

Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Review Period

June 1

Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Results Available

July 2020

Tennessee Pathways Certification Recognition Event

  • A pathway is composed of an elective focus, work-based learning experiences, early postsecondary coursework, and opportunities to earn an industry certification and/or articulate credits at a partner postsecondary institution.
  • A pathway should include opportunities for a student 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.
  • A pathway should accelerate a student’s progress toward an industry or postsecondary credential thereby reducing time, costs, and opportunity costs as a student transitions from education to employment.
  • A pathway is a process of discernment, not a destination. Pathways are not intended to place students on tracks. They simply provide a jumpstart toward a student’s chosen path.

In order for a pathway to qualify for the Tennessee Pathways Certification, it must have the components listed below along with supporting documentation:

  1. a minimum of three courses in a specific area of elective focus and/or program of study at the high school level,
  2. a minimum of two early postsecondary opportunities aligned to the identified pathway (for example, statewide dual credit statistics and dual enrollment Mechatronics I),
  3. a partnership agreement with at least one postsecondary institution, and
  4. a spectrum of career-related experiences and advisement for grades 9-12 that include a partnership with at least one employer providing career-related experiences for students.”

Workforce Alignment

  • Aligning high school pathways to labor market needs is a hallmark of the certification process. Applicants can show workforce alignment through data from sources like Jobs4TN or the ECD County Profile Tool.

Rigorous Academic Coursework (Elective Focus)

  • The sequence of courses for a certified pathway should help prepare students for postsecondary education aligned to the identified labor market need or to enter the workforce with an industry credential aligned to the identified labor market need. The sequence of courses for the CTE elective focus must match the program of study as defined by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Early College & Career Experiences

  • Applicants can document EPSOs and evidence of career exploration through submission of master schedules for the current and upcoming school years showing course offerings, course selection procedures, and artifacts from events such as career fairs, job shadows and work-based learning portfolios.

Advisement Structures

  • Applicants will be required to outline advisement activities and experiences related to the pathway offered to high school students and describe the impact of your college and career advisement activities during this school year. For example, schools may have noticed an increase in EPSO enrollment or an increase in the attainment of industry certifications, which may be a result of the school hosting a special EPSO awareness event during EPSO week in October.

Cross-Sector Partnerships

  • Applicants will be required to submit articulation agreements with postsecondary partners. MOUs and/or letters of support from local businesses, employers, and chambers of commerce will need to be submitted as documentation for employer partnerships.

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

  • For schools ready to apply for 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.

Application Support

Regional coordinators are housed in each economic region of the state to provide support to schools and districts who are applying to certify their high school pathways. Regional coordinators can work with district and school leaders to understand labor market needs and expand or create new partnerships with postsecondary institutions and employers.

These partnerships with postsecondary institutions and employers should expand early college and career opportunities for all students to allow them to make a more informed decision about postsecondary and the workforce after high school graduation. The certification process is meant to support a district and school’s efforts to ensure all students are Ready Graduates. Ultimately, stronger connections between K-12, postsecondary, and employers will create better alignment between education and training at the K-12 and postsecondary level with labor market needs and lead to a stronger local and statewide economy.