Tennessee Pathways

As 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.

What is a pathway?

  • 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.

The Tennessee Pathways Certification will recognize and reward high schools whose pathways meet the following minimum requirements:

  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 includes a partnership with at least one employer providing career-related experiences for students.

Pathways regional coordinators will be available to provide technical assistance to applicants throughout the application window.


Tennessee Pathways Certification Process

This year’s application, rubric, and process for applying incorporate stakeholder feedback and align with changes related to Perkins V federal legislation.

Timeline and Overview

June 1 – Oct. 30, 2020

Tennessee Pathways Regional Coordinators Available for Technical Assistance

June 1, 2020

Application Opens (Brightspace by D2L Platform)

Aug. 31, 2020

Intent to Apply Deadline (Available here)

Oct. 30, 2020

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

Nov. 2 – Dec. 18, 2020

Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Review Period

January 2021

Tennessee Pathways Certification Application Results Available

February 2021 (date TBD)

Tennessee Pathways Certification Recognition Event

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 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.