Story by Mike Christen – The Daily Herald
Three Maury County Public School District high schools are leading the way in preparing students for careers and are some of the first to receive a certification from the Tennessee Department of Education.
A successful nursing services program available to students at Columbia Central High School, Culleoka Unit School and Spring Hill High School places the three local schools on a list of 74 certified pathway schools from across the state.
“This is a result of amazing work being done by teachers, principals and the MCPS CTE director to give kids aligned pathways to success beyond high school,” said Chris Marczak, superintendent of MCPS. “Out of the 144 Tennessee districts, we are proud to stand out in our offerings to students that are aligned to the 7 Keys to College and Career Readiness with a recognition by the Department of Education that MCPS is on the right path to success.”
The department launched the Tennessee Pathways Certification as the K-12 initiative under Tennessee’s Drive to 55 to elevate and celebrate model college and career pathways throughout the state. The certification recognizes strong alignment between high school programs of study offered, postsecondary partners, and high-quality employment opportunities in each institution’s region, the department said in a recent press release.
“These communities are working together to provide students with the skills they need to succeed beyond high school,” said Penny Schwinn, the state’s education commissioner. “Earlier this week, we unveiled the department’s strategic plan, which emphasizes providing quality academic programs, serving the whole child, and developing and supporting our teachers and leaders to ensure that every student is on a path to success. Schools across the state are making this a reality through the Pathways program. I am excited that we are able to recognize their efforts and encourage others to follow their lead.”
Tennessee Pathways is structured around three key elements shown to increase seamless enrollment and success in postsecondary programs:
- High-quality college and career advisement throughout K-12;
- Rigorous early postsecondary and work-based learning opportunities in high school; and
- 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.
The recipients of the Tennessee Pathways Certification were recognized last week by Commissioner Schwinn and Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Dr. Flora Tydings, at a formal recognition ceremony during the LEAD Conference.
All schools serving grades 9-12 in Tennessee were eligible to apply; however, it was encouraged that applicants bridge programming to elementary and middle schools within their school system. More than 400 applications were submitted from 81 school districts across the state. After a comprehensive review, a total of 122 pathways representing 74 high schools received the Tennessee Pathways Certification.
Each pathway was evaluated through a rigorous application process in which schools detailed their postsecondary and employer partnerships, early college and career experiences, and structures for providing students with high-quality career advisement.