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Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the US Department of Education has approved the state’s plan, Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee, which will provide $110 million over four years in federal funds to implement CTE at the K-12 and postsecondary levels in Tennessee. The department also announced more than $3 million in Perkins Reserve Grants to 44 school districts for the 2020-21 school year.

Tennessee is required by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) to submit a state plan for CTE implementation. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee Plan expands equitable access to comprehensive CTE across the education to workforce pipeline, including in the early and middle grades, increases participation in high-quality and aligned career pathways and work-based learning experiences, and supports the attainment of relevant certificates, credentials, and/or degrees needed to meet the workforce demands of Tennessee.

The plan fully aligns with the department’s current strategic plan, Best for All, with a vision to expand opportunities for all students to explore, choose, and follow a career pathway to success.

The majority of the federal funds will be awarded to eligible K-12 school districts and postsecondary institutions through a non-competitive, population-based allocation and application, also known as the Perkins Basic.

The Tennessee plan establishes a clear, aligned vision for CTE, which supports the diverse regions and communities across the state in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Increases local flexibility to develop, implement, and improve CTE programs based on a Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) of local and regional high skill, high wage, and/or in-demand occupations.
  • Outlines strategies to double the number of students participating in work-based learning and earning the relevant certifications needed to meet workforce demand.
  • Earmarks additional funding for more intensive support for those students who are historically underserved or marginalized, such as individuals with disabilities, individuals from economically disadvantaged families, individuals living in distressed or at-risk areas, formerly incarcerated individuals, and homeless individuals.
  • Provides additional support and resources to expand CTE and STEM programs into early and middle grades.
  • Assists in CTE educator training and development of stronger instructional practices through alternative educator licensing strategies, including the creation of CTE Master Teacher and CTE Director Academy programs.
  • Includes bold new statewide strategies for early postsecondary credit, work ethics, leadership, and employability skill development to improve the quality of the emerging workforce in Tennessee.

Additionally, the Perkins Reserve Grant (PRG) is a competitive grant opportunity made possible through the Perkins V legislation. The PRG opportunity was redesigned under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee State plan to foster local innovation and support implementation of CTE programs and career pathways aligned with regionally identified high skill, high wage, and/or in-demand occupations or industries.

At the K-12 level for the 2020-21 school year, 44 school districts, representing 39 counties, 15 of which are economically at-risk or distressed, will receive a total of $3,087,625 in PRG awards. Some of the school districts receiving a 2020-21 Perkins Reserve Grant award include:

Bledsoe County School System – $12,000

Cumberland County School System – $35,000

Meigs County School System – $50,000

Overton County School System – $179,771 (Regional Careers Pathway Award)

Putnam County School System – $34,500

Applications were reviewed by a team of TDOE staff from the Division of College, Career and Technical Education and partners from the Tennessee Board of Regents. All applications needed to address at least one of the priority areas of the state plan – ensuring equitable access, aligning career pathways, and/or ensuring high-quality learning experiences, and the Regional Career Pathways application must also include a regionally focused secondary and postsecondary or workforce partnership.

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