THEC Weekly Updates

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clockSaturday, March 18, 2017
Weekly Update 17 March, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

University of Memphis Board Training and Meeting

This morning, THEC staff began the first of six training sessions for the boards of the locally governed institutions established through the FOCUS Act. Mike Krause, Lauren Collier, Russ Deaton, and Scott Sloan will lead each of the training sessions. The University of Memphis board training took place this morning, and the board is having its first meeting this afternoon. The initial training from THEC provides an overview of Tennessee higher education structure and policies, FOCUS responsibilities and transitions, and fiscal policy. Dr. Carol Cartwright, a former university president and consultant with the Association of Governing Boards, will cover fiduciary responsibilities and the distinction between management and governance. Next week, THEC will travel to Tennessee Technological University and East Tennessee State University for their respective board training sessions and meetings.


Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) Advisory Board Meeting

On Tuesday, the annual SAILS Advisory Board meeting was held at THEC. The Advisory Board is made up of representatives from THEC, TDOE, TBR, UT, community college faculty, and K-12 district staff. The SAILS staff provided an update on the SAILS Math Unified Course and the SAILS English pilot. The Advisory Board approved the allocation of SAILS Math and English slots for SAILS students across the state for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. They also received an update from the Vanderbilt University research team that is studying the long-term success of SAILS completers.

 

SAILS Math Faculty Feedback Meeting

On Wednesday, Victoria Harpool represented THEC at a meeting of SAILS staff and community college and university faculty to review the SAILS tests used to demonstrate content mastery. Faculty worked to ensure that the SAILS course reflects the standards and rigor required to enter postsecondary credit-bearing math courses. The competency tests will be used in the new SAILS Unified Math course which allows completers to be placed in a credit-bearing math course without the need for remediation.


Capital Policies Working Group Meeting

On Thursday, members of the Capital Policies Working Group met with THEC’s fiscal policy staff for the fourth time to discuss the new process by which THEC staff will receive, rank, and recommend capital outlay projects to the Commission. At the January quarterly meeting, the Commission identified broad criteria that would be considered when prioritizing and recommending capital projects, including facility use and condition, connection to state and institutional goals, and project type and scope. The group—comprised of chief financial, academic, and facilities staff from each system and LGI—discussed rubrics for evaluating projects and the role of system priorities in the project scoring process. The Commission will consider a final capital outlay policy at the May quarterly meeting, which will be used this fall as part of the 2018-19 budget cycle.

 

Northwest Tennessee Reconnect Community Site Visit

Last Friday, staff of the Adult Learner Initiatives team visited Dyersburg to attend an inaugural meeting of the Guiding Team and Advisory Committee of the Northwest Tennessee Reconnect Community. The meeting provided an opportunity to hear from local Reconnectors about their experiences, receive updates on progress and successes achieved by the Northwest Tennessee Reconnect Community advising staff, and for THEC to provide information and updates on Tennessee Reconnect. The Adult Learner Initiatives team plans to do similar site visits in the future with each of the Tennessee Reconnect Communities.


Presentation at AEFP Conference

On Thursday, Emily House presented at the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) annual meeting in Washington, DC. This meeting is attended by academics studying education finance, as well as education policy practitioners. Emily spoke on a panel about Tennessee Promise and free college initiatives across the United States. Other panelists included Martha Kanter from the College Promise Campaign, Matthew Chingos from the Brookings Institution, and Celeste Carruthers from the University of Tennessee and the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER).

 

Presentations to Leadership Groups

On Wednesday, Kate Derrick presented to the WestStar Leadership Program organized through the University of Tennessee at Martin. The program provides development to up-and-coming leaders in West Tennessee. The group’s trip to Nashville was organized by the office of Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville). Kate presented to the group on THEC’s work around Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55, including highlights from Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect. Following the presentation, discussion from the group ranged from how scholarship funding is used across institutions in Tennessee to connections between Career and Technical Education programs and dual enrollment. Earlier in the week, Kate also presented to Leadership Unicoi, a leadership development group from Unicoi County being hosted in Nashville by Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City).


This week in the General Assembly:

·         The Tennessee Reconnect Act, via House Bill 531, will be considered by the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, March 22. The Senate Education Committee recommended its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, for passage last week and referred it to the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee for scheduling. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free. With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to earn a credential without the burden of paying tuition.


·         The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was recommended for passage by the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday. The next stop for House Bill 530 is the Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on March 22. There was no movement on the Senate version this week. SB 1216 was referred to the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee last week, but has not yet been scheduled. This legislation replaces the Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act and establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard with funding toward a bachelor’s degree through tuition reimbursement. The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and further supports the Drive to 55.


·         On Thursday, the House showed unanimous support for the update to the Veterans Education Transition Support (“VETS”) Act by voting 94-0 to pass the measure. House Bill 433, sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), is another key initiative aimed at supporting adults in higher education by empowering THEC to develop a publicly-available online database of course equivalencies for military training. This web-based tool will allow veterans and service members to determine the amount of college credit they will receive for their military experience, as well as the degree or certificate programs to which that credit would apply, prior to enrolling at a particular institution. Tennessee Tech will provide free technical assistance in creating the database.

 

An amendment to this bill grants in-state tuition to anyone using veteran educational benefits as long as they are currently living in the state, regardless of their official “home of record” or formal state of residence. This is a significant change in policy, and not only brings Tennessee into compliance with recent changes to federal law, but goes a step further in reducing barriers to educational attainment for vets and their families. The companion bill, SB 1232, sponsored by Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), passed in the Senate last week, also unanimously.


·         House Bill 553, sponsored by Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. (D-Nashville), creates the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HBCUs”) as an organizational unit of THEC to focus on ways to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest quality education, increase opportunities for HBCUs to participate in and benefit from state programs, and ensure that Tennessee has the highest proportion of college graduates from HBCUs in the country. The Initiative would be authorized to establish a Board of Advisors, consisting of 25 members appointed by the Commission, to guide THEC and the Initiative in its work toward these goals. The measure also requires the Initiative to consult with the Consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to ensure that it meets its goals.

 

HB 553 was recommended for passage in the House Education Administration and Planning Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled for the Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on March 22. The companion bill, Senate Bill 562 by Senator Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), is on the Senate Education Committee’s calendar for the same day.

 

·         House Bill 396, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), passed in the House on Thursday. This bill addresses a recently discovered compliance issue regarding Tennessee’s participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”) related to the handling of complaints by out-of-state students against Tennessee institutions. Once enacted, THEC will be designated as the final arbiter of these complaints when they involve online or distance education and are related to requirements imposed on a school solely by SARA. This change also updates statutory language to properly include the six locally governed universities under the FOCUS Act. The companion bill, SB 732, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), is scheduled to be considered by her committee on Wednesday, March 22.


Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         APSU announces dual enrollment partnership with Dickson County School System | Clarksville Online

·         Haslam to give Southwest commencement address | Memphis Commercial Appeal

·         Kingsport schools to adopt ACT WorkKeys through LEAP initiative | Kingsport Times-News

·         Northwest Tennessee Reconnect hosts regional meeting at Farms | State Gazette (Dyersburg)

·         TCAT, TCHS plan expanded Mechatronics program | The Hartsville Vidette (includes mention of LEAP grant)

·         University of Memphis board meeting set for Friday | Memphis Commercial Appeal

·         University of Tennessee grad programs among best in U.S. News rankings | Knoxville News Sentinel


National News and Reports

·         4 trends poised to transform the future of higher education | Education Dive

·         A boom in Promise | Inside Higher Ed

·         Fumble on a key FAFSA tool, and a failure to communicate | The New York Times

·         FAFSA completions reach 82 percent of last year’s total | National College Access Network(notes that Tennessee is still in lead for FAFSA filing and first state to surpass its filing rate from last year)

·         Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Finances (Report) | American Council on Education

·         More complications from IRS snafu | Inside Higher Ed

·         Tennessee governor, a Republican, leading free college movement | The Associated Press via WKYT (features quotes from Mike Krause)

·         When a few bucks can get students to the finish line | The New York Times

·         Why placing students in difficult high school classes may increase college enrollment | The Hechinger Report

clockFriday, March 10, 2017
Weekly Update 10 March, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

UT Martin Visit to THEC

Leadership from the University of Tennessee at Martin visited THEC this morning to meet with staff and learn more about how the campus and the agency can support their mutual goals. The visit was organized by Mike Krause and UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver. During the visit, staff from THEC’s academic affairs, fiscal, and research teams presented on their work and also highlighted data and programs specific to UT Martin. The visit is one of many upcoming campus visits, both to THEC and to individual campuses.

Veteran Education Academy at MTSU

On Wednesday, staff from THEC attended the statewide Veteran Education Academy at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) hosted by the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services. The event brings together staff from higher education institutions across the state (both public and private) that work directly with student veterans. In attendance from THEC were Kevin Bradley, Mitch Currey, Kate Derrick, Jessica Gibson, Brett Gipson, and Tom Morrison. Kate provided remarks on the VETS Campus designation and the Veteran Reconnect program, while Kevin and Jessica presented two breakout sessions on how veterans are getting college credit for military service and new developments in the field. Governor Bill Haslam also gave remarks at the event, focusing on the importance of postsecondary education in connecting veterans to jobs post-service.

Presentation to Leadership Blount

This week, the 2017 class of Leadership Blount was in Nashville for a series of meetings and discussions. On Wednesday, Russ Deaton participated in a panel discussion with Senator Dolores Gresham, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Representative Harry Brooks, Chair of the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, and David Mansouri, President of SCORE. The conversation focused on the history and future of K-12 and higher education reform.

UTK Data Science and Engineering PhD Site Visit

Last week, Betty Dandridge Johnson participated in a site visit at UT Knoxville for the proposed Data Science and Engineering PhD program.  The proposed program will link the resources of UTK and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to establish an interdisciplinary program that will focus on “big data” and its application to various research areas.  The program is modeled after the successful Energy Science and Engineering PhD program that was approved by THEC in 2011.

The proposed PhD program was evaluated by Dr. Ian Foster (Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago) and Dr. Timothy Persons (Chief Scientist of the United States Government Accountability Office).  Dr. Foster and Dr. Persons will submit a joint report based on the proposal and site visit and make a determination of program approval.  Contingent upon their recommendations, the program may be considered for approval by UT and THEC. The implementation of the program is contingent upon the approval of a $6.0 million request in the Governor’s FY 18 budget.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Feasibility Study Meeting

On Tuesday, Mike Krause, Betty Dandridge Johnson, and Pam Knox met with leaders from the public universities across Tennessee for a presentation of the Feasibility and Marketing Study by Tripp Umbach, a national higher education consulting firm from Pittsburg, PA.  For the past few months, THEC has been working closely with Tripp Umbach to study the need and demand for DNP programs.  The presentation led to an open dialog on the status of nursing education in Tennessee at the doctoral level and the determination to establish a statewide advisory council to explore issues related to clinical placement, student support, and nursing faculty shortages.  The presentation from the meeting is attached.

UT Knoxville Diversity in Teaching Site Visit

On Wednesday, Herbert Brown participated in a site visit at UT Knoxville for the Diversity in Teaching Program. This grant provides funds to graduate students from underrepresented groups with a commitment to diversity as an instructional tool. During the visit, students had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Education Job Fair. This annual event for licensed teacher candidates provided a chance for students to speak directly with recruiters from local and surrounding area school districts. After the fair, two recruiters who were previously in the program spoke to students about preparing for edTPA and their first year teaching experiences. 

This week in the General Assembly:

·         The Tennessee Reconnect Act was approved by the House Education Administration and Planning Committee on Tuesday.  The next stop for House Bill 531 is the Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, March 15.  The Senate Education Committee recommended its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, for passage by a vote of 9-0 the next day, and referred it to the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.  Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free.  With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to earn a credential without the burden of paying tuition.

·         The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), followed the same path as Tennessee Reconnect this week, passing in the House Education Administration and Planning Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, also by a vote of 9-0.  This legislation replaces the Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act and establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard with funding toward a bachelor’s degree through tuition reimbursement.  The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and further supports the Drive to 55.  STRONG and Reconnect travel together next week to the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday and to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on a date still to be determined.

·         On Monday, the Senate showed unanimous support for the update to the Veterans Education Transition Support (“VETS”) Act by voting 33-0 to pass the measure.  Senate Bill 1232, sponsored by Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), is another key initiative aimed at supporting adults in higher education by empowering THEC to develop a publicly-available online database of course equivalencies for military training.  This web-based tool will allow veterans and service members to determine the amount of college credit they will receive for their military experience, as well as the degree or credential programs to which that credit would apply, prior to enrolling at a particular institution.  Tennessee Tech will provide free technical assistance in creating the database.

An amendment to this bill grants in-state tuition to anyone using veteran educational benefits as long as they are currently living in the state, regardless of their official “home of record” or formal state of residence.  This is a significant change in policy, and not only brings Tennessee into compliance with recent changes to federal law but goes a step further in reducing barriers to educational attainment for vets and their families.  The companion bill, HB 433, sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), was recommended for passage by the House Education Instruction and Programs Committee this week and is scheduled to be presented on the floor of the House on Thursday, March 16.

·         House Bill 553, sponsored by Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. (D-Nashville), creates the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HCBUs”) as an organizational unit of THEC to focus on ways to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest quality education, increase opportunities for HBCUs to participate in and benefit from state programs, and ensure that Tennessee has the highest proportion of college graduates from HBCUs in the country.  The Initiative would be authorized to establish a Board of Advisors, consisting of 25 members appointed by the Higher Education Commission, to guide THEC and the Initiative in its work toward these goals.  The measure also requires the Initiative to consult with the Consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to ensure that it meets its goals.

HB 553 was recommended for passage in the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee on Tuesday and is scheduled for the full committee on March 14.  The companion bill, Senate Bill 562 by Senator Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), is on the Senate Education Committee’s calendar for the next day.

·         Senate Bill 1231 made its way to the Senate floor on Monday and passed by a vote of 32-0.  Sponsored by Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), this legislation amends the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) Act by defining the term “work-based learning” (WBL) as it is used in LEAP programs.  The definition is intended to clarify expectations for educators, employers, and students involved in LEAP internships and other experiential learning placements.  The bill includes a provision limiting the civil liability of employers participating in LEAP WBL.  Its companion, House Bill 445, sponsored by Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), was approved by the Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee on Wednesday and is now scheduled for the full committee on Tuesday, March 14.

·         House Bill 396, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), was recommended for passage by his committee on Tuesday and is on the House calendar for Thursday, March 16.  This bill addresses a recently discovered compliance issue regarding Tennessee’s participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”) related to the handling of complaints by out-of-state students against Tennessee institutions.  Once enacted, THEC will be designated as the final arbiter of these complaints when they involve online or distance education and are related to requirements imposed on a school solely by SARA.  This change also updates statutory language to properly include the six locally governed universities under the FOCUS Act.  The companion bill, SB 732, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for scheduling.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Consider ROI when investing in college degree (opinion) | The Jackson Sun

·         Complete Tennessee puts focus on postsecondary success | Citizen Tribute (Morristown)

·         Governor touts veterans’ qualities at MTSU event | Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro)

·         Haslam tuition plan draws local support | Manchester Times

·         How to prepare for college: advice from a successful graduate (blog) | Classroom Chronicles/Tennessee Department of Education

·         Nashville selected to participate in national cohort for education paths | Lebanon Democrat

·         Private colleges begin wooing the students coming through Tennessee Promise | WPLN/Nashville Public Radio

·         Survey reveals why it’s so hard for adults to go back to college | The Tennessean

·         Tennessee high schools and higher education institutions can now send electronic transcripts to each other | National Student Clearinghouse

·         TCAT hosts ‘Train the Trainer’ event | Citizen Tribune (Morristown)

National News and Reports

·         2+2+2 articulation programs offer new model for higher ed access | Education Dive

·         Colleges laud benefits of K-12 partnerships | Community College Daily

·         More public colleges start tuition-free programs | U.S. News & World Report

·         Report on adult-serving colleges and alternative credentials | Inside Higher Ed

·         Tuition assistance programs for foster youth pursuing postsecondary education (Report) | Education Commission of the States

·         What colleges should know about students’ borrowing patterns | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         When using data to predict outcomes, consider the ethical dilemmas, new report urges | The Hechinger Report

clockFriday, March 03, 2017
Weekly Update 3 March, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Lipscomb University Announces Lipscomb Promise

On Thursday, Mike Krause, Scott Sloan, and Kate Derrick attended the announcement of the Lipscomb Promise program, which will provide a seamless transfer pathway for Tennessee Promise completers. At the event, Mike gave remarks, along with TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings and Lipscomb President Randy Lowry, on the importance of such transfer partnerships. Through Lipscomb Promise, the university will offer all students who have successfully completed Tennessee Promise at a community college the opportunity to receive a minimum annual scholarship of $10,000, with additional scholarship funds possible. Students will also receive an expedited credit evaluation and Lipscomb will honor the Tennessee Transfer Pathways. Full information on the event and the scholarship is available here.

GEAR UP TN Site Coordinators Share Statewide Best Practices

On Tuesday, GEAR UP TN Site Coordinators from across Tennessee convened in Nashville for a best practices summit aimed at sharing the ideas and resources that have been successful in their schools. Presentations included topics such as effective college planning sessions, using the AVID program to bolster college readiness, a model from Character Education in high schools, and parent outreach. GEAR UP TN spans 15 counties across Tennessee and is administered by THEC’s College Access and Success division.

Tennessee Board of Regents Spring Advising Academy

On Wednesday, Troy Grant participated in a panel discussion during TBR’s Spring Advising Academy, part of a series of events held since 2011 focused on improving degree completion statewide. Participants were comprised of campus teams from two-year and four-year institutions and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.  The agenda spanned a variety of topics including improving time to degree, designing new structures to better support students who are balancing careers and families, aligning resources to drive college completion, engaging campus leadership, and building community support. As part of the panel, Troy shared information about the work being done by THEC’s College Access and Success division and how K-12 and higher education can work together to support students toward degree completion.

Early Postsecondary Opportunities Webinar with SCORE

In partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), Troy Grant shared information regarding early postsecondary opportunities via webinar to the State Collaborative on Reforming Education’s (SCORE) Tennessee Educator Fellows on Wednesday evening. SCORE’s Educator Fellowship brings together a diverse group of educators from across Tennessee to “learn about, reflect upon, and inform the policies, practices, and systems that affect student achievement and educator effectiveness.” During the webinar, educators learned about the range of early postsecondary opportunities, including dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and dual credit, available in the state of Tennessee as well as the impact participation in these opportunities has on student postsecondary enrollment and, ultimately, completion.  According to TDOE data, economically disadvantaged students who participate in an early postsecondary course are 17 percentage points more likely to enroll in postsecondary. Furthermore, research shows that students attaining six credits through dual enrollment are 12 percentage points more likely to complete.

Pathways Tennessee State Planning Team Meeting

In January, the TDOE was awarded nearly $2 million over the next three years as part of the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant supported by JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to continue the work of Pathways Tennessee.  The Pathways Tennessee program is designed to drive improvement and expansion education-to-career learning pathways for all students across TennesseeOn Tuesday, Victoria Harpool participated in the Pathways Tennessee State Planning Team meeting to update the mission of the program and set strategic priorities for the three years of new funding.

Continued Tuition and Finance Policy Discussions

The fiscal policy team concluded its discussions with the chief finance and budget officers of the Locally Governed Institutions (LGIs), speaking this week with Austin Peay State University. The staff discussed a host of topics, particularly around the FOCUS Act and THEC’s increased role in setting binding tuition and fee ranges. Staff also reviewed the Governor’s FY 2017-18 proposed budget and discussed upcoming actions by the Commission and the new local boards. The fiscal policy staff has now held these conversations with each LGI and leaders from UT and TBR.

Virtual Lecture to University of Buffalo

On Tuesday, Emily House presented a lecture via Skype to Masters of Higher Education Administration students at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Emily discussed the genesis of the Tennessee Promise program and the latest data available to determine its early successes, and the policy process that resulted in the recent Tennessee Reconnect community college scholarship proposal. Emily also presented on free college initiatives in various stages of proposal/implementation throughout the nation, paying special attention to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s free college proposal, which is substantially different from the Tennessee Promise.  

This week in the General Assembly:

·         The Tennessee Reconnect Act received a positive recommendation from the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee on Tuesday, sending House Bill 531 to the full committee on March 7.  The Senate Education Committee will consider its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, on March 8.  Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free.  With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55 initiative, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to enter or reenter public higher education with no tuition expenses.

·         The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), also passed the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee this week.  House Bill 530 is scheduled for the House Education Administration and Planning Committee on Tuesday of next week.  This legislation replaces the Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act and establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard with funding toward a bachelor degree through tuition reimbursement.  The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and further supports the Drive to 55.  Senate Bill 1216 is scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

·         Senate Bill 1232, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and will be presented to the full Senate on Monday.  Another key initiative aimed at supporting adults in higher education, this legislation updates the Veterans Education Transition Support (“VETS”) Act by directing THEC to develop a publicly-available online database of military training course equivalencies and a web-based tool which will allow veterans and service members to determine the amount of college credit they will receive for their military experience before enrolling at a particular institution.  Fiscal impact from the bill is non-significant due in part to Tennessee Tech’s willingness to offer free technical support in creating the database.

A significant amendment to the bill grants in-state tuition to anyone using veteran educational benefits as long as they are currently living in the state, regardless of their official “home of record” or formal state of residence.  This change brings Tennessee into compliance with recent federal changes to veteran educational benefit criteria and further reduces barriers to educational attainment for vets and their families.  The companion bill, HB 433, sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), passed the House Education Instruction & Programs Subcommittee this week and is scheduled for consideration by the full committee on March 7.

·         Senate Bill 1231, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on March 1.  This legislation amends the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) Act by defining the term “work-based learning” (WBL) as it is used in LEAP programs.  The precise definition of WBL this bill proposes will clarify expectations for educators, employers, and students involved in LEAP internships and other forms of experiential learning placements.  The bill also includes a provision limiting the civil liability of employers participating in LEAP WBL.  SB 1231 has been placed on the Senate’s Consent Calendar for Monday.  Its companion, HB 445, sponsored by Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), is scheduled for the House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee on Wednesday.

·         House Bill 396, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), was recommended for passage by the Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee on Wednesday and has been placed on the calendar for the Chairman’s full committee on March 7.  This bill addresses a recently discovered compliance issue regarding Tennessee’s participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”) related to the handling of complaints by out-of-state students against Tennessee institutions.  It requires THEC to be the final arbiter of these complaints when they involve online or distance education and are related to requirements imposed on a school solely by SARA.  This change also updates the language to properly include the six locally governed universities under the FOCUS Act.  The companion bill, SB 732, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for scheduling.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Dyersburg County High School hosts ECMC/Advise TN College Planning Night* | State Gazette (features Advise TN and Path to College events)

·         First class of Tennessee Promise students set to graduate | WSMV/Nashville NBC affiliate (includes interview with Mike Krause)

·         TCAT-Nissan partnership brings STEM skills to Smyrna | Daily News Journal

·         University of Memphis begins transition to its own board | The Commercial Appeal

·         UT president asks trustees for 4-year contract limit once he’s faculty | Knoxville News Sentinel

National News and Reports

·         10 tips on embedding industry and professional certifications in education programs | The EvoLLLution

·         Closing the gap | Inside Higher Ed

·         Goodbye college advising, hello college coaching | EdSurge News

·         Governors’ top education priorities: 2017 State of the State addresses | Education Commission of the States

·         National Veteran Education Success Tracker (Report) | Student Veterans of America

·         Recent college grads now more likely to have good jobs, opportunity | Chicago Tribune

·         Replicating the Tennessee Promise | Inside Higher Ed (features Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Tennessee finds remedial education reform success | Diverse Issues in Higher Education (features the SAILS program)

clockMonday, February 27, 2017
Weekly Update 24 February, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

THEC Visits to TCAT Nashville and TSU

Today, members of THEC’s leadership team were joined by three Commission members on campus visits to TCAT Nashville and Tennessee State University (TSU). Pam Koban, Bill Lee, and Frank Watson joined THEC staff this morning at TCAT Nashville to meet with students and learn more about the work happening at the school. TCAT Nashville Director Mark Lenz led the group on a tour of the campus, including classroom visits; the group also met with six students from various programs at the TCAT. The group then visited TSU where they met with members of the President’s Cabinet and three students from the university. The engaging conversation with the leadership was followed by a campus tour, led by the students. Similar visits are planned for the summer and fall for East and West Tennessee.

Tennessee Transfer Summit

On Wednesday, David Wright and Jessica Gibson were featured speakers at the first annual Tennessee Transfer Summit in Murfreesboro. THEC partnered with the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents and provided financial support for the convening. Speaking to an assembly of about 150 academic and career advisors, admissions and records professionals, and adult learner specialists, David gave an overview of Tennessee’s transfer student population, the prevalence and multiple directions of transfer activity, conditions for successful transfer, and recommendations for colleges and universities to improve their service to this important student population. Jessica provided a big picture view of the Drive to 55 and Tennessee Reconnect and the connection between strong, well-defined pathways and our state's postsecondary attainment success.

MTSU Africana Studies BA/BS Site Visit

On Monday, Betty Dandridge Johnson and Pam Knox participated in a site visit at Middle Tennessee State University for the proposed Africana Studies BA/BS program. The proposed program uses an interdisciplinary approach with a focus on the history and culture of African people.  As a liberal arts program, the proposed Africana Studies program will provide graduates with this specific knowledge along with writing, oral communication, and critical thinking skills that are essential for a wide range of career opportunities.

The proposed program was evaluated by Dr. Glenn Chambers, Associate Professor and Director of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University.  Dr. Chambers will provide a report based on the proposal and make a determination of program approval.  Contingent upon Dr. Chambers’ recommendation, the program may be considered for approval by TBR and THEC.

Continued Tuition and Finance Policy Discussions

The fiscal policy team continued its discussions with the chief finance and budget officers of the Locally Governed Institutions (LGIs), speaking this week with Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University. The staff discussed a host of topics, particularly around the FOCUS Act and THEC’s increased role in setting binding tuition and fee ranges. Staff also reviewed the Governor’s FY 2017-18 proposed budget and discussed upcoming actions by the Commission and the new local boards. The finance policy team has a final conference call scheduled with Austin Peay State University next week.

Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education: Drive to 55 Presentation

On Thursday, Mike Krause spoke to the Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (TACTE) regarding the Drive to 55.  Mike presented information on the growth of FASFA completion and college-going rates since the implementation of Tennessee Promise. He also outlined Governor Haslam’s proposed Tennessee Reconnect Act.  Mike stressed the importance of the K-12 teachers that TACTE members train as part of their educator preparation

THEC Staff Visit UT System Administration

On Thursday, Russ Deaton, Crystal Collins, Steven Gentile, and Taylor Odle visited the University of Tennessee (UT) system offices, meeting with President Joe DiPietro and members of his executive leadership team in Knoxville, to discuss many finance topics, including tuition and capital outlay prioritization. The staffs also discussed campus strategic initiatives, the funding of the UT system’s non-formula units, and implications of statewide postsecondary education policies, like Tennessee Reconnect and Promise. THEC staff will meet with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ staff to discuss similar topics in the coming weeks.

Meeting with the Office of the State Architect

On Wednesday, members of the fiscal policy staff met with Ann McGauran, Tennessee’s new State Architect, Chloe Shafer, Director of Compliance for the Office of the State Architect (OSA), and Courtney Hess, the Assistant General Counsel for the Treasury. The staff discussed OSA’s and the Commission’s role in approving, training, and working with the Locally Governed Institutions as they assume duties associated with capital project management previously performed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Additionally, staff discussed revisions to THEC’s capital policies that will be brought to the Commission for review and approval at the May quarterly meeting.

Presentation at Nashville Public Library

On Thursday, Emily House presented at the Adult Education Summit at the Nashville Public Library. This daylong event included community members who work with adults to improve literacy, to prepare those adults who did not finish high school to earn a GED, to encourage adults to (re)enroll in higher education, and to facilitate (re)entry into the workforce. Emily presented on effective ways to use data to tell a story and advocate for adults. She highlighted the many success of Tennessee Reconnect initiatives, and directed these practitioners to many of the resources available for adults, emphasizing adults’ importance in reaching the Drive to 55 goal.

SREB Panel on High School Graduation Projections

On Thursday, David Wright served as a panelist for a webinar, co-sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), entitled, Knocking at the College Door 2017: Data & Implications for the Southern Region. WICHE’s Knocking at the College Door report series periodically updates projections of the numbers of public and private high school graduates anticipated nationally, by region, and for individual states. The Tennessee state profile, available for download at http://knocking.wiche.edu/state-profiles, shows that, by the year 2030: 1) Tennessee’s total number of high school graduates is not expected to increase appreciably; 2) the share of the total represented by non-White students will increase by six percentage points; and 3) the number of graduates from private high schools is projected to decrease by as much as one-third. David’s comments centered on the Tennessee postsecondary education community’s policy response to these realities.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Backlash prompts update to graduation requirements report | The Tennessean

·         Education leaders to discuss growing transfer student population | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         MTSU taps into fermentation science | Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro)

·         New UT ag chancellor eyes ‘renaissance in agriculture’ | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         South College expanding to Nashville | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         UT president talks strengths, encourages diversity | The Tennessean

·         Vol State expands vet tech program | The Tennessean

National News and Reports

·         Aligning curricula with manufacturers’ needs | Inside Higher Ed

·         Colleges remake remedial education by going back to high school | Ed Surge (features the SAILS program)

·         Computer-Mediated Developmental Math Courses in Tennessee High Schools and Community Colleges: An Exploration of the Consequence of Institutional Context (Report) | Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University (features the SAILS program)

·         Don’t blame state disinvestment alone | Inside Higher Ed

·         Here’s why vocational training is in high demand | Marketplace

·         Money woes extend beyond tuition | Inside Higher Ed

·         Making Ends Meet – The Role of Community Colleges in Student Financial Health (Report) | Center for Community College Student Engagement

·         Smart list: 26 higher education innovators | Getting Smart

·         Transfer trailblazers in higher ed | University Business