“Tennessee Promise” Falls Short on Student Success

Even as Tennessee is being praised for opening college doors through Tennessee Promise and other programs, there are signs that some of higher education’s biggest and most persistent hurdles still keep many students from succeeding, according to Jason Gonzales, in USA Today, as published in The Tennessean.

Enrollment and retention have ticked up at the state’s community colleges, according to a report released recently by the education advocacy group Complete Tennessee. But dropout rates remain alarmingly high, especially for poor and minority students.

“While we have seen some improvements in postsecondary attainment, our most vulnerable citizens are still struggling to earn the credentials necessary to compete for in-demand, local jobs,” said Kenyatta Lovett, Complete Tennessee executive director, reports the article.

Among the findings in the “Beneath the Surface: State of Higher Education in Tennessee” report:

  • Community college enrollment has grown by 2 percent from 2016-2017, but enrollment trends across other institutions are relatively flat.
  • Despite efforts to increase adult participation in higher education, adult enrollment has dropped 25 percent since 2011.
  • Student retention rates have increased, but black students are more likely to drop out than their peers.
  • Despite Tennessee’s historically low unemployment rates, black residents experience higher levels of unemployment despite many earning similar degrees or credentials.

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