County leaders aim to have 70 percent of high school seniors enrolling in a university, community college or Tennessee College of Applied Technology by 2024. Officials from Knox County Schools, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Pellissippi State and government officials are working together on the initiative.
TnAchieves, a partner organization for the TN Promise scholarship program, said the college-going rate in Knox County peaked at 67.3% in 2015. Knox County’s college-going rate is at a 10-year low, with fewer than 60 percent of public high school graduates attending college immediately after high school.
TnAchieves, which aided then-Governor Bill Haslam in forming the Drive to 55 Initiative in 2013, hosted the event. The initiative established the goal of getting 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said Monday that it’s time for the goal to be raised.
“Originally, the hope was to get to 55 percent. I think we all recognize that we need 70 percent post high school experience,” Plowman said.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Jon Rysewyk said a big part of the new goal is informing students of the different options available to them after high school.
“They’re expanding the tent around what that post-secondary credential looks like,” Rysewyk said. “So, it’s not just graduate from UT, it could be an associate’s degree, it could be things like our local TCATs and certificates that are earned.”
“Research indicates students who attend post-secondary and obtain a credential are more civically engaged, live healthier lives and are more economically stable,” Rysewyk said.
In a press release sent out by Tennessee Achieves, they state that more than 75 organizations have also signed on to support this goal.
“Knox County is uniquely situated to set the pace for our state by ensuring at least 70 percent of high school graduates complete post-secondary education or seek trade certification. It is critical that our workforce is prepared for the high wage jobs and opportunities available in the global economy which requires an ever-increasing level of technological proficiency. Providing a path to multiple kinds of post-secondary education is important for students, but also important to Knox County’s economic future.”Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs