NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Tennessee, only 50% of high school graduates will enroll in college, according to the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), creating what they report as “gaps” in employment.

On Thursday morning, SCORE revealed their 2023 education priorities to address the connection between learning and work.

“To be successful in careers and to contribute to Tennessee’s economic boom, students need to have the tools, resources, and knowledge to succeed on the job, yet not enough of our policies and investments have focused on this connection between education and work,” said Senator Bill Frist, founder and chairman of SCORE.

Frist said the new year will bring a new focus on reimagining and strengthening the path from school to career.

To do this, SCORE is focusing on three priorities and expanded upon them in a statement:

• Advance High-Quality Instruction For Every Student.  “To advance high-quality instruction for every student, Tennessee must prioritize research-supported policies and practices such as high-dosage tutoring, a scholarship to bolster the teacher pipeline, and support for high-quality public charter schools. With these and additional supports in place, Tennessee will have the potential to close longstanding opportunity gaps between student groups, particularly as the state continues to recover from the educational impacts of the pandemic.”
• Address Tennessee’s College-Going Decline With Urgency.  “Tennessee experienced a concerning decline in the number of high school students immediately enrolling in college in the last two years at a time when most jobs require some level of training after high school. To actively work against this decline, Tennessee must advance as many proven strategies as possible — such as building momentum for going to college in high school, making financial aid opportunities more accessible to students, and bridging the gap between K-12 and higher education through summer programs that are proven to prepare students for successfully transitioning from high school to college.”
• Prepare All Tennessee Students For Work.  “Our state is experiencing a period of significant economic growth, with hundreds of thousands of new job openings daily. But in the face of this growth and continued changes to the economy, not all Tennessee students are prepared with the postsecondary training required to enter and thrive in careers. To address this talent gap, state policymakers must use education and workforce data to drive decision-making and set bold education-to-workforce goals that focus on increasing postsecondary attainment and labor-force participation in high-wage, high-demand fields.”

“It is time for schools, colleges, and industry to work together comprehensively so that every Tennessee student is ready for a career that enables economic independence,” said David Mansouri, President and CEO of SCORE.

SCORE is calling on local policy makers to help implement these priorities and improve access to continuing education.