SCORE Leadership Institute Empowers Educators to Increase College Success

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The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) recently announced the education leaders from across the state who will be participating in their eighth Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute (CTLI). The leadership program has been designed to provide a deep dive into the most current data regarding student success and best practices while providing a platform to develop relationships that will drive successful learning. The goal of CTLI is to ensure more students are earning degrees and credentials that prepare them for careers.

“To ensure our state’s economy is dynamic and resilient, we need to ensure Tennessee students are obtaining degrees and credentials that lead to economic independence,” said SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri. “That work requires more Tennessee leaders to be empowered with the data, tools, relationships, and best practices to drive improved postsecondary outcomes in their own communities. We’re thrilled to support this group of leaders in driving that change for our state.”

This year, 26 leaders from higher education, K-12, business, and nonprofit sectors have been selected for the one-year program that will allow them to understand key higher education and workforce data and develop regional advocacy strategies.

East Tennessee Region

  • Dr. David Cihak, Associate Dean of Professional Educator Programs and Director of the Bailey Graduate School of Education, University of Tennessee
  • Dr. Trae T. Cotton, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Chattanooga State University
  • Kristin Labs, Gateway Scholars Program Manager, Public Education Foundation
  • Nathan Langlois, Director of Schools, KCS Region 2, Knox County Schools
  • Law Loving, Director, Career and Workforce Readiness, Niswonger Foundation

Middle Tennessee Region

  • Dr. Prentice Ashford, Dean of Student Engagement, Lipscomb University
  • Dr. LaMetrius Daniels, Associate Vice-President and Dean of The Graduate School, Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Derrick Dupuis, Director of Institutional Research, Nashville State Community College
  • Tyler Ford, Senior Director of Mentors, tnAchieves
  • Dr. Diarese George, Executive Director, Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance
  • Dr. Marlon Pierre Heaston, Executive Principal, Moses McKissack Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Ashley Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Communications and Government Affairs, QuaverEd
  • Dr. Brelinda Johnson, Executive Vice President of Student Success, Motlow State Community College
  • Jenny Mills McFerron, Vice President, Education and Talent Development, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dr. Anne-Marie McKee, Assistant Vice President for Student Support, Volunteer State Community College
  • Dr. Donald Snead, Professor of Education, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Patrick Wade, President, Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Murfreesboro

West Tennessee Region

  • Brittany Avent, Director of CTE and PLC Support, Haywood County Schools
  • Dr. Constance Certion, Manager of High School Counseling Services, Memphis-Shelby County Schools
  • Dr. LaToshia S. Chism, Professor of Education, Lane College
  • Matt Lexow, Associate Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Leigh Mansberg, President, Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South
  • Jamie Mantooth, Executive Director of Enrollment Services and Student Engagement, University of Tennessee at Martin
  • Heath McMillian, President, Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Jackson
  • Cortney Richardson, Chief Executive Officer, Peer Power Foundation
  • Dr. Carol A. Rothstein, President, Jackson State Community College

Key factors covered in the program include post-secondary completion and attainment, equity and access to higher education, and supporting post-secondary student success.

Tennessee’s Drive to 55 goal has served as the state’s north star for higher education attainment efforts since its adoption in 2013, according to SCORE’s report on Post-Secondary Achievement and Attainment. The goal is for 55 percent of 25- to 65-year-olds to hold a postsecondary credential by 2025. Attainment is moving in a positive direction, but to reach its goal, Tennessee needs to increase completion rates significantly. Currently, rates are well below the national average, with Black students having the lowest graduation rates.

White and Asian 18- to 24-year olds enroll in higher education at higher rates than other student demographic groups. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native students enroll at lower rates – reflecting systemic barriers to postsecondary access, according to the SCORE’s Equity Access to Higher Education report. Asian students have the highest enrollment in higher education in Tennessee and in the United States, near double any other race. Mixed race students have the second highest enrollment, followed by Whites students in the state of Tennessee. Nationally, White students have the second highest enrollment in post-secondary education, followed by mixed-race and then Black students. Hispanic students have the lowest enrollment rate.

The report notes, “It is important to acknowledge total undergraduate enrollment is an aggregate measure inclusive of learners coming straight from high school, adults, part-time students, and full-time students – all groups with different needs and experiences with higher education. Enrollment trends may be different when looking at these groups separately.”

Access is just a first step, according to SCORE’s Supporting Secondary Student Success report. On average, only 68 percent of Tennessee first-time, full-time first-year students are still enrolled after one year and only 48 percent graduate within six years. Students not only face a variety of barriers to get in the door of higher education, but also many do not receive the support they need once there.

Tennessee retention rates are consistently below the national average. Black students persist at a significantly lower rate than White and Hispanic students, and male students persist at a significantly lower rate than female students. This trend is most pronounced for Black males.

Support from many different fronts are needed, as each individual has their unique situation. Types of support vary, from help with academic readiness to financial support to dealing with food insecurity to housing needs. “A study by the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab found that participation in a Chicago-based nonprofit’s holistic support program significantly increased first-year retention, ultimately resulting in an 18 percent increase in three-year degree attainment,” according to the SCORE report.

This is only part of the data that CTLI participants will study. In collaboration with The Hunt Institute, participants will gain insights from a broader national perspective, strengthening their ability to employ what they have learned in their communities.

“As we begin year four of our partnership with SCORE, we are thrilled to welcome this new CTLI cohort of accomplished leaders from across Tennessee as we continue the invaluable work of previous cohorts to address the most pressing issues in higher education,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, president and CEO of The Hunt Institute. “Our alliance with SCORE underscores our shared vision and commitment. As we collectively work to equip more students with degrees and credentials of value, this cross-state collaboration will continue to create brighter futures in postsecondary education.”

The Hunt Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success.

SCORE works to ensure public education in Tennessee continues to deliver academic progress for students from kindergarten through career. SCORE informs and influences state policy, monitors progress to measure impact and identify challenges, and prioritizes Tennessee’s education agenda.

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