Advocacy & Policy

TSS Policy Review: Securing Economic Freedom

Tennesseans for Student Success TNSuccessCard Policy Priorities

Preceding the release of our TNSuccessCard this summer, we are highlighting our policy pillars and the corresponding bills that are associated with those priorities to help inform the grades each legislator has earned. Today, we are featuring economic freedom.

Securing Economic Freedom

As the global workforce continues to evolve, it is increasingly important to improve alignment among student instruction, industry needs, postsecondary options, and teacher preparation. Developing the necessary skills to become economically independent is a key measure of success for all Tennesseans.

We have advocated for higher, better academic standards which prepare students for success in a 21st-century economy but to fully honor our promise to provide today’s students with an opportunity for success in the future, we must ensure all Tennesseans are prepared for, can access, and complete a postsecondary credential or degree. Today, more than ever, Tennessee’s students have an opportunity to transition from high school to college seamlessly.

2020 BILLS


SB 1260/HB 736 – Led by Gresham/Lafferty. This bill authorizes school districts to provide career-based experience to high school students and establish partnerships with industry and local businesses to provide career-based experiences. Early exposure to workplace environments and on-the-job training can help Tennessee students gain the skills necessary to pursue the path of their choice. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 1580/HB 1834 – Led by Roberts/C. Johnson. This bill removes a barrier to the dual enrollment grant by eliminating the eligibility requirement that a high school student must be a Tennessee resident for at least one year. Dual enrollment courses expose students to rigorous classes that prepare them for college success, build their confidence, and speed their way to an affordable degree by allowing them to receive college credit while still in high school. TSS supports initiatives that increase postsecondary opportunities for all Tennesseans. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 1741/HB 1592 – Led by Hensley/Cepicky. This bill is a statewide pilot program modeled after Knox Promise. It will award completion grants to Tennessee Promise scholarship students in need of financial assistance. Completion of a certificate or degree is essential, and this model of coaching, mentoring, and grant assistance for our most at-risk students has the opportunity to change lives. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 1953/HB 1936 – Led by Haile/Dunn. This bill establishes a state-wide career aptitude test available to local school districts at no cost and encourages guidance counselors to use assessments to discuss career and education opportunities. TSS supports paving the way for students to understand their ample career opportunities and various educational pathways. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 2097/HB 2157 – Led by Gresham/Hicks. The Financial Aid Simplification (FAST) Act makes changes to Tennessee’s student financial aid system, simplifying the financial aid process. This bill strengthens pathways to a postsecondary credential, increase retention and completion, and ensure today’s students can attain the goals they set out to do. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 2344/HB 2105 – Led by Gresham/White. This bill updates current law clarifying the intent and mission of Tennessee’s state colleges of applied technology (TCATs) to provide occupational and technical education. These changes reflect models success as an excellent postsecondary option in today’s economy and allow better utilization of occupational and technical education. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 2350/HB 2404 – Led by Gresham/Ragan. This bill extends eligibility for the work-based learning student grant program to include students enrolled in a middle college program. Work-based learning opportunities open doors for students to prepare for postsecondary and their careers. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

SB 1973/HB 2472 – Led by Gresham/White. This bill allows the Executive Director of the Student Assistance Corporation to temporarily suspend, modify, or waive deadlines or other non-academic eligibility requirements for student financial aid programs if the Governor has declared the State of Emergency. TSS supports flexibility for students during a time of crisis to ensure all students have equal access to college and career training opportunities. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

2019 BILLS


SB 1260/HB 736 – Led by Gresham/Lafferty. This bill authorizes local education agencies (LEAs) to provide career-based experience to high school students and partner with industry and local businesses to provide career-based experiences. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill. 

SB 63/HB 866 – Led by Robinson/DeBerry. This bill expands Career and Technical Education (CTE) to grades six through twelve. Previously, CTE programs were made available for grades 9-12. Multiple studies have found that increased exposure to CTE results in higher graduation rates, college-going, and higher wages when students transition into a career. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.  

SB 805/HB 949 – Led by Johnson/Lamberth. This bill increases the total number of dual enrollment courses a high school student may take free of charge and creates regional partnerships for students to gain critical on-the-job experience. Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

To gain a better understanding of how this policy priority affects educators and students on a ground level, watch this video of Dan Caldwell, Senior Manager of Learning Pathways at Nissan, as he explains how economic opportunity impacts Tennessee students.

Find Out How Your Elected Officials Voted

The SuccessCard offers clear and concise information on how members of the Tennessee General Assembly voted to support the policies that have led to Tennessee twice becoming the fastest improving state in the nation.

Sign-up to be the first to get our release of the 2020 SuccessCard on July 20. 

Join TSS’ Education Policy Discussion Group

Join Tennesseans for Student Success in our education policy discussion group to help advise us on policies that influence Tennessee’s one million students.

Our Education Policy Discussion Group plans to meet a few times virtually before the January 2021 Legislative Session. Feel free to participate when it works best for your schedule. Requirements for the working group is that you have a passion for education reform, and believe in one or more of our policy areas found here.

Register for the Education Policy Discussion Group here.

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