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How Tennessee's education changes will impact adults

By Angela Yingling
Published On: Feb 05 2014 04:11:05 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 05 2014 08:25:12 PM CST

Changes are coming to Tennessee's education system for post-secondary education.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

Governor Bill Haslam is pushing a plan to get more high school students to go to college. The 'Drive to 55' initiatives could also get more adults college credits or certificates.

The goal of Governor Bill Haslam's Drive for 55 campaign is to have 55 percent of Tennesseans get either a college degree or certificate beyond high school, but his office says there aren’t enough high school students to hit 55 percent; instead, they’re counting on some adults going back to school.

Tim Crigger lost his job in 2011 and enrolled at Northeast State Community College. He's getting ready to graduate in May with a new set of skills, something Haslam is hoping more Tennesseans will do.

Haslam's office says about 940,000 adults in Tennessee have some type of college credit, but not a degree. During an interview on Tuesday, Haslam said he's hoping to change that so more non-traditional students can finish degrees. "We're looking at increasing our online capacity to make it easier for people to go back to school. We're also making it so those folks who want to go back to our technology colleges, they can now do that free of charge, regardless of their education history," adds Governor Haslam.

The idea is called Tennessee Reconnect; the goal is to re-engage adults in post secondary education.

That, along with the newly unveiled Tennessee Promise, aimed at getting more high school students onto college, has staff at Northeast State expecting an increase in students.

In fact, many of those students may be graduating from high school with college credits, thanks to dual enrollment. "There are a lot of opportunities in many different paths. Students can start in high school, working toward their courses. We're trying to promote at least one year of college credit before a student graduates high school," says Janice Gilliam, Northeast State Community College President.

Both the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect are set to begin in the fall of 2015, provided the legislation is approved.

According to the governor's office, students who attend a Tennessee College of Applied Technology have a job placement rate of 86 percent.