January 11, 2017

Complete Tennessee Announces Statewide Listening Tour

Series of roundtables with regional stakeholders will explore local college completion challenges

NASHVILLE, TN – Complete Tennessee today announced a statewide listening tour to raise awareness of the state’s troubling trend of low higher education attainment and discuss regional challenges that may inhibit student success and postsecondary achievement.

The first in a series of nine regional roundtables will be held in Union City on January 18, 2017. Each roundtable event will bring together education experts, business leaders, community stakeholders and local officials to discuss local barriers to higher education and explore opportunities to better serve and support students interested in earning a postsecondary degree.

Complete Tennessee Executive Director Dr. Kenyatta Lovett said, “There’s no question Tennessee has a massive higher education completion challenge. Our average graduation rate is below 45 percent, and three out of every four community college students are not reaching their goal of earning a degree. In today’s world, nearly every quality job requires some form of postsecondary credential. Tennessee has much ground to cover to reach our goal for degree attainment, and it’s critical we bring the right stakeholders together to build a better pathway to college success and, in turn, a brighter future for our communities.”

The listening tour follows the November release of Complete Tennessee’s inaugural report entitled, “Room to Grow: The State of Higher Education in Tennessee”. The report, which is available here, revealed a number of startling statistics about postsecondary outcomes in Tennessee, including:

  • Three out of four community college students in Tennessee do not complete a degree. In fact, there is not a single community college in Tennessee that graduates more than 50 percent of its first-time freshmen students within a six-year period, while half of public university students and a third of University of Tennessee system students do not graduate within a six-year period
  • Despite an overall 16 percentage point decline in the number of postsecondary students requiring remediation over the past four years, more than half of Tennessee community college students still require remediation.
  • Even “college ready” students with ACT scores between 24 and 28 have less than a 50 percent graduation rate from Tennessee community colleges and just a 60 percent graduation rate from public universities.
  • Only one in twenty African American students enrolled in community college in Tennessee attains a degree within three years.

While the roundtable events will be invitation-only for participants, press will be welcome to observe and report on the discussion. Interested media should contact Kaci Murley at kaci@completetennessee.org to register their attendance and obtain additional event details.

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Complete Tennessee is a nonprofit 501(c)3 education advocacy organization focused on increasing postsecondary access and completion in Tennessee. Complete Tennessee’s mission will be advanced through four objectives: enhanced community engagement, improved research and accountability metrics, advanced leadership development, and heightened innovation through shared best practices. To learn more about Complete Tennessee, visit www.completetn.org