75 percent of Tennessee community college students do not complete a degree .
50 percent of public university students and a third of University of Tennessee students do not graduate within six years .
Over 50 percent of Tennessee ’ s postsecondary students require remediation .
Source : Complete Tennessee , 2016 . Room to Grow : The State of Higher Education in Tennessee .
Improving readiness of all high school graduates will enable growing numbers to make the most of programs like Tennessee Promise , opening doors to a wide range of postsecondary opportunities . Students are already responding , with public college and university enrollment in Tennessee increasing by 10 percent between fall 2014 and fall 2015 . 12 Students are eager to pursue education beyond high school , and they need the skills and knowledge postsecondary success requires .
Although more students have access to postsecondary options , many students are still not graduating high school prepared for their future . The ACT college entrance exam serves as one important indicator of college and career readiness . Tennessee requires all high school juniors to take the exam , and results are now part of the state ’ s accountability framework for districts . Results from the ACT indicate whether a test-taker is ready to succeed in collegelevel courses across four subject areas : reading , English , mathematics , and science .
On a 36-point scale , Tennessee ’ 2016 public high school graduates scored an average of 19.4 , trailing the national average of 20.8 — an average that includes students attending both public and private schools . Only 17 percent of public school test-takers in Tennessee — compared to a national average of 26 percent — scored at or above college-ready benchmarks in all four ACT subject areas in 2016 . Sixty-three percent of the state ’ s first-year college students in 2016 needed remedial or developmental coursework . Initiatives to reduce the need for these non-credit-bearing courses include the Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support ( SAILS ) program developed at Chattanooga State Community College in 2012 .
Since its first year of implementation between one high school and one community college , SAILS has expanded to over 250 high schools across the state and will have reached over 50,000 students by the end of 2016-17 school year . SAILS initially focused on catching students up to postsecondary learning expectations in math . In 2015-16 , however , SAILS expanded to include English remediation . The evidence of success is encouraging . Since 2012 , the number of students entering community college in need of math remediation has decreased by 15.6 percent . 13 Innovations like SAILS are helping more students succeed in postsecondary coursework and attain desired credentials .