To expand programs like WBL , Tennessee has provided incentives for collaborative student readiness efforts . The Tennessee Labor and Education Alignment Program ( LEAP ) is a competitive grant program empowering regional stakeholders to engage in partnerships to align educational training and postsecondary credentials with the needs of industry partners . Grant recipients work with community partners to enhance early postsecondary and career opportunities and expand work-based learning opportunities . In LEAP ’ s first year , Tennesseans from 51 counties participated in over 15,000 training and workforce development opportunities created by the LEAP grants . Other results from the grants included :
• 13,363 middle school , high school , and college students have participated in LEAP-funded extracurricular programming , including career readiness initiatives , work-based learning experiences , academic clubs , and career exploration programs
• 1,591 high school students have enrolled in courses that have been initiated or expanded by LEAP programs as of December 2015 .
• 630 students have enrolled in community college and TCAT programs supported by LEAP-funded equipment and instructors .
The LEAP program helps advance Tennessee students ’ postsecondary and career readiness . It also builds on and expands the work of Pathways Tennessee .
RURAL SCHOOLS . Large numbers of students in rural areas of Tennessee face significant challenges to accessing opportunities that benefit their peers in urban areas . Seizing innovation to deliver expanded opportunity in rural areas is crucial to rural communities ’ success . In 2016 , Governor Haslam assembled the Rural Task Force , a team of cross-agency stakeholders , to consider how to advance rural economies . As part of this task force , local elected officials and leaders across sectors ranging from education to industry and law enforcement developed innovative ideas for improving rural businesses , schools , and communities . The task force recommended a rural teacher initiative be developed to recruit , support , and retain teachers in the poorest rural counties in the state . Members also called for a rural education network to encourage improved professional learning practices , effectively closing geographic distances between teachers . Consideration of and action on task force recommendations will continue through 2017 , including during the legislative session .
The work over the past year has led to continued progress for Tennessee students . To reach the ambitious goals that guide efforts to improve student achievement statewide , Tennessee must continue to support educators , ensure all students are held to high expectations , and maintain commitment to the policies that have led to our success while seizing opportunities to advance innovation .