Roane County leaders are coming together to support a bold new goal: 70 percent of high school seniors pursuing a meaningful post-secondary pathway by 2025. Currently, Roane County’s college-going rate is at a 10-year low, with 52 percent of public high school graduates attending college immediately after high school. Meaningful post-secondary pathways include enrollment at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), community college or university or participation in a high-quality apprenticeship!
Roane County Executive Wade Creswell said, “Roane County has historically been a state leader in the number of high school seniors pursuing college after high school. With incredible opportunities presented by local post-secondary institutions and employment opportunities, this college-going rate goal aligns local leaders behind the idea that a positive post-secondary pathway exists for every Roane County student. As local career pathways become increasingly dependent on post-secondary education and training, it is critical that our students become equipped to support our local economy. This is also important to students and employers because Roane County is redefining “college” to include pathways through apprenticeships along with technical college, community college, and university opportunities. I encourage all Roane County students to explore the wide range of exceptional post-secondary opportunities our county and region offer.”
Leaders from every sector including government, business, industry, non-profit and education are supporting this new initiative. While organizers are taking a student-focused approach, they say the impact is critical to Roane County’s future. Right now, experts believe about 70 percent of jobs in 2030 will require some postsecondary education. In light of that projection, local leaders and organizations supporting 70% by 2025 believe:
1. College matters.
2. All students deserve the opportunity to earn a high-quality credential and training after high school.
3. Meaningful post-secondary pathways represent a big tent, meaning four-year, community and technical colleges and high-quality apprenticeships.
tnAchieves President and CEO Krissy DeAlejandro is committed to supporting Roane County leaders as they work to reverse declining college-enrollment rates. “At tnAchieves, we always lead with the student-first approach of meeting every Roane County student where they are at scale,” said DeAlejandro. “While students are always at the forefront of our work, we also know it takes a village to support our local students. We are beyond excited and blown away by the support from every corner of the community.”
Roane County Schools Superintendent Russell Jenkins believes this new goal will provide Roane County graduates with more opportunities leading to economic independence. “Roane County Schools strives to prepare students to become contributing members of our community. Providing access to a meaningful post-secondary pathway is critical to this mission. Research indicates students who attend post-secondary and obtain a credential are more civically engaged, live healthier lives and are more economically stable. We support the goal of 70 percent of our high school graduates pursuing a post-secondary pathway by 2025.”
The 70×2025 goal in Roane County follows a similar effort in Knox County. Last year, Knox County leaders and businesses joined together to announce a goal of a 70% college-going rate in Knox County by 2024. The initiative was announced after Knox County’s college-going rate dropped to 59% in 2021.