Tennessee Department of Education Invites School Districts to Apply for ‘Innovative School Models’ Grants

School districts in Tennessee can now apply for Innovative School Model Grants that focus on job training for students.

“Through reimagining the middle or high school experience, students will have a variety of opportunities to gain real-world experience, explore various industries and available jobs, and choose a pathway best suited to their skillset,” said Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I thank Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly who passed this historic opportunity, all districts interested in applying for this funding, and those who helped us celebrate throughout the month.”

The state plans to give out $500 million in grants to schools that apply and are accepted into the program, which was piloted last year.

“In May 2021, the department awarded 21 school district Innovative High School Model grants, which included an initial investment of $30 million to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness,” according to a TDOE release. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities.

Innovative School Models are meant to prepare Tennessee’s students to join the workforce in a job that is suitable for their skillset. There is a heavy focus on “reimagining the high school experience,” as mentioned by Schwinn.

“The future of innovative programs to boost student and workforce readiness in Tennessee is brighter than ever,” TDOE says. “Through reimagining the high school experience; becoming more strategic about engaging younger students in career exploration; expanding access to courses; improving how data is collected and used; and being even more intentional in how we listen to—and learn from—Tennesseans, we will continue to keep our state’s workforce strong for years to come.”

In addition, the Tennessee General Assembly unanimously passed a law requiring school districts to implement new computer science course guidelines.

“The new computer science requirements include providing professional development for teachers to successfully implement computer science instruction, all elementary schools must provide each student with a grade-appropriate computer, all middle schools must provide students access to computer science instruction for a minimum of at least one grading period of one school year, and all high schools must provide all students who pursue a traditional diploma with at least one course credit of computer science education,” TDOE says.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Autoshop Class” by the US Department of Education. CC BY 2.0.


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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Department of Education Invites School Districts to Apply for ‘Innovative School Models’ Grants”

  1. Nancy

    Ask your legislators to make Tennessee colleges and universities operate like a business. They should be required to posts a score card of each type of degree earned, job placement, annual compensation and a survey from each student that graduated in the field reviews after the first 5 years of working. This type system would make our colleges more accountable and will present information the students need to know for real life expectations upon entering the work force after graduation. The legislature should look at stopping funding these type of degrees that don’t produce a graduate that works in the degree field upon graduation! Given parents and students real information makes our children stronger and much better decision making! Tennessee will be a destination place for parents and students when you have children making great education choices that allow them to have a higher wage and better standard of living!

    1. 83ragtop50

      Nancy – Your recommendations make way too much sense. The cowards that are in the legislature are afraid to hold any public institution accountable.

      It would be a good start to see how many of the “Promise” community college recipients get a diploma within a 3 year window. I would hazard a guess that it is well below 50%. Therefore, a big waste of many that provides that group an excuse for not growing up for another 2-3 years – if ever!

  2. Trevor

    I 100% support creative ways to teach and produce a highly skilled individual that is ready to start a business or go to work and make a livable wage. Skills is what you through life! Why make a high school that is focused on business skills, technical skills and social and history knowledge!

  3. 83ragtop50

    I am all for technical training through public education venues – especially at the county college level – but I am sick and tired of grants, grants, grants.