The Tennessee Department of Education received almost $1 million in grant money from the Institute of Education Sciences to study the impact of Tennessee Pathways programs in schools, the department announced Monday.

Over the next three years, the Department of Education, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Massachusetts and the Education Strategy Group will evaluate the initiative, which aims to align K-12 education with postsecondary institutions and employers to create clear, reliable paths from high school into a career.

“Career pathways could be part of a solid bridge between schools and jobs, but it is hard to know that without studying how they work and what they mean to students and schools,” said Celeste Carruthers, associate professor of economics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

The $926,761 grant will support the evaluation of those pathways, which are composed of a career and technical education elective focus, work-based learning experiences, early postsecondary coursework, and opportunities to earn an industry credential or relevant credits at postsecondary partner institutions.

“Research takes time and resources, so I’m thrilled that IES is supporting this project,” Carruthers said. “We have a great team, and I’m optimistic that our findings will inform educators in Tennessee and around the country.”

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn added: “In public education, we have a responsibility to make learning both engaging and exciting for every student while they are in school, and meaningful to them long after they graduate. Tennessee Pathways is critical for the state and will build upon Tennessee’s history of collaboration between K-12, postsecondary and industry to create, strengthen and expand local partnerships that help students to be ready for success during and after high school.”

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