This was the first time MNPS has achieved level 5 status in the past 5 years and showcases strides being made by the district to recover from the learning loss presented by the pandemic.
MNPS’s work-based learning program is built on the strong foundation of the Academies of Nashville. Leveraging ESSER funds and the New Skills Ready grant investment, MNPS was able to pilot work-based learning during the 2021-2022 school year. Early success allowed the district to quickly expand the opportunity district-wide, filling over 120 positions in the first two years of implementation. This is an impressive start to work-based learning across the district, and the committee further commends the addition of a work-based learning coordinator positioned within the Support Hub.
MNPS is also seen as a model for their use of high-dosage tutoring to impact student outcomes. Since 2021, more than 3,000 students have participated in MNPS’s Accelerating Scholars program with the support of over 1,3000 tutors. One-on-one tutoring and small group support are provided by volunteers and qualified teaching staff to impact academic progress in reading and math, along with social-emotional learning outcomes.
Through a $7 million investment from JPMorgan Chase, the Network is focused on supporting the transition of underrepresented MNPS students into postsecondary education to enter high-wage, high-demand career pathways.
In addition to supporting the launch of work-based learning across the district, the Network initiated two pilot projects that align with the committee’s suggestions, Family Career Launch and Healthcare Futures. Family Career Launch educates students and families about work-based learning to build interest and awareness well in advance of the end of a student’s junior year. Healthcare Futures addresses gaps in skill development and preparation for opportunities in the healthcare field. In partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Pearl-Cohn and Maplewood students have participated in workshops focused on professionalism, interview skills, and one-on-one mentoring.
Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee’s BizTown combines in-classroom learning with a day-long experience where students in grades 4-6 have an opportunity to work in one of 14 businesses, exploring a range of jobs as they go through the application and interview process before learning about skills needed to be a great employee. Junior Achievement saw an increase from about 250 students a year to over 2,200 during the 2022-2023 school year and plans to double capacity next year.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee (BGCMT) launched Industry Clubs, a program that exposes teens to career possibilities they have not yet considered. BGCMT embraces the motto “you can’t be what you can’t see.” In partnership with local businesses, the experience includes job shadowing, on-site experiences, and a capstone project with a paid stipend upon successful completion.
Communities in Schools of Tennessee (CIS-TN) helps eliminate barriers that impede students’ ability to get to school and be ready to learn. Available data suggested that chronic absence doubled at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, with nearly one out of three public school children missing so much school they were academically at-risk. That same year, CIS-TN saw 62% of the schools they worked with improve their chronic absenteeism rate.
Conexión Américas’ Escalara program is a free after-school program that promotes economic mobility for immigrant and refugee youth by supporting educational attainment, college planning, and access to information about professional careers. Serving a broader student population with work-based learning opportunities, including students without documentation, requires the support, innovation and creativity provided by nonprofits like Conexión Américas.
United4Hope creates formal partnerships between congregations and MNPS schools. Congregational volunteers serve at a principal’s discretion through a community liaison. United4Hope has approximately 100 congregations serving 60 MNPS elementary, middle and high schools. Warner Arts Magnet Elementary has three churches supplying the Warner Exchange community pantry referenced earlier in the report.