2022 Nashville Chamber Education Report

Committee Recommendation:

Revisit Policies to Expand

Guiding Question:

As work-based learning continues to grow and scale, how do we ensure that it is available and supportive to all students?

Recommendation: #1

Revisit current work-based learning policies to expand work-based learning opportunities to all students interested.

Overview & Rationale:

Currently, students with low grades and those with disciplinary records cannot participate in work-based learning. In establishing the pilot, MNPS chose these criteria to ensure a smooth start and a positive employer experience, while remaining compliant with the state’s requirements. While school staff are willing to meet with and make exceptions for students who do not meet every requirement, the inclusion of such policies on MNPS’s website can serve as a deterrent. The committee recognizes that these policies may have been necessary to ensure success in a pilot year. However, with the district’s mantra of “every student known,” we believe that work-based learning opportunities should be offered to as many students as possible with an understanding that some students will require additional support.
Opportunities for innovation:

The committee encourages the district to work with employers to understand the minimum requirements and assurances needed for students to participate as a work-based learning employee for the organization. Some employers may be willing to accept students who do not meet all MNPS’s current eligibility requirements. If students meet the state requirements, they could be placed and supported accordingly. Further, MNPS and Metro government could provide work-based learning experiences for students who may require more support or flexibility than their peers. The committee is also interested in understanding what options exist at the state level to adjust Tennessee’s work-based learning requirements.

The committee recognizes that other factors play a role in students not qualifying for work-based learning, including chronic absenteeism and learning loss from the pandemic. These challenges cannot be solved by MNPS alone, and we encourage the district to continue to partner with the many youth development agencies and nonprofits engaged in this work. As MNPS continues to make feasible accommodations, we encourage the district to provide students with a clear point of contact if they are concerned that they will be ineligible or unable to maintain eligibility.

With an increase in the number of businesses offering hybrid or remote work, students have more opportunities to work from anywhere, helping address transportation challenges. At Johnson Alternative Learning Center, a pre-apprenticeship program for a population that is plagued by low attendance was established along with a focus on credit recovery. How might MNPS expand those opportunities?

Lastly, while WIOA funds cannot be used to support payment to undocumented populations, other districts have offered travel vouchers or scholarships to students without documentation. While such supports would require additional planning and fundraising, we believe all options must be considered if we hope to include every student who seeks a work-based learning experience.

Putting Words INto Action

With an innovative approach, the district will be more likely to overcome barriers such as transportation, documentation, and participation requirements for work-based learning. The committee also acknowledges the broader community’s role in driving solutions and providing needed supports to scale work-based learning. With a commitment from the whole community, we can ensure every student has an opportunity that will propel them to a brighter future and successful career path.

Recommendation #2:

Centralizing Key Functions

Recommendation #3:

Assessing & Addressing Student Needs

Recommendation #4:

Refined Value Proposition

The Education Report 2022 Commendations

Of course, our committee doesn’t work alone on this project. Without the help of our community and network, the 2022 Education Report would’ve never come together. If you’ve finished reading over our recommendations, please take a minute to appreciate our thanks for those who made this whole thing possible.