Bill Spotlight: Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010
On January 26, 2010, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed the "Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010" into law. This legislation, which seeks to improve the public higher education system in Tennessee, garnered bipartisan support. The Complete College Tennessee Act focuses on long-term solutions for problems such as college completion, accountability, transfer and articulation, and job placement.
Creates a statewide master plan for the future of the public higher education system
Improves community colleges statewide
- Requires the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to develop a statewide master plan for public higher education. The master plan will consider input from higher education stakeholders and will address how to improve economic and workforce development, how to increase degree production, and how to promote institutional collaboration and efficiency through mission differentiation. The commission must present recommendations for implementing the master plan to the General Assembly.
- Mandates that as part of developing the master plan, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission must create an outcomes-based funding formula that rewards institutions for meeting goals set forth by the master plan, such as increased student retention and degree production.
- Builds the Tennessee Community College system, unifying the current 13 independent colleges into one system to improve student services, academic support and institutional support, and to realize savings through system efficiencies.
- Creates a common course numbering system within the community college system.
- Commits community colleges to offering structured degree programs that use block scheduling and cohort learning to move student faster and more successfully through programs. This initiative is modeled after certificate programs at Tennessee Technology Centers, which have high completion rates.
Makes college transitions and transfers easier
- Establishes a university tract program of 60 credit hours that can be easily transferred from a community college to any state public university.
- Guarantees junior status to students who complete an associate of arts or associate of science degree at a Tennessee community college when they transfer to a state public university.
- Allows students to dual-enroll in both a two-year and a four-year college or university.
- Designates that remedial or developmental courses only be offered by two-year community colleges.
Focuses on research and collaboration
- Seeks to increase the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics doctoral students.
- Promotes collaborative research and entrepreneurial opportunities.
- Authorizes and provides funding for the University of Tennessee to establish a new academic unit for research in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the University of Tennessee will shift funds from existing programs and activities to fund the development and implementation of the statewide master plan for higher education, unification of the community college system, common course numbering system, articulation agreements between two-year and four-year public institutions, and remedial education programs. No state appropriations were made for these initiatives. The new collaborative University of Tennessee research unit requires a three-year appropriation totaling $6.2 million.