Place Ad
Contact Us

guest view: Interstate 40 in Knoxville to close next year
Preparation is the key to retention — not lowering standards

The dynamic combination of a bi-partisan commitment to fiscally responsible policies and the outstanding success of the Tennessee Lottery Corporation has provided our legislature with a unique opportunity to thoughtfully expand our current Tennessee Education Lottery Scholar-ship Program.

Increasing scholarship retention has been identified as a top priority and is a common goal of many citizens and legislators. Lack of preparation for academic success has been identified as the primary reason why students do not retain their lottery


We are additionally challenged to improve access to financially needy Tennesseans and non-traditional students in order to encourage more of our citizens to pursue postsecondary education and to complete meaningful degree programs.

We have important

decisions to make:

Do we take a short term approach to increasing retention by lowering standards? Or, do we deliberately pursue the underlying challenge of more adequately preparing Tennessee students for success after high school?

Do we spend $16 million to retain scholarships for 1,600 students whose GPAs fall between a 3.0 and a 2.75, (the vast majority of whom will not leave school as a result of losing their lottery scholarship)? Or, do we focus a significant portion of our resources on providing additional access to middle and lower income students who would likely be unable to pursue postsecondary education without financial assistance?

Do we limit the scholarship program to only 18-to-22-year-olds? Or, do we also support our non-traditional students who seek to increase their economic opportunities through post secondary academic success?

Reward rigor in high school — $1,000 increase for students who choose more rigorous high school coursework

While the TELS scholarship has provided many successes thus far, an unintended negative consequence of the 3.0 GPA eligibility requirement is that some students chose a less rigorous high school curriculum in order to qualify. This compounds the challenge we face in retention as students who chose less rigor are less prepared for academic success in college.

The Senate and House Education Committees, the State Board of Education and Governor Bredesen are currently working toward increasing standards and academic rigor in K-12 education. By financially rewarding students who chose a more rigorous curriculum through and an additional $1,000 award, we address this unintended consequence and encourage better preparation for success after high school.

Assistance for middle/lower income citizens

The Tennessee Student Assistance Award (“TSAA”) program serves students who are financially in need and 40 percent of whom are minority students. The program currently allocates $38 million to 18,700 students.

Unfortunately, 20,000 applicants who would be eligible are unfunded each year because the program exhausts its funds before all need has been met. Reserving $200 million of the lottery excess for these need based awards would generate $10 million annually. This strategic investment would fund another 5,000 needy students annually.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission recently completed a study examining students who are eligible for TSAA funding and received it versus those eligible and did not receive it. The study concluded that students receiving TSAA assistance were more likely to return the following year, illustrating that this funding does improve retention.

One size does not fit all — where do non-traditional

students fit?

Only 21.4 percent of Tennesseans have received baccalaureate degrees. The success of non-traditional students is vital to increasing our state’s educational attainment.

By rewarding these students who return or are new to our postsecondary system and are academically successful, we move Tennessee in the right direction and assist our citizens in achieving great opportunities for themselves and their


Today, we have a unique opportunity to increase retention through preparation, assist our middle and lower income citizens to prepare themselves for this global marketplace and increase our citizens’ educational attainment. Let’s not miss it.


News | Opinion | Sports | Business | Community | Schools | Obituaries | Announcements
Classifieds | Place Ad | Advertising | Contact Us | Archives | Search

© 2004-2017 farragutpress