Gov. Bill Haslam has earned a reputation as the education governor for his innovation around and commitment to educational attainment in Tennessee. He started the Drive to 55, a comprehensive effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by 2025, which will assist the state in meeting its future workforce demands. Haslam created Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, scholarship programs that offer two years of postsecondary education free of tuition and fees to high school graduates and adults, respectively, who have not yet obtained a degree. Tennessee became the first state in the nation to implement this practice, and 18 other states have since created similar programs. From 2011 to 2016, Tennessee was one of the fastest improving states in the nation in K-12 student performance and remains a leader in student progress. In 2016-17, Tennessee’s high school graduation rate rose to 89 percent — the highest on record for the state. Additionally, entering college freshmen remediation rates have dropped by more than 12 percentage points since 2011.

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