Skip to content
Subscribe Donate

Tennessee SySTEM Dual Enrollment Work-Based Courses

January 18, 2024

At a Glance

The Tennessee SySTEM grant supports the implementation of dual enrollment work-based courses, which combine dual enrollment credit and work-based learning through an employer partner, to better support the advancement of Black and Latine students, students experiencing poverty, and female students of all backgrounds in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and computer science.

Anna O'Connor Senior Director
Lee Domeika Director
Lauren Miller Senior Manager
Daniel Minty Manager
Ellen Bohle Senior Manager
Shannon Sihoe Senior Manager
Practices & Centers


The Tennessee SySTEM grant, developed in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and funded via an Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant through the U.S. Department of Education, supports Tennessee public high schools and their associated postsecondary and employer partners in designing dual enrollment work-based courses to better support the advancement of Black and Latine students, students experiencing poverty, and female students of all backgrounds in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and computer science.

Dual enrollment work-based courses are taught through applied learning that uses the workplace as a “learning lab,” enabling students to simultaneously experience college-level courses, gain credit, and practice workplace skills that may prepare them for STEM and computer science programs and careers. Instructors and employers co-plan and co-teach course content, which creates a seamless learning environment between the classroom and the workplace for students.

Throughout the duration of the partnership, the American Institute for Research (AIR) will be evaluating the feasibility of dual enrollment work-based courses as a strategy to improve students’ college and career readiness as well as STEM and computer science skill attainment.

Our Goals

Leverage work-based learning and dual enrollment to increase college and career readiness: Evidence shows that work-based learning can improve academic outcomes at the secondary and postsecondary levels, support positive youth development, increase employability skills, and help lead students to improved job quality later in life. Dual enrollment also has a positive impact on high school academics, high school graduation rates, college enrollment, college success, and college completion rates.

Increase interest in STEM and computer science fields: According to a Pew Research Center analysis of employment data, women of all background and individuals who identify as Black and/or Latine are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than in other degree fields, and they continue to make up a lower share of STEM graduates and workers in relevant competitive fields. One reason for this may be the lack of support and exposure students receive in secondary and postsecondary to pursue these fields further. In the United States, two out of three women say they were not encouraged to pursue a career in STEM throughout high school.

Support a diverse talent pipeline: The median salary of STEM industry workers in Tennessee is over $70,000, which is more than double the median Tennessee salary. Yet there are significant disparities in which workers have access to these promising careers. Black workers make up 11% of the U.S. workforce, but only 9% of STEM workers, while Latine workers are 16% of the total workforce, but only 7% of STEM workers. Although women make up about half of U.S STEM workers, they are concentrated in low-wage jobs.


Below is a list of current Tennessee SySTEM dual enrollment work-based course awarded schools and associated partners.

  • Alcoa High School – Alcoa, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: TN College of Applied Technology, TCAT Knoxville, Alcoa City Schools Technology Department and Library

  • Anderson County Career and Technical Center – Clinton, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Roane State Community College, Peraton Remotec

  • Bartlett High School – Bartlett, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: University of Memphis, TCAT Memphis, Bartlett Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett Tech Department, Greater Memphis Medical Device Council, West TN STEM Hub, LSI Graphics, TechED2Go

  • Clinton High School – Clinton, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Roane State Community College, Central Technology, Inc., Anderson County Office of Tech

  • Fayetteville, Franklin County, and Lincoln County High School (cohort) – Fayetteville & Winchester, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: TCAT Shelbyville, Lincoln Health System, Nissan, Grammer, FRANKE, Ariens, Tennessee Board of Regents

  • Jefferson County High School – Dandridge, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Northeast State Community College, Jefferson County Schools

  • John Overton High School – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: TCAT Nashville, Asurion, Accenture, MNPS IT, and TN State Department

  • Northeast High School – Clarksville, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Nashville State Community College, IT Department of the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System

  • Oak Ridge High School – Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Tool Engineering, TN Tool and Engineering, Lokar, Boys and Girls Club

  • Southwind High School – Memphis, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Southwest Tennessee Community College, KTG USA

  • Tennessee High School – Bristol, Tennessee
  • Associated partners: Northeast State Community College, Robinette Company


Dual Enrollment Work-Based Courses in Action

TN SySTEM participating high schools have taken different approaches to planning and executing their dual enrollment work-based courses. For example:  

  • Students enrolled in the Alcoa High School Help Desk dual enrollment work-based course experience the ins and outs of working in tech support. Students work in the Alcoa City Schools Technology Department and remain on the high school campus since the class is taught by a high school teacher serving as an adjunct. 
  • Southwind High School is drawing on the anticipated increase in mechatronics jobs in their local area just outside of Memphis. The Mechatronics dual enrollment work-based course offered at Southwest Tennessee Community College allows students to learn the basic electrical components needed to work in the field. The school’s partnership with KTG USA gives students hands-on experience. Both the course and the worksite experience are located off the high school campus.  
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Shelbyville is executing an Industrial Maintenance dual enrollment work-based course available for students at Fayetteville High School and Lincoln County High School. Having one dual enrollment work-based course available for students at multiple high schools allows students to engage with each other and ensures enough enrollment numbers to run the course. Fayetteville and Lincoln students will conduct their worksite portion at Grammer, the local employer specializing in developing and manufacturing components and systems for car interiors.
Dual Enrollment Work-Based Courses at Tennessee High School
Click below to hear about the student's experience in the Quality and Inspection dual enrollment work-based course at Tennessee High School

Related Content


Lessons Learned on Blending Work-Based Learning With Dual Enrollment in Tennessee

Lesson 1: Flexible systems and policies allow for course innovation Case highlight: In Tennessee, schools report on and are held accountable for student participation in both dual enrollment courses and WBL opportunities, but currently courses…

February 5, 2024

Dual Enrollment Work-Based Course Toolkit

Through the Tennessee SySTEM grant, Tennessee high schools planned and executed STEM/Computer Science based dual enrollment work-based courses, courses that combine dual enrollment credit and work-based learning through an employer partner. These tools were used…

January 26, 2024