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Roane County Schools Lead the State With 15 Certified Pathways

December 27, 2019

Cutline: Front Row L-R: Russell Jenkins, Corey Mashburn, Roane County Schools; Cydnie Tate, Tennessee Department of Education; Mike ‘Brillo’ Miller, Victor King, Roane County School Board; and back row, l-r: Sam Cox, Rob Jago, Roane County School Board; Lance Duff, Roane County Schools; Larry Brackett, Roane County School Board; and Director LaDonna McFall, Roane County Schools.

ROANE COUNTY, TN. – Roane County’s high schools are among 74 Tennessee high schools recognized for leading the way by becoming the first to receive pathway certifications from the Tennessee Department of Education. In November, Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced that the state certified a total 122 pathways in 74 different schools across the state. Roane County received 15 of those pathway certifications among the five high schools, accounting for more than 12% of the state’s total, the highest of any school district in the state.

“We are pleased that the state has recognized our work in creating Certified Tennessee Pathways for our students,” said CTE Director Lance Duff, Roane County Schools. “We have several more pathways in our schools, but not all of our pathways are certified. And, not all of the different pathways are being offered at all five high schools due to the lack of equipment and other resource requirements. We are continuing to work to create additional pathways and are currently looking to apply for six new Certified Pathways.

”The partnership of Roane County Schools, Roane State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman, and the Roane Alliance works to increase the number of career pathways to meet skill demands of employers. The partners, with Duff leading the effort, are working hard to increase the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, career pathways, and Certified Pathways available to high school students across all five high schools.

These programs will provide students a skills foundation to enhance their future career and employment opportunities.

Danice Turpin, the President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Harriman, said, “We have come leaps and bounds in the last three years in establishing and supporting career pathways."

Pathways are a program of classes and experiences and in order for a pathway to become certified by the state it must meet higher requirements. Tennessee Pathways are structured around three required key elements shown to increase seamless enrollment and success in postsecondary programs:

-High-quality college and career advisement throughout K-12;

-Rigorous early postsecondary (Dual Enrollment classes) and work-based learning opportunities in high school; and

-Seamless vertical alignment between K-12, postsecondary programs, and career opportunities as a result of effective partnerships among school districts, higher education institutions, employers, and community organizations.

“The state’s recognition of Roane County Schools’ leadership in the development of fifteen career pathway certifications is both good news and not-so-good news,” said Dana Peterka, Chair of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce.

“First the good news,” added Peterka. “The development of 15 certified career-focused pathways, the highest of any school district in the state, is very impressive. Congratulations to Duff and the teachers involved on Dr. McFall’s team. The not-so-good news is that we have many more career pathways in Roane County that are not certified because of our lack of resources to meet the needs of five high schools. There are only three Certified Pathways offered at each of the five high schools. In contrast, in a nearby competitive county, Maryville High School offers 11 Certified Pathways. Additionally, non-certified pathways are spread unevenly across Roane County’s five high schools, with the highest number of seven pathways at one high school and the lowest number of four at two high schools.”

The number of Certified Tennessee Pathways announced by Tennessee Department of Education for other nearby counties include Alcoa City Schools, 2; Anderson County Schools, 1; Blount County Schools, 8; Cumberland County Schools, 2; Maryville City Schools, 11; and McMinn County Schools, 1. Each of these school districts likely has additional non-certified pathways.

Also announced in November, Roane State was awarded a grant for nearly $1 million to expand Dual Enrollment studies in mechatronics and computer technologies at eleven high schools in four rural counties, including Roane. Because of the grant, Roane County Schools’ CTE programs and Certified Pathways will expand. A goal of the grant is to enable students, who earn certificates in CTE and Early College classes, to obtain employment in either Mechatronics, the engineering of electrical and mechanical systems, or computer technologies that includes Cyber Defense, within a year of high school graduation.

The 15 Certified Tennessee Pathways recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education in Roane County include:

Harriman High: Health Science Pathway– Advanced, STEM Pathway– Advanced, Dual Enrollment Middle College Pathway – Advanced

Midway High: Health Science Pathway– Advanced, Dual Enrollment Middle College Pathway – Advanced, Business Pathway – Certified

Oliver Springs High: Health Science Pathway– Advanced, Dual Enrollment Middle College Pathway– Advanced, Business Pathway – Certified

Roane County High: Health Science Pathway – Advanced, Dual Enrollment Middle College Pathway – Advanced, Business Pathway– Certified

Rockwood High: Health Science Pathway– Advanced, Dual Enrollment Middle College Pathway – Advanced, Business Pathway– Certified

“The efforts of the Partners in expanding opportunities for our Roane County students is exceptional. Roane County is leading the way when it comes to certified Tennessee Pathways,” said Education and Workforce Development Director Allen Lutz of the Roane Alliance. “This also fits into the county’s ThreeStar goal to expand the offerings to our students to develop additional talent to build a strong workforce pipeline.”

Peterka added, “The members of the Roane Chamber employ over 14,000 people. Many of our members are struggling to find qualified employees. Many are bringing in qualified people from neighboring counties, and several are unable to grow their businesses due to the lack of qualified workers. The Chamber is proud of the progress that is being made by the partners to develop more CTE courses, enabling our youth to more quickly become productive members of the workforce and our Roane community, while also getting a strong, early start on their individual career paths.”

The Roane Alliance mission is to create an environment and a unified voice that promotes job creation, economic development, enhanced quality of life, education, and workforce. To learn more about the Alliance and its partners, please call 865.376.2093 or visit