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Complete College TN Act of 2010

In January 2010, Tennessee passed the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA), a comprehensive reform agenda that seeks to transform public higher education through changes in academic, fiscal and administrative policies at the state and institutional level. At the center of these reforms is the need for more Tennesseans to be better educated and trained, while also acknowledging the state's diminished fiscal capacity to support higher education. 

At the heart of the CCTA is a new Public Agenda for higher education which establishes the direct link between the state’s economic development and its educational system. The overarching goal of the Public agenda is to have Tennessee meet the projected national average in educational attainment by 2025. The primary state policy levers for addressing the state’s educational needs are a new funding formula, which incorporates outcomes in lieu of enrollment, a new Quality Assurance Funding program, and the establishment of institutional mission statements or profiles, which distinguish each institution by degree level, program offerings and student characteristics. 

Master Plan for Higher Education
  • Master Plan 2010-2015:  The Public Agenda is a consensus agenda that focuses on increasing statewide educational attainment and concentrates on implementing the provisions of the CCTA. The agenda identifies several policy levers for addressing state needs relative to higher education and proposes performance measures that would indicative of success in implementing the college completion agenda. 
  • Institutional Mission Differentiation Profiles: As required by the CCTA, THEC has reviewed and approved mission profiles for all institutions. These profiles highlight mission distinction in academic degree program specialties, degree levels, and undergraduate/graduate program mix as denoted in Carnegie Classifications. Mission difference is a core principle of the Master Plan and the funding formula to promote institutional efficiencies, guard against program duplication, and best serve workforce development needs of the state.(

  • Annual Master Plan Progress Report: This report fulfills both a directive by the Public Agenda of purposeful reporting as well as meeting statutory obligations pursuant to 49-5-5024(c)(2). The Progress Report provides a brief snapshot of signal strategies related to student success, efficiency and quality as well as an update of process milestones developed by the public higher education system in order to achieve goals set forth in the CCTA.

  • Post-Approval Program Monitoring: While this requirement is not directed by CCTA, THEC annually reports on the productivity of graduates from academic degree graduate and undergraduate programs to the two systems for program monitoring or termination. The report identifies programs that are not meeting nationally-used productivity thresholds. The annual report is support data for refined mission distinction toward meeting Master Plan and formula goals.

  • Supply/Demand Study: High-need Fields: The high-needs field table is extracted from the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Supply and Demand Report, and reflects those fields which are in highest demand in Tennessee. The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has completed an analysis of the Tennessee labor market. The study provides supply and demand projections from 2008-2018 by discipline and degree level which may provide a focus for institutions to calibrate program offerings to current and projected labor market conditions within the state and help policymakers to reduce and eliminate program duplication.

Outcomes Based Funding Formula
  • Funding Formula : The outcomes-based funding formula bases the entire institutional allocation of state appropriations on the basis of outcomes including but not limited to degree production, research funding and graduation rates at universities, and student remediation, job placements, student transfer and associates degrees at community colleges. Each of these outcomes is uniquely weighted at each institution to reinforce mission and Carnegie classification and reflect the priority given to each outcome.
  • Quality Assurance Funding (Formerly named Performance Funding): The measures of program and institutional quality provide a balance and counterpoint to the outcomes-based productivity formula. Institutions can gain additional funds (up to 5.45 percent of appropriations) on performance incentives for student success on national examinations in major fields and general education, and for institutional success in program accreditation and qualitative program review, among many other quality measures.

Articulation and Transfer
  • Universally Transferrable Common General Education 41-hour Core:  As required by the CCTA, all public community colleges and universities now offer and accept in transfer a common set of courses in its entirety or by completed general education subject field (such as physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, etc.) 
  • Universally Transferrable 19-hour Pre-major Pathways:   As required by the CCTA, all public community colleges and universities honor transfer for 19-hour pre-major paths in 38 baccalaureate degree majors (history, agriculture, civil engineering, psychology, etc.). All community colleges and universities have agreed on the lower division course requirements fulfilling an AA/AS area of emphasis and BA/BS major. Articulation agreements in seven other baccalaureate pre-major pathways are under construction.

  • Articulation and Transfer Report: Although not required by the CCTA, the annual Articulation & Transfer report fulfills statutory obligations pursuant to TCA §49-7-202(f). This report evaluates the progress of articulation and transfer policy implementation and transfer student activity. The 2011 Articulation and Transfer report describes the implementation status of many aspects of the Complete College Tennessee Act pertaining to student transfer. It concludes with a fall 2010 snapshot of student transfer activity in the state.

  • Dual Admissions: To facilitate student transfer after associate degree completion, a community college and a university can concurrently admit a student meeting admission requirements for both institutions. The dually-admitted student has the advising and student service benefits of both institutions and can enroll in classes offered by each.

  • Designated Associate of Applied Science Courses not Designed for Transfer: As required by the CCTA, all community colleges are identifying in catalogs and all web course listings the courses required for the Associate of Applied Science majors (not AA/AS university parallel programs). These career courses do not have university course counterparts, as the AAS prepares a student for employment after associate degree completion and not transfer to a baccalaureate program.

  • Common Course Numbering: Lower division courses meeting general education and pre-major path requirements carry the same number (and often title) at all community colleges and universities. The common course numbers ensure course equivalency and facilitate transfer.

Remedial and Developmental Courses Offered Only by Community Colleges

As required by CCTA, remedial and developmental education will be provided by community colleges and not universities as of July 1, 2012. Universities and community college partners are contracting for the community college delivery of academic support courses through this provision.​​

Research Enhancement for State Economic Development
  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Enhanced Research and Graduate Education collaborative Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education has been established. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved the UTK Ph.D. in Energy Science and Engineering. ​
  • The Memphis Research Consortium represents the collaboration of the University of Memphis, UT Health Science Center, St. Jude Hospital and other Memphis-based business and health providers toward enhanced research in specified biotech and health-related fields.