Recommendation 3

Fully Adopting a Data Collection and Analysis Mechanism for Postsecondary Advising

MNPS should meaningfully encourage the full adoption of a postsecondary advising data collection and analysis mechanism available to appropriate staff and community-based partners engaged in postsecondary advising with support from state and other partners.


MNPS is focusing on how the district provides students with the momentum to be successful post-graduation by identifying metrics that will allow school-based personnel to strategically track and support students.

Through a partnership with Education Strategy Group, MNPS has identified the following Momentum Metrics:

The percentage of students who have achieved at least a 3.0 GPA at the end of their 9th-grade year.

The percentage of students who have shown potential to be successful in advanced coursework who have successfully completed at least one advanced course.

Of students who participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE) coursework, the percentage who concentrate in an in-demand pathway, as defined by regional labor market data.

The percentage of high school seniors who are admitted to at least one “match” postsecondary institution. A match postsecondary institution is determined by a student’s GPA and test scores and the degree to which that student’s academic credentials align with the selectivity of the college or university in which they are applying.

The percentage of high school seniors who submitted at least two college applications.

The percentage of eligible high school seniors who complete the FAFSA by June 30. Some students are considered ineligible to complete the FAFSA due to citizenship requirements or lack of documentation around that student’s household income.

The percentage of students who enroll at a postsecondary institution, enlist in the military, enter the workforce (in a position with family-sustaining wages), or participate in a registered apprenticeship directly after high school.

The percentage of students at postsecondary institutions who complete “gateway” (or entry level) courses within their first year.

While some of this information can be easily accessed through the district’s data portal, Infinite Campus, others are not tracked within that system and may require input from external stakeholders, including CBOs and postsecondary institutions who do not have access to Infinite Campus. The National Student Clearinghouse tracks matriculation to over 3,600 postsecondary institutions with which it has a data sharing agreement but does not encompass all education and training providers. As a result, the committee was surprised to learn, CTE teachers and other staff are often individually contacting students after graduation to update their workforce and education-related data. Tennessee’s longitudinal data system, P20 Connect TN, contains all that information, yet no school district has access to that information. Without that access, MNPS is forced to seek data sources and create systems manually.

Access to the P20 Connect TN system would reduce redundancies and limit the strain on staff as they collect information around student transitions. It would also allow MNPS to better understand the impact a student’s interest and performance in their high school career pathway has on their postsecondary and career outcomes.

One aspect of that visit that stood out was how students are individually supported throughout their high school journeys. In discussions with student ambassadors for the Academies of Nashville, it was clear that they had strong relationships with the advising team.

Key Learnings & Perspectives
Each of the high schools has an ecosystem of advising supports. To better understand that ecosystem, the committee held its initial school visit at John Overton High School, a school with one of the most diverse student populations in MNPS and most robust postsecondary advising resources. Overton has both GEAR UP and New Skills Ready, meaning they have a dedicated GEAR UP Specialist as well as two dedicated College and Career Readiness (CCR) Coaches. In addition, Overton benefits from partnerships with community-based organizations such as Conexión Américas and Oasis Center as well as key technology and engineering employers since it is one of only a few schools to have both IT and Engineering Academies.
One aspect of that visit that stood out was how students are individually supported throughout their high school journeys. In discussions with student ambassadors for the Academies of Nashville, it was clear that they had strong relationships with the advising team. Over the summer, CCR Coach Beth Wilson and GEAR UP Specialist Deborah Osborne divided up the incoming senior class based on their needs and interests. Then, they spent time organizing that information so each advisor would be able to access the information and provide appropriate support to their assigned students. While this was a great enhancement, there are limitations to this approach being primarily shared through spreadsheets. Schools that are the most organized in this space follow a similar process; however, with postsecondary advising bandwidth and capacity varying from school to school, this process may require an impractical amount of time and effort for some schools to implement. While advisors are supported throughout winter and spring with information on Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Tennessee Promise completion via the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC), there have not been consistent and reliable ways to track and intervene with students as a team since key information may be housed solely in an advisor’s personal notes.

Shortly after the committee’s visit to Overton, GEAR UP Nashville rolled out a Senior Milestone Tracker and Dashboard. This tool is used only by approved advisors, both internal and external, and holds key information around a student’s interests, GPA, ACT score, and whether the student has completed their FAFSA and TN Promise applications. A unique component of the tracker is that students can input steps they have taken toward postsecondary opportunities and document the support they have received in real time. While the committee is delighted with this new tool, the committee encourages MNPS to invest and thoughtfully approach the debut of such a tool to ensure it is meaningfully adopted by all users. If underutilized, this dashboard will not provide the results needed to make an impact.

Further, this dashboard is currently focused on high school seniors. Effective K-12 postsecondary advising begins well before a student’s senior year. While many steps toward postsecondary enrollment are not required until a student’s senior year (i.e., college and scholarship applications), it is critical to ensure a student has a career and academic plan well beforehand, and to keep track of their efforts building and designing that plan. MNPS has impactful tools such as YouScience and Pathful (formerly Virtual Job Shadow) that support career exploration and connection to career pathways, but often those are used solely as students prepare to select a pathway before the second semester of their freshman year. Incorporating a tool that tracks student progress, curiosity, and steps taken toward their postsecondary and career goals – and includes access to all advising stakeholders – would allow for a true community approach to advising.

Lastly, if MNPS, with the state’s help, can enhance and expand its ability to collect, analyze and share data related to postsecondary advising, it will allow the district to strategically engage community partners as an added resource to their own school staff supports. In addition to providing insights into successes and where programs and students need more support, having a tool that allows for information-sharing will increase this collaboration’s effectiveness. The district has already begun this work by identifying key data points through its Momentum Metrics work with the Education Strategy Group.

Using a consistent tool that organizes those metrics in a way that is both accessible and actionable will both allow the district and its schools to identify where interventions are needed, as well as provide key learnings around its efforts.

Recommendation 1:

MNPS should evaluate the impacts and effectiveness of grants supporting K-12 postsecondary advising and create a plan for sustainability and scalability based on evaluation results.

Recommendation 2:

MNPS should ensure their advising strategy clearly identifies how external community partners can best augment and reinforce the district's advising efforts to ensure all students have a pathway to a successful career.

Recommendation 4:

The Nashville Metro Council, Tennessee state legislature, and postsecondary institutions should provide flexibility and tailor postsecondary enrollment and completion supports to better address barriers to student access and success.
The Education Report 2023 Commendations
Of course, our committee doesn’t work alone on this project. Without the help of our community and network, the 2023 Education Report would’ve never come together. If you’ve finished reading over our recommendations, please take a minute to appreciate our thanks for those who made this whole thing possible.