University of Tennessee

TN-PEARL Launches Website to Share Research and Resources on Higher Education in Tennessee

November 17, 2020

A new website has launched for the Tennessee Postsecondary Evaluation & Analysis Research Lab (TN-PEARL) that aims to make the lab’s research about higher education in Tennessee simple to access and easy to understand.

TN-PEARL is a joint partnership of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. It was created in 2017 to research the effectiveness of Tennessee’s “Drive to 55” initiative to raise college attainment to 55% by the year 2025, and to strengthen the connection between higher education policymakers and researchers.

“Research and analysis produced via the PEARL partnership has been extremely useful,” said Emily House, THEC Deputy Executive Director. “As higher education policymaking must be data-driven and evidence-based, this collaboration has been fruitful and important as the state serves its students.” 

TN-PEARL has produced numerous reports, policy briefs and other research products over the past three years, and this new website will serve as a centralized location for the policy makers, education administrators and the general public to stay informed on research related to higher education in Tennessee.

“Our partnership has three major research areas: student transfer between institutions, student work while enrolled, and the effects of specific postsecondary policies and programs on student success,” said Celeste Carruthers, a core member of the TN-PEARL team, associate professor of economics in the Haslam College of Business, and faculty member in the Boyd Center. “The website is a great way for us to communicate our findings on these topics and to promote related research from students who have worked with us.”

Several fact sheets, infographics and reports pertaining to financial aid, working while enrolled, veteran education, transfer students and more can be found on TN-PEARL’s “Reports and Publications” web page.

“We want to share our research widely among the public and policymakers, but we don’t want to obligate our audience to an entire afternoon of reading or advanced statistical training in order to understand what we’re learning about college students,” Carruthers said. “So, we prepare short fact sheets and briefs that cover some of the main points quickly, and pair these with longer reports that go deeper.”

The website will continue to release reports and news related to TN-PEARL and its affiliated researchers at the Boyd Center, THEC and the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt.

“Our regular engagement with THEC and other agency partners made possible by the TN-PEARL research-practice partnership ensures that our research is addressing the most important higher education questions facing the state and generating actionable research evidence,” said Carolyn Heinrich, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics and TN-PEARL project lead at Vanderbilt University.


Erin Hatfield (, 865-974-6086)