Newly elected Rep. Harold Love noted that some schools in Nashville have so-called academies that connect students with business partners to provide real-world learning experiences and professional training.

For instance, he said one academy teaches students how to run a restaurant.

"This gives students an opportunity if they want to pursue a course for college they still can, and maybe go into the culinary arts," said the Nashville Democrat. "Or, if they want to be able to work in a restaurant, actually go from high school to work in a restaurant."

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville said helping students as much as possible obtain a strong skill set before they enter the workforce is also beneficial to employers.

"We're putting a product out there that they have to be retrained once they're hired," he said.

Also announced this week, Tennessee is among five states that plan to add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013.

Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York were the other states that will take part in the three-year pilot program, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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