Center for Literacy, Education & Employment

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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2020 Partners in Education (PIE) Conference Highlights

After a year of planning, in late January 2020, the UTK CLEE Event Team executed the Tennessee Department of Education’s (TDOE) 2020 Partners in Education (PIE) Conference. The conference was held at the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville, TN.

At this annual conference, special education and general education teachers and administrators from across Tennessee gather to learn and highlight evidence-based best practices to ensure all students are prepared for postsecondary education, employment, and independent living. The UTK CLEE Event Team was honored to received public recognition for our efforts from TDOE event hosts, Allison Davey and Joann Runion, with the Whole Child Initiative (see image below).

From a planning standpoint, major accomplishments/successes from the 2020 PIE Conference include:

  • a record number of registrants and attendees,
  • a significant increase in program income,
  • a streamlined check-in procedure resulting in decreased in check-in wait times, and
  • an increased mobile app adoption rate and attendee and funder satisfaction.

For the second consecutive year, the PIE Conference had a record number of registrants (2545) and attendees (2350). With this increase and a small change to the registration timeline, the Event Team was able to increase event income by more than $50,000 without raising registration fees. The conference also had 78 exhibitors and 16 sponsors, which generated nearly $10,000 more income than past conferences.

Despite the increase in registrants, the 2020 PIE Conference attendees experienced shorter wait times at the onsite conference check-in. As part of CLEE’s commitment to continuous improvement and customer service, a revision to our attendee check-in processes streamlined the experience for all attendees.

The 2020 PIE Conference marked the first time the conference did not have a printed program. All conference related information and materials were moved to an online mobile app. More than 90% of attendees actively viewed session schedules, completed session surveys, and interacted with fellow attendees in the mobile app. This is the highest adoption rate we have seen at the PIE Conference.

While the Event Team is pleased with these accomplishments, they would be completely meaningless if the attendees and funder were not satisfied with the conference experience. Other than feedback on meals, all questions on the overall post-event attendee survey were rated above 90% for very satisfied or satisfied.  Onsite, the Event Team received multiple compliments from the funder, and public shout-outs on Twitter as shown above.

Overall, the 2020 Partners in Education Conference has been viewed as a successful conference by the attendees, the funder, and ourselves. While these are things we should definitely be proud of, the UTK CLEE Event Team takes the most pride in being considered a long-time partner of the Tennessee Department of Education.

We are also thrilled to announce that this partnership will continue. While onsite at the 2020 PIE Conference, TDOE asked us to begin planning the 2021 PIE Conference. We are all very excited about planning another Partners in Education Conference for the Tennessee Department of Education.

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