Early Postsecondary Opportunities

Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) allow high school students to earn credits for advanced education or training programs. As students become familiar with postsecondary learning expectations and requirements through EPSOs, they can develop confidence and the necessary study skills to succeed in postsecondary coursework, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their plans and career goals after high school. The credit that students earn through EPSOs also decreases the time and cost of completing a certificate or degree program.

In Tennessee, EPSOs include:

  • Dual Credit (Local & Statewide)
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

Dual Credit

Dual credit courses are high school courses aligned to a postsecondary course. Dual credit courses are taught at the high school by high school faculty for high school credit. Students are able to receive postsecondary credit by successfully completing the course and passing an assessment developed and/or recognized by the granting postsecondary institution.

  • Local dual credit agreements occur between one postsecondary institution and one or more LEAs. These credits are only accepted by the postsecondary institution(s) involved in that partnership, and typically are not recognized by other institutions.
  • Statewide dual credit courses are existing high school courses aligned with a TDOE-approved statewide dual credit challenge examination and supplemental resources developed by postsecondary faculty. Students who pass these challenge examinations will earn college credits accepted by all Tennessee public postsecondary institutions.
  • Statewide dual credit courses do not alter or replace existing local dual credit agreements between LEAs and postsecondary institutions. However, these local agreements are not automatically transferable to other postsecondary institutions (unless agreed upon by all parties).

2013-14 Statewide Dual Credit Pilot

College Algebra/Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry

Fifty high schools from across the state have been selected to participate in a statewide dual credit pilot program for the 2013-14 school year. The program will allow students enrolled in Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry (course code 3124) to earn College Algebra (MATH 1130) credits, which will be accepted by and transferable to any public postsecondary institution in Tennessee.

To earn this credit, students must pass a TDOE-approved statewide dual credit challenge exam that aligns Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry (AAT) with College Algebra. The dual credit challenge exam fee will be waived for the 2013-14 pilot, though we do expect a nominal challenge exam administration fee for students participating in dual credit college algebra in future years.

This statewide challenge exam has been developed by secondary and postsecondary math faculty from various LEAs, colleges, and universities across the state. Statewide dual credit courses do not change the AAT standards approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education. This program provides students with an affordable postsecondary learning experience and the opportunity to earn credits toward a postsecondary degree.

Schools not selected for the pilot this year will be able to participate in this early postsecondary opportunity after course approval by the state board.

What are the benefits of participating?
  • If your school is selected to implement the pilot course, students enrolled in Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry in 2013-14 will have the opportunity to earn transferable College Algebra credits before graduating high school by taking an online assessment.
  • College Algebra is included in several Tennessee Transfer Pathways, and it meets the general education math requirement for many degree programs.
  • Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry teachers will receive professional development and supplemental materials which will help them align the Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry standards to the postsecondary learning objectives measured by the statewide dual credit challenge exam (online assessment).
  • Your school’s participation will contribute to a more effective statewide dual credit program and will help to expand early postsecondary opportunities for your students and for students across Tennessee.
What is required in order to participate?
  • Any participating school must offer AAT during the 2013-14 school year.
  • At least one Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry teacher from each pilot school must attend two days of professional development (dates listed below).Any participating school must agree to administer the statewide dual credit College Algebra challenge exam to all Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry students at the end of the course, using an online assessment provided by the state.
  • During the 2013-14 pilot year, we will offer the dual credit College Algebra pilot challenge exam to participating students at no charge.

    While we hope to continue offering the dual credit challenge examinations at no charge indefinitely, the dual credit assessment platform and data system are still under development. Dual credit students may incur a nominal testing fee associated with test scoring in future years. We continue to investigate the possibility of fee reductions or waivers for students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. More information about dual credit challenge examination fees will be released as it is available.
What resources are available for teachers participating in the pilot?

Statewide Dual Credit Agriculture (Agriculture Business Finance and Greenhouse Management)

Two statewide dual credit agriculture courses are available to high school students for the 2013-14 school year as part of our statewide dual credit initiative. Any high school that offers Agriculture Business Finance (5943), and/or Greenhouse Management (5954), is eligible to provide this exciting opportunity to students enrolled in these courses. Schools interested in participating in this pilot must submit a completed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) annually. The deadline to submit MOUs for the 2013-14 school year has passed.

These courses cover all of the State Board of Education-approved standards for each course in addition to learning objectives identified by faculty work groups from public postsecondary institutions across the state. These learning objectives and supplemental resources will be provided to the dual credit teachers. The statewide dual credit agriculture challenge examinations will cover material from the secondary standards as well as the approved postsecondary learning objectives. This is an excellent opportunity for agriculture students to experience postsecondary learning while in the supportive high school environment.

Earning and Applying Statewide Dual Credit Agriculture Credits

Students who meet or exceed a cut score of 70% on one of the statewide dual credit agriculture challenge examinations will be awarded three credits upon matriculation at any public postsecondary institution in Tennessee. The following table indicates the postsecondary courses aligned with each statewide dual credit challenge examination. All public postsecondary institutions will accept earned credits under the statewide dual credit program. If the institution to which the student matriculates does not offer the specific course for which a student earns credit, a three hour elective credit will be awarded.

Secondary Course Secondary Code College Course College Code Application of Earned Credits toward Degrees
Agriculture Business Finance 5943 Introduction to Agriculture Business AGRI 1010
  • Major (if applicable)
  • Elective Credits
Greenhouse Management 5954 Introduction to Ornamental Horticulture AGRI 1030
  • Major (if applicable)
  • Elective Credits

Resources for 2013-14 Statewide Dual Credit Pilot Sites

The Office of Postsecondary Coordination and Alignment is currently working with the Tennessee Colleges for Applied Technology to establish statewide articulation agreements based on industry certifications. We also will work to develop dual credit assessments for programs that do not have interim or stackable certifications.

Dual Enrollment

The state does not officially approve courses for dual enrollment. LEAs or high schools partner with postsecondary institutions to determine appropriate dual enrollment course offerings for high school students. However, a list of common courses offered for dual enrollment may be helpful in determining student opportunities. Two important criteria to consider in selecting dual enrollment offerings are the TN Transfer Pathway (TTP) courses and whether the courses meet General Education (Gen. Ed.) requirements. TTP courses are easily transferred between most postsecondary institutions. Many degree programs require General Education Core Courses.

Read additional information on the State Board of Education policy.

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP classes are college-level classes in multiple subjects offered by the College Board. High school students can earn college credit by passing the AP exam associated with the specific course. Read more about Advanced Placement.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP provides exams that test mastery of college-level material acquired through various means, including general academic instruction, independent study, or extracurricular work. Learn more about CLEP.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate offers an academically challenging education program with accompanying exams that enable students to earn college credit. Learn more.

Additional EPSOs

Cambridge AICE


Public Chapter 967 of the Public Acts of 2012, codified at Title 49, Chapter 15, Part 1, revised the requirements of the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education (Consortium) in state law. Effective July 1, 2012, the Consortium is charged with increasing and expanding postsecondary opportunities for high school students. The above referenced law specifically requires the development and pilot implementation of statewide dual credit assessments that are recognized and accepted for credit by public postsecondary institutions statewide. The priorities of the Office of Postsecondary Coordination and Alignment as well as the complete, engrossed legislation can be found in our Strategic Plan.

For questions regarding early postsecondary credit opportunities, contact Early.Postsecondary@tn.gov.

Last Update: June 5, 2014