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Early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) include a course and/or exam that give students a chance to obtain postsecondary credit while still in high school. Courses (whether stand-alone or in conjunction with an exam for postsecondary credit) must be aligned to postsecondary standards.

Tennessee students have an unprecedented opportunity to pursue education and training beyond high school through Tennessee Promise, a scholarship and mentoring program which provides high school seniors with two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee. Early postsecondary opportunities ensure that students are ready to take full advantage of the Tennessee Promise and succeed in education and training after high school. Research has shown that students who participate in early postsecondary courses are more likely to enroll and persist in postsecondary environments.

Early postsecondary opportunities allow students to:

  • earn postsecondary credits while in high school.
  • become familiar with postsecondary rigor and expectations.
  • develop confidence and skills for success in postsecondary learning.
  • make informed postsecondary and career decisions.
  • decrease the time and cost of completing a certificate or degree.


EPSO Types

The College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program provides an opportunity for high school students to experience postsecondary-level coursework across multiple subjects.

Each course is aligned to a subject-specific AP exam, which provides students the potential to earn credit for postsecondary coursework in that subject.


A division within the University of Cambridge, Cambridge International Examination provides internationally recognized academic programs for students age 5 to 19. The high school A and AS Level courses, available only through approved Cambridge International Schools, provide students the opportunity to earn postsecondary credit that is accepted by colleges in the U.S. and abroad. Participating schools design their own Cambridge curriculum based on the needs of their students; some schools may base their whole curriculum on Cambridge qualifications, while others may combine Cambridge with other learning programs. Cambridge offers professional development events and resources for teachers throughout the year.

Cambridge Recognition and Acceptance

Developed by the College Board, College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams can be taken by students and adults to assess mastery of postsecondary-level material acquired in a variety of ways, including through general academic instructions, significant independent study, or extracurricular work. Students can earn credit for postsecondary coursework in a specific subject. Examinations are currently offered in 33 subjects at test centers across the state.

ACE credit recommendations

Dual enrollment (DE) is a postsecondary course, taught either at the postsecondary institution or at the high school, by postsecondary faculty or credentialed adjunct faculty. Dual enrollment instructors must meet postsecondary requirements, but do not have to meet specific TN teacher licensure or endorsement requirements.

Dual enrollment courses can be taught at the postsecondary campus, the high school, or online. The location of the course does not affect its status as a dual enrollment course.

Students are enrolled at the postsecondary institution and earn postsecondary credit upon completion of the course. High school credit is awarded based on local policy.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, available only through an approved IB World School, provides high school students the opportunity to take a rigorous, pre-university course of studies. IB courses are aligned to internationally-benchmarked exams which provide opportunities for students to earn postsecondary credit while still in high school. The IB Diploma Programme is available to any student aged 16-19 at participating schools.

Recognition resources

Local dual credit is a high school course aligned to a local postsecondary institution’s course and exam. Students who pass the exam earn credits that are accepted and/or recognized by the local postsecondary institution. Courses are taught by licensed high school teachers or certified college instructors approved by the school system and the postsecondary institution.

Industry certifications (IC) are earned through secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs and courses. High school students are encouraged to focus their elective credits on robust, career-aligned learning pathways. Robust learning pathways should culminate with the achievement of nationally recognized industry certifications, meaningful work-based learning experiences, and/or attainment of postsecondary credit hours through early postsecondary opportunities. As it pertains to industry certifications, all department-promoted certifications are aligned with postsecondary and employment opportunities and with the competencies and skills that students should have acquired through their chosen programs of study.

Statewide Dual Credit

Statewide dual credit classes are college-level courses taught at the high-school level by trained high-school teachers.  Course learning objectives are developed by Tennessee high school and college faculty in order to ensure alignment with post-secondary standards.  All statewide dual credit courses are approved by the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education before they can be offered as a part of the state’s current pilot program (see Public Chapter 967 for more information).

All students enrolled in a statewide dual credit course take the online challenge exam, which is used to assess mastery of the postsecondary-level learning objectives. Students which meet or exceed the exam ‘cut score’ receive college credit that can be applied to any Tennessee public postsecondary institution. Exam scores are reported on the high school transcript to ensure postsecondary credit is accurately awarded but are not used in any state accountability measures.

Fall 2020 Statewide Dual Credit Timeline

Fall Testing (for Block Schedule Courses Only)

10/28/2020 Logins will be delivered for teachers.
11/4/2020 Student rosters will be added.
11/4-13/2020 Teachers will set their exam date in D2L and send in change requests for updating their rosters. SDC coordinators will send in accommodation documentation.
11/9/2020 Proctor instructions and training will be sent to SDC coordinators and teachers.
11/13/2020 Exam accommodation instructions will be sent to SDC coordinators and teachers.
11/16-27/2020 Practice exam window. Students can take the practice exam as many times as they would like.
11/30-12/15/2020 Challenge exam window for non-speech or essay courses.
11/30-12/09/2020 Challenge exam window for essay and speech courses.
12/10 & 12/11/2020 Make up window for essay/speech classes.
12/16 & 12/17/2020 Make up window for all other courses.
1/12/2021 Student scores will be reported to SIS vendors.
1/20/2021 Counselors will transfer student scores to official transcripts.

Spring 2021 Statewide Dual Credit Timeline

Spring Testing (for Block Schedule and Traditional Schedule Courses)

2/23/2021 Teacher logins the assessment platform will be delivered to teachers.
3/2/2021 Student rosters will be added to the assessment platform.
3/15/2021 Teachers will set their exam date in the assessment platform and submit change requests for their rosters by this date.
4/2/2021 Proctor instructions and training will be sent to SDC coordinators and teachers.
4/5/2021 SDC Registration for the 2021-2022 Academic Year will open.
4/12-5/4/2021 Challenge exam window for non-speech or essay courses.
4/12-4/21/2021 Challenge exam window for essay and speech courses.
4/22 & 4/23/2021 Make up window for essay/speech classes.
5/5 & 5/6/2021 Make up window for all other courses.
5/31/2021 Student scores will be reported to SIS vendors.
6/7/2021 Counselors will transfer student scores to official transcripts by this date.


Zachary Adams
Director of Postsecondary Coordination & Alignment
Zachary.adams@tbr.edu | 615-326-4208

Nellie McCollum
EPSO Systems Administrator
Anna.McCollum@tbr.edu | 615-326-5730

Christian Babyak
EPSO Coordinator
Christian.babyak@tbr.edu | 615-326-4637