Accelerated Learning Options in High School


Competency-Based Credit

Tennessee high school students may earn college-level credit by receiving satisfactory scores on College-Level Exam Program (CLEP) assessments. Postsecondary institutions determine whether and to what extent CLEP exams will count toward college credit.

Career and Technical Education

High school students may choose a career concentration in one of 16 career clusters to fulfill the three-credit “elective focus” graduation requirement. The state has revised CTE course standards and programs of study. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, CTE concentrators will be defined as students completing three or more courses within a CTE program of study.

The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) partnered with high schools and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) to institute the TCAT Dual Enrollment Program. The program links CTE programs with TCAT instruction, creating more opportunities for high school students to earn postsecondary credit while in high school, better aligning TCAT curriculum with instruction, and identifying options for transitioning the programs fully to postsecondary. The programs of study currently include Diesel technology, Cosmetology/Barbering, and Mechatronics.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Dual enrollment opportunities allow high school students to earn postsecondary credit by enrolling in and successfully completing a postsecondary course either on the college or high school campus or virtually. The state, through the Dual Enrollment Grant Program, provides financial assistance to cover tuition costs for the courses. The grant pays the full cost of tuition and fees for a student’s first two dual enrollment courses at a community college ($500 per course). Additional, partial coverage is available and depends on institutions and total number of courses taken.

Local Dual Credit

There are two types of dual credit opportunities in Tennessee. A local dual credit course is a high school course (taught at the high school by high school faculty) that is aligned to a postsecondary course. Students can receive postsecondary credit by successfully completing the course and passing an assessment developed and/or recognized by the credit-granting postsecondary institution.

Statewide Dual Credit

The statewide dual credit courses are high school courses with accompanying challenge exams created by Tennessee secondary and postsecondary faculty work groups. The work groups reviewed existing high school course standards and the aligned postsecondary course to determine the additional learning objectives that students need to know to show mastery of the postsecondary material. Students who meet or exceed established exam cut scores earn postsecondary credit. Statewide dual credit courses must be approved by the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education before they can be offered as part of the state’s current pilot program.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

House Bill 705, passed in 2013, provides that the state shall be responsible for all AP testing fees, regardless of the student’s score attained on the exam. This is to enhance the accessibility of AP courses for all students and to encourage those interested in career and technical training to pursue completion of rigorous course work. The bill also established the Tennessee Advance Placement Partnership (TAPP), a relationship between the state board of education and a national nonprofit education organization that provides consulting and assistance focused on growing the AP program in the state. 

The International Baccalaureate diploma Programme provides high schools students the opportunity to receive postsecondary credit while still in high school through course completion exams.

Early College High Schools

The early college high school model is designed to allow students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate degree or two years of credit toward a bachelor’s degree. Tennessee has two early college high schools in Memphis that are part of the national Early College High School Initiative. There are similar schools in Nashville, Knoxville, and Johnson City, with several other districts looking to build these types of programs.

Early High School Graduation

The Move on When Ready program, created with the passing of House Bill 837 in 2011, allows eligible public-school students in grade 11 or 12 to complete an early high school graduation program. Students receive unconditional entry into a public two-year institution or conditional entry into a public four-year institution. In order to qualify for the Move on When Ready early diploma, students must fulfill each of the following:

  • Earn 18 specified core credits
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2
  • Cored at the On-Track or Mastered level on each EOC taken
  • Meet benchmark score of 21 or higher on the ACT (or SAT equivalent)
  • Achieve a passing score on a nationally recognized foreign language proficiency assessment
  • Complete two early postsecondary courses

Participating postsecondary institutions receive state funds, in the lesser amount of either tuition and fees or the state per pupil expenditure through the BEP, less a $200 records fee.

Early College Admission

Twelfth graders with a 3.2 GPA and minimum 22 ACT can pursue early admission. The freshman coursework taken at the participating college or university substitutes for courses that the student would have needed to graduate from high school.