Tennessee high school students may earn college-level credit by
receiving satisfactory scores on College Level Exam Program
assessments. Exams are currently offered in 33 subjects.
Postsecondary institutions determine whether and to what extent
CLEP exams will count toward college credit.
Students, ages 5 to 19, may also take Cambridge
International Examinations and have the opportunity to
earn college-level credit at approved Cambridge International
schools. Some schools may base their entire curriculum on
Cambridge qualifications while others may incorporate Cambridge
into their current learning program. The department of education
offers financial assistance to help low-income students pay for
certain Cambridge exams.
Career and Technical Education
In Tennessee, career and technical education means the “rigorous
academic, technical, and employability skills or content that is
taught through career focused standards and courses in grades
K-12 and postsecondary which prepare learners for advanced
education, training, and employment in aligned occupations and
Tennessee’s CTE opportunities are organized based on the National
16 Career Clusters Framework and further specified into programs
of study or career pathways. High school students may choose to
concentrate in one of these pathways to fulfill the three-credit
“elective focus” graduation requirement. Students participating
in approved CTE programs of study may earn postsecondary credit
through opportunities including dual enrollment, industry
certification articulation agreements, statewide dual credit
assessment opportunities, or national programs, such as AP.
The Tennessee Department of Education offers Work-based Learning
opportunities through which juniors and seniors may earn
postsecondary credit by completing capstone experiences such as
apprenticeships, internships, clinical experiences and other
practicum placements that align with the student’s area of
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. High school
credit is awarded based on local policy. Courses can be taught on
the college or high school campus or virtually and are led by
postsecondary faculty or credentialed adjunct faculty.
Through the Dual Enrollment Grant Program, the
state 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). Additionally, students identified as
“high-need” may receive additional funding through the Governor’s
Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act for up to four
Dual Credit courses allow students to earn
postsecondary credit and high school credit for courses taught on
the high school campus by trained high school teachers. There are
two types of dual credit opportunities in Tennessee.
Local Dual Credit
A local dual credit course is a high school course 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 for students 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. Tennessee currently has three fully implemented dual
credit courses and eight which are still in a pilot phase.
Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate
The Tennessee Department of Education lets students participate
in College Board’s AP Program that offers students the
opportunity to earn college credit through successful completion
of related exams.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme provides
students age 16 to 19 attending an approved IB World School the
opportunity to receive postsecondary credit while still in high
school through course completion exams.
The Department of Education has set up a funding structure to
help low-income students pay for certain AP and IB examinations.
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 several early college high schools throughout the
state, including those in Memphis that are part of the national
Early College High School Initiative. There are similar schools
in Nashville, Knoxville, Jackson and Johnson City, with several
other districts looking to build these types of programs.
Early High School Graduation
Chapter 488 (2011) created the Move on When Ready program.
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. 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
- Score at the On-Track or Mastered level on each EOC taken
- Meet ACT/SAT benchmarks set by the Tennessee Higher Education
- Achieve a passing score on a nationally recognized foreign
language proficiency assessment
- Complete at least two early postsecondary courses (e.g., AP,
IB, dual enrollment or dual credit)