Early Postsecondary Opportunities

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.

We challenge all districts in Tennessee to continue thinking about how to develop a robust portfolio of early postsecondary opportunities. The ‘portfolio’ approach, in which a school offers two or more early postsecondary programs, helps ensure that college credit and/or a technical credential is accessible to all high school students. The eight opportunities offered in Tennessee appeal to diverse student interests, needs, postsecondary aspirations, and levels of prior academic performance.

Early postsecondary offerings are also factored into school and district accountability measures as an “indicator of school quality and student success” as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The indicator focuses on two key areas: opportunity and readiness. Early postsecondary programs provide broad opportunity and access to ensure student readiness for future education and careers.

There are several types of early postsecondary opportunities available in Tennessee. View a side-by-side comparison of each type of early postsecondary opportunity available in Tennessee. Early postsecondary offerings vary widely by school district; reach out to your school counselor for information about the opportunities available within a specific district or school.

EPSO Opportunities