Tennessee Celebrates Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) Week

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 | 08:59am


Building Awareness of EPSOs; Positive Impact on College and Career Readiness   


Nashville, TN - This week, the Tennessee Department of Education, in collaboration with districts and schools across the state, is celebrating the unique role early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) play in preparing students for college and career during the 6th annual EPSO Week, happening October 18-22.  

Across the state, schools and districts will spotlight and promote these opportunities for students through various activities and events during the week. The department encourages schools, educators, and districts to join in highlighting their work by sharing on social media using #EPSOWeek2021.   

Early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) include a course and/or exam that give students a chance to obtain postsecondary credit while still in high school. In Tennessee, there are eight different types of EPSOs offered widely by districts.

“Tennessee is focused on finding new ways to promote equitable access to early postsecondary opportunities through strategic investments that create access for students, and by encouraging our school districts to continue to expand EPSO opportunities that allow students to accelerate their time to postsecondary degree completion-- in some cases, even earning a postsecondary degree or credential concurrently with their high school diploma,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This week is about highlighting the innovative work our districts and schools are providing to students through EPSOs and how Tennessee is preparing students for postsecondary success.”  

EPSOs have been shown to increase the number of students seamlessly transitioning from high school to postsecondary while helping them also save money on tuition. Districts across the state are leveraging dual credit and dual enrollment opportunities to maximize the number of college credits students can earn during their high school experience.   

Jackson-Madison County School’s Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School partners with Jackson State Community College to offer a degree in Computer Information Technology that is earned concurrently with their high school diploma at no cost. Students begin taking dual credit courses in their freshman and sophomore years and move on to finish the postsecondary degree using the state’s dual enrollment grant, Advanced Placement courses, and dual credit courses.  

"Our partnership with Jackson State Community College allows us to weave EPSOs into our curriculum that increases the rigor of our offerings and allows students to work toward or earn postsecondary degrees starting in their 9th grade year,” said Dr. Nathan Lewis, Principal, Jackson Central-Merry & CTE Director.  

Hardeman County Schools is replicating Jackson-Madison County’s model to prepare students at its two high schools focusing on cyber security. This past summer, Hardeman County outfitted computer labs at Middletown and Bolivar Central High Schools providing students with the opportunity to work towards a degree as well as earn valuable industry credentials.  

Jeff Barnes, CTE Director, Hardeman County Schools, said, “Hardeman County believes that preparing our students for careers in IT will set them up for success-- for themselves, their families, and their community. We expect this program to grow as it is implemented over the next several years.” 

In September, the department announced nearly 1,200 high school students representing 102 school districts across the state are participating in the AP Access for ALL program, administered by the Niswonger Foundation. AP Access for ALL provides students with access to virtual AP courses and the opportunity to earn postsecondary course credit. 

To learn more about early postsecondary opportunities in Tennessee, visit the department’s website.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov