Rigorous Academic Coursework

  • Wilson County Schools wants all students to take the most rigorous courses for which students demonstrate readiness. 

    Here are some opportunities for students to increase the rigor of their high school academic program:

    Honors Courses

    Honors courses exceed the content standards, learning expectations, and performance indicators of standard courses. Teachers of honors courses model instructional approaches that facilitate maximum interchange of ideas among students: independent study, self-directed research and learning, and appropriate use of technology. All honors courses include multiple assessments exemplifying coursework (such as short answer, constructed-response prompts, performance-based tasks, open-ended questions, essays, original or creative interpretations, authentic products, portfolios, and analytical writing). Additionally, an honors course includes a minimum of five of the following components: 

    • Extended reading assignments that connect with the specified curriculum;
    • Research-based writing assignments that address and extend the course curriculum;
    • Projects that apply course curriculum to relevant or real-world situations;
    • Open-ended investigations in which the student selects the questions and designs the research;
    • Writing assignments that demonstrate a variety of modes, purposes, and styles;
    • Integration of appropriate technology into the course of study;
    • Deeper exploration of the culture, values, and history of the discipline;
    • Extensive opportunities for problem-solving experiences through imagination, critical analysis, and appreciation; and
    • Job shadowing experiences with presentations that connect class study to the world of work.

    To enroll in an honors course, students should have records of high achievement.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.

    Statewide Dual Credit Courses

    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 must take the free 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.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.

    Local Dual Credit Courses

    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 only. Courses are taught by licensed high school teachers or certified college instructors approved by the school system and the postsecondary institution. Exam fees are determined by the post-secondary institution providing the challenge exam.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.

    Dual Enrollment Courses

    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 who complete and pass the course(s) may earn high school and college credit. Students are responsible for seeking admission to the college or university and for payment of college tuition and all needed academic materials, including textbooks. It is the responsibility of the student to verify that the credit will be accepted at the university they plan to attend.

    A qualified high school student is defined as a junior or senior with an unweighted 3.0 average or higher in the subject area of enrollment and with an ACT composite score as determined by the partnering University and an ACT sub score meeting the ACT Readiness Benchmark in the subject area of enrollment if applicable.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.

    Students may qualify for the dual enrollment grant to offset the costs of dual enrollment courses. Visit Dual Enrollment Grant for more information about award information, eligibility, requirements, and application.

    In addition, Wilson County Schools partners with colleges and universities to provide Early College Programs, Dual Enrollment Extreme Programs, and Collegiate Academy experiences to provide eligible students opportunities to enroll full-time in college-level coursework.

    Advanced Placement Courses

    The College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program provides an opportunity for high school students to experience rigorous 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. The student is responsible for seeking information from colleges of interest about what AP score is necessary to earn college credit.

    Students enrolled in AP courses should plan to take the AP exam. Exams cost approximately $94 each, but fee assistance may be available to qualified students.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.

    Industry Certification Courses

    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 Tennessee Department of Educated-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.

    Weighted grades will be awarded in accordance to Board Policy 4.600.


    *These courses will be indicated in the Program of studies