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About the Challenge High School Program

Challenge History

In 1976, PSU joined with the North Clackamas School District to initiate a concurrent enrollment program for high achieving seniors who had tapped out of high school offerings. Today, we serve approximately 1,000 student in 7 school districts and are accredited both by the State of Oregon and with the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).

Why Challenge?

In today’s drive to provide rigorous postsecondary academic challenges to high school students in their own environments, we see Challenge as offering benefits that set it apart from other programs, including the College Board’s Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate programs. Consider the following:

  • Students are exposed to the rigor, expectations, demands, and culture of a college course, providing an experience that prepares them well for college.
  • University standards, not test writers, define course curriculum.
  • Instructors hold advanced degrees appropriate to PSU’s departmental academic standards.  
  • Challenge courses provide multiple and varied assessments to evaluate work—quizzes, homework, mid-terms, projects and finals—instead of a single, final exam. In this way, Challenge is more inclusive; students who may not test well have an opportunity to gain college credit.
  • In high schools that run on the semester system, courses taught at PSU in a quarter may be extended over the high school semester, allowing time to learn the course work in more depth.
  • Challenge students and instructors have access to PSU services—computer accounts, the library with its research databases and available training, a web-based classroom management tool for instructors, and on-campus activities. We encourage our students to come to campus for workshops, special lectures, and to simply familiarize themselves with a college campus.
  • Challenge provides professional development opportunities to its instructors. Program adjunct instructors and PSU faculty members forge collegial and academic relationships through campus workshops and regular site visits to the classrooms. Instructors are eligible for reduced tuition for continued education in their discipline.
  • In select disciplines, the content for AP or IB may fit within the PSU Challenge course syllabus which has made it possible for some of our participating high schools to offer PSU courses which also meet AP or IB requirements. In these courses, Challenge students have the assurance of college credit through their PSU enrollment, not based solely on a single high stakes exam, and they also have the advantage of the AP or IB designation on their high school transcript.