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PSU Challenge Program :: Program Procedures

This section explains the governance of the Challenge Program: to clarify roles and responsibilities vital to the long-term success of this collaborative partnership, to articulate processes, and to improve communication between schools and the University.

We welcome suggestions and comments so that the Challenge Program will continue to evolve in a way that is most beneficial to students and faculty. We value your support and will continue to work to maintain trust and a sense of common purpose.

For those high school teachers and administrators who are just being introduced to Challenge by virtue of this Web page, we encourage you to contact the Challenge office to set up a meeting to answer your specific questions and go over the details of the program.

For a complete overview of the program, please see the Challenge Program's Procedures Manual for Instructors & Administrators.

Instructors and Administrators

Process Overview

Below is a comprehesive overview about the procedures of the Challenge Program. If you don't find an answer to your specific question, please contact us.

Process Overview

  • An interested high school instructor or administrator makes an initial inquiry to the Challenge Office. 
  • Depending on how much information the person inquiring already has, the director may set up an initial meeting, which might include the school administrator and the faculty coordinator in the department, to meet and go through all program procedures, including eligibility requirements, textbooks, training and workshop requirements. 
  • The instructor submits an application, a vitae, and copy of credentials to the director. These are forwarded to the appropriate Academic Department for approval to teach an identified PSU course. Each Department sets eligibility standards for instructors [Instructor Requirements, p. 7 of the Procedures Manual]. Upon approval, the instructor receives a Letter of Acceptance that includes course information, textbook requirements, orientation and workshop requirements, and confirms their departmental faculty partner. 
  • Courses are regular catalog-listed, 100-200-level courses [Courses Offered, p. 16 of the Procedures Manual]. Some of our courses are taught in sequences corresponding to PSU’s fall, winter, and spring terms (all foreign languages and Western Civilization), most overlay the high school semester, and a few overlay the academic year, depending on what the high school and the PSU department require. 
  • Courses follow the PSU syllabus or a department-approved syllabus and use the required or an approved textbook. The participating school agrees to list the Challenge course by its PSU title in the Student Course Planning Guide. 
  • A new instructor will meet, prior to teaching the PSU course, with his/her PSU faculty partner and the director, for an orientation, which covers syllabus, texts, assessment and grading standards, and administrative procedures. It may also include a visit to the class taught on campus. For new instructors lacking the required experience for teaching the PSU course, some disciplines will require additional meetings, courses, or a mentoring program [Instructor Requirements and Training, p. 7 of the Procedures Manual ]. 
  • Challenge staff is available to visit the school to talk with students/parents and help explain the program. This can be particularly useful during forecasting time and in the fall at back-to-school nights. 
  • At the start of each academic year, instructors receive a packet that includes their annual letter of appointment, paperwork for the PSU Human Resources Dept., and a syllabus template. They return the paperwork and their current syllabus to the Challenge Office. New instructors without a PSU ID number will be issued one, which will enable them to have computer services, library and research access, and tuition remission for continued coursework in the instructor’s content area. 
  • The instructor manages the course registration process. At the start of a course, the instructor receives a packet of materials and instructions, including registration forms and student/parent handbooks. At least 60% of students in the class must enroll as PSU students to ensure rigor and promote identification with PSU. Students are eligible for computer accounts and online library resources. Classes that are 100% enrolled may take full advantage of PSU’s electronic classroom management tools. 
  • Students fill in the registration forms which parents sign, and attach a check for the program fee. Fees are nonrefundable and due at the time of registration. The instructor verifies the students’ GPAs (3.00 cumulative required), collects the completed registration forms and payment, and sends these back to the Challenge Program by the deadline. The Challenge Program works with the University’s Registrar’s Office to admit and register the students into their class(es). 
  • Faculty partners not only provide academic oversight to instructors but are also mentors and colleagues who visit the classroom over the course of the year, typically once per PSU quarter. The instructor and faculty partner discuss how best to utilize the visit; faculty partners have taught or co-taught a class, have worked with a group of students, have been asked to address a particular topic for a guest lecture, etc. [Faculty Partners: Liaison Activities, p. 34 of the Procedures Manual]. 
  • The instructor is required to attend two workshops on campus (fall and spring) organized by their PSU department for content-focused professional development. The Challenge Program reimburses the high school for substitute teachers on those days. Instructors who miss two consecutive workshops will be subject to review by the Faculty Partner and Director. Outcomes may include customized training or de-certification. 
  • High school instructors are strongly encouraged to bring their class to campus. The Challenge Program can assist in arranging a campus tour, a library visit (including an instructional workshop on how to use library online resources, research methods, etc.), a guest lecture, and a visit to the Office of Information Technology to assist in setting up computer accounts. 
  • The instructor will be prompted by the Challenge Program to submit grades at the end of each PSU quarter or at designated dates to correspond with high school semesters [p. 23 of the Procedures Manual]. 
  • Students may order official PSU transcripts once grades have been recorded. There is a detailed explanation on transcripts and transferring credit in their handbooks and on our website, under Useful Links.
  • Students complete an online course evaluation (the same one used for the course taught on campus) at the end of the year. 
  • Faculty Partners provide an end-of-year report to the Program Director. 

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Instructor Requirements

In all cases, approval of Program Instructors is consistent with the selection process employed by University departments in appointing part-time faculty for on-campus classes. Certification to teach a course may be made contingent upon completion of additional graduate coursework, field experience, or a program of structured independent study. Specific department policies for Challenge Program instructors are listed on the following pages, by department.

For Department specific requirements please refer to pp. 7-14 of the Procedures Manual.

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Partners: Liason Activities

A cornerstone of the Challenge Program is the relationship between the high school instructor and a PSU faculty member.  The Faculty Partner from the appropriate department is appointed to work with each high school instructor. The Partner is both mentor and partner. As mentor, the coordinator provides academic oversight, ensuring the course is run effectively and meets departmental criteria. As partner, the instructor and coordinator share information, pursue professional development opportunities (such as workshop participation), and work together to make the course as strong and engaging as possible. Specific responsibilities for the Challenge Program Faculty Coordinator include:

  • To support the instructor in a positive and collegial manner.
  • To provide the new Challenge instructor with a detailed orientation prior to teaching in the Challenge Program to familiarize the instructor with the course syllabus, textbook scope and sequence and expectations for student learning in a college-level course. 
  •  To make site visits once a quarter to each section of a course and write a short site visit report. Site visits may include co-teaching, observing, talking with students or going over student portfolios--depending on what the instructor and coordinator determine would be most useful. In some cases, particularly with new instructors or if it is determined that an instructor needs extra support, we may ask that they increase these visits.
  • To work with the Challenge Program Director in establishing a file for each course, updated annually, which includes a copy of the course syllabus, a list of the text(s) and other books and course materials used for the course, copies of midterms and finals, copies of assignments, and other pertinent information.
  • To evaluate the course and submit an end-of-year report. 
  • To plan and participate in the workshops and training programs. 

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Student Eligibility

  • In order to ensure success (Challenge grades become part of a student’s permanent college record) and to reward students with strong academic records, Challenge participation is limited to students recommended by their counselors and teachers and who have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above, after the completion of six high school semesters.
  • Students not meeting the 3.00 GPA requirement may petition for admission by completing the waiver form which includes a list of the student’s courses and grades in the subject area, his/her PSAT/SAT or ACT scores, a written statement by the student defending the petition, and signatures by the student, parent or guardian, and school counselor. This must be attached to the student’s registration form with the program fee in order to be considered. If the petition is denied, the student will receive an explanatory note with the returned check.
  • Course offerings are normally restricted to high school seniors. Exceptions to this policy require prior approval from the Challenge Director and Faculty Coordinator.
  • It is very important that members of the counseling department be thoroughly familiar with the requirements, objectives, and design of each course and that they work closely with teachers in advising prospective students to register for courses offered through the Challenge Program. This is important to ensure our students are adequately prepared for college-level work.

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Matching PSU Quarters to Semesters

Because PSU is on the quarter system and many of our high schools are on the semester system, there are a variety of ways we have worked with high schools to determine how to cover course material—e.g., superimpose three quarters onto two semesters, match up a quarter with a semester, teach one quarter over the course of an entire academic year. The decision is partly based on the high school’s needs and interests and partly determined by the department. 

All foreign language classes and most of our Western Civilization courses are taught exactly as on campus. Students register and pay the program fee three times a year (fall, winter, and spring) and earn 12 college credits.

The majority of our other courses are taught in sequences of two quarters which overlay the high school semesters. In these cases, students register and pay twice a year and earn 8 college credits. This can be confusing for parents who have students taking both a 3-sequenced class such as Spanish as well as a 2-sequenced class such as calculus. 

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Class Composition and Size

  • In programs like the Challenge Program, experience has shown that students who are not enrolled for college credit affect the motivation of the entire class. For this reason, the Challenge Program expects that in any one section of a course a minimum of 60% of those registered must be taking the course for Portland State University credit.
  • Total class size for Challenge Program classes ideally should be lower than that for regular high school courses, due to the rigor and preparation demanded of the teacher. We strongly recommend that classes not exceed 30. For Writing classes, class size should be limited to a maximum of 25 students, which is the same requirement we have for our on-campus writing classes.

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Registration, Drop, Grading, & Plagiarism Policy

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