Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 20. State Board of Education
Chapter 131. Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia
7/23/2018

8VAC20-131-51. Requirements for Graduation (Effective with the Students Who Enter the Ninth Grade in the 2018–2019 School Year).

A. The requirements for a student to earn a diploma and graduate from a Virginia high school shall be those in effect when that student enters the ninth grade for the first time. Students shall be awarded a diploma upon graduation from a Virginia high school.

Both the Standard Diploma and the Advanced Studies Diploma shall provide multiple paths toward college, career, and citizenship readiness for students to follow in the later years of high school. Each such pathway shall provide meaningful and rigorous opportunities tied to instruction to achieve workplace and citizenship skills through experiences such as internships, externships, credentialing, and blended learning, which may be offered for credit toward high school graduation.

In accordance with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate approved by the board, the instructional program leading to a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma shall ensure that students (i) attain the knowledge, skills, competencies, and experiences necessary to be successful in the evolving global economy whether immediately entering the world of work or pursuing a postsecondary education and (ii) acquire and be able to demonstrate foundational skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship.

When students below the ninth grade successfully complete courses offered for credit in grades 9 through 12, credit shall be counted toward meeting the standard units required for graduation provided the courses are equivalent in content and academic rigor as those courses offered at the secondary level. To earn a verified unit of credit for these courses, students must meet the requirements of 8VAC20-131-110.

The requirements in this section shall be the only requirements for a diploma, unless a local school board has prescribed additional requirements that have been approved by the board. All additional requirements prescribed by local school boards that have been approved by the board remain in effect until such time as the local school board submits a request to the board to amend or discontinue them.

B. Requirements for a Standard Diploma.

1. Beginning with the ninth-grade class of 2018–2019 and beyond, students shall earn the required standard and verified units of credit described in subdivision 2 of this subsection.

2. Credits required for graduation with a Standard Diploma.

A "standard unit of credit" or "standard credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes 140 clock hours of instruction and the requirements of the course. Local school boards may develop alternatives to the requirement for 140 clock hours of instruction as provided for in 8VAC20-131-110 and in accordance with board guidelines.

A "verified unit of credit" or "verified credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which a student earns a standard unit of credit and (i) achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test; (ii) achieves a passing score on an additional test, as defined in 8VAC20-131-5 as part of the Virginia Assessment Program; (iii) meets the criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit conferred in accordance with board criteria and guidelines as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 3 when the student has not passed a corresponding SOL test in English, mathematics, laboratory science, or history and social science; (iv) meets the criteria for the receipt of a verified credit for history and social science by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on an authentic performance assessment, as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 4; or (v) meets the criteria for the receipt of a verified credit for English (writing) by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on authentic performance assessments as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 5.

No more than one locally awarded verified credit may be used to satisfy these requirements, except as provided in subdivision 3 of this subsection for credit accommodations for students with disabilities.

Discipline Area

Standard Units of Credit Required

Verified Credits Required

English (reading and writing)

4

2

Mathematics

3

1

Laboratory Science

3

1

History and Social Science

3

1

Health and Physical Education

2

World Language, Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education

2

Economics and Personal Finance

1

Electives

4

Total

22

5

Discipline Area

Specifications

Mathematics

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two different course selections from among: algebra I, geometry, algebra functions, and data analysis, algebra II, or other mathematics courses approved by the board to satisfy this requirement. Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a mathematics course credit.

Laboratory Science

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include course selection from at least two different science disciplines: earth sciences, biology, chemistry, or physics, or completion of the sequence of science courses required for the International Baccalaureate Diploma and shall include interdisciplinary courses that incorporate Standards of Learning content from multiple academic areas. The board shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement. Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a science course credit.

History and Social Science

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include Virginia and U.S. history, Virginia and U.S. government, and one course in either world history or geography or both. The board shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement.

Laboratory Science, and History and Social Science

Students who complete a career and technical education program sequence and pass an examination or occupational competency assessment in a career and technical education field that confers certification or an occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, or trade or professional association, or acquires a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia may substitute the certification, competency credential, or license for either a laboratory science or history and social science verified credit when the certification, license, or credential confers more than one verified credit. The examination or occupational competency assessment must be approved by the board as an additional test to verify student achievement.

World Language, Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education

Per the Standards of Quality, credits earned for this requirement shall include one credit in fine or performing arts or career and technical education. Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a career and technical course credit.

Electives

Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality.

Additional Requirements for Graduation

Advanced Placement, Honors, or International Baccalaureate Course or Career and Technical Education Credential

In accordance with the Standards of Quality, students shall either (i) complete an Advanced Placement, honors, or International Baccalaureate course, or (ii) earn a career and technical education credential approved by the board, except when a career and technical education credential in a particular subject area is not readily available or appropriate or does not adequately measure student competency, in which case the student shall receive satisfactory competency-based instruction in the subject area to satisfy the standard diploma requirements. The career and technical education credential, when required, could include the successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia workplace readiness assessment.

Virtual Course

Students shall successfully complete one virtual course, which may be a non-credit-bearing course or a required or elective credit-bearing course that is offered online.

Training in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED)

Students shall be trained in emergency first aid, CPR, and the use of AED, including hands-on practice of the skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Students with an IEP or 504 Plan that documents that they cannot successfully complete this training shall be granted a waiver from this graduation requirement, as provided in 8VAC20-131-420 B.

Demonstration of the five Cs

Students shall acquire and demonstrate foundational skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship in accordance with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate approved by the board.

3. The board shall establish through guidelines credit accommodations to the standard and verified credit requirements for a Standard Diploma. Such credit accommodations for students with disabilities may include:

a. Approval of alternative courses to meet the standard credit requirements;

b. Modifications to the requirements for local school divisions to award locally awarded verified credits;

c. Approval of additional tests to earn a verified credit;

d. Adjusted cut scores required to earn verified credit; and

e. Allowance of work-based learning experiences.

The student's IEP or 504 Plan shall specify any credit accommodations applicable for the student.

Students completing the requirements for the Standard Diploma may be eligible to receive an honor deemed appropriate by the local school board as described in subsection H of this section.

C. Requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma.

1. Beginning with the ninth-grade class of 2018–2019 and beyond, students shall earn the required standard and verified units of credit described in subdivision 2 of this subsection.

2. Credits required for graduation with an Advanced Studies Diploma.

A "standard unit of credit" or "standard credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes 140 clock hours of instruction and the requirements of the course. Local school boards may develop alternatives to the requirement for 140 clock hours of instruction as provided for in 8VAC20-131-110 and in accordance with board guidelines.

A "verified unit of credit" or "verified credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which a student earns a standard unit of credit and (i) achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test; (ii) achieves a passing score on an additional test, as defined in 8VAC20-131-5, as part of the Virginia Assessment Program; (iii) meets the criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit conferred in accordance with board criteria and guidelines as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 3 when the student has not passed a corresponding SOL test in English, mathematics, laboratory science, or history and social science; (iv) meets the criteria for the receipt of a verified credit for history and social science by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on an authentic performance assessment, as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 4; or (v) meets the criteria for the receipt of a verified credit for English (writing) by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on an authentic performance assessment, as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 5.

No more than one locally awarded verified credit may be used to satisfy these requirements.

Discipline Area

Standard Units of Credit Required

Verified Credits Required

English (reading and writing)

4

2

Mathematics

4

1

Laboratory Science

4

1

History and Social Science

4

1

World Language

3

Health and Physical Education

2

Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education

1

Economics and Personal Finance

1

Electives

3

Total

26

5

Discipline Area

Specifications

Mathematics

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include at least three different course selections from among: algebra I, geometry, algebra II, or other mathematics courses above the level of algebra II. The board shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement. Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a mathematics course credit.

Laboratory Science

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include course selections from at least three different science disciplines from among: earth sciences, biology, chemistry, or physics or completion of the sequence of science courses required for the International Baccalaureate Diploma and shall include interdisciplinary courses that incorporate Standards of Learning content from multiple academic areas. The board shall approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement. Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a science course credit.

History and Social Science

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include Virginia and U.S. history, Virginia and U.S. government, and two courses in either world history or geography or both. The board shall approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement.

World Language

Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include three years of one language or two years of two languages.

Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education

Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a career and technical credit.

Electives

Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality.

Additional Requirements for Graduation

Advanced Placement, Honors, or International Baccalaureate Course or Career and Technical Education Credential

In accordance with the Standards of Quality, students shall either (i) complete an Advanced Placement, honors, or International Baccalaureate course or (ii) earn a career and technical education credential approved by the board, except when a career and technical education credential in a particular subject area is not readily available or appropriate or does not adequately measure student competency, in which case the student shall receive satisfactory competency-based instruction in the subject area to satisfy the advanced studies diploma requirements. The career and technical education credential, when required, could include the successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia workplace readiness assessment.

Virtual Course

Students shall successfully complete one virtual course, which may be a non-credit-bearing course or a required or elective credit-bearing course that is offered online.

Training in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED).

Students shall be trained in emergency first aid, CPR, and the use of AED, including hands-on practice of the skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Students with an IEP or 504 Plan that documents that they cannot successfully complete this training shall be granted a waiver from this graduation requirement, as provided in 8VAC20-131-420 B.

Demonstration of the five Cs

Students shall acquire and demonstrate foundational skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship in accordance with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate approved by the board.

D. Requirements for an Applied Studies Diploma. In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, a student with disabilities who completes the requirements of the student's IEP and does not meet the requirements for other diplomas shall be awarded Applied Studies Diplomas in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations regarding special education.

Students who pursue an Applied Studies Diploma shall be allowed to pursue a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma at any time during high school. Such students shall not be excluded from courses or tests required to earn these diplomas.

E. Requirements for Certificates of Program Completion. In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, students who complete prescribed programs of studies defined by the local school board but do not qualify for a Standard Diploma, an Advanced Studies Diploma, or an Applied Studies Diploma shall be awarded Certificates of Program Completion. The requirements for Certificates of Program Completion are developed by local school boards in accordance with the Standards of Quality.

F. In accordance with the provisions of the compulsory attendance law and 8VAC20-30, Regulations Governing Adult High School Programs, students who do not qualify for diplomas may earn a high school equivalency credential. The requirements for the General Achievement Adult High School Diploma are provided in 8VAC20-30-20.

G. At a student's request, the local school board shall communicate or otherwise make known to institutions of higher education, potential employers, or other applicable third parties, in a manner that the local school board deems appropriate, that a student has attained the state's academic expectations by earning a Virginia diploma and that the value of such a diploma is not affected in any way by the accreditation status of the student's school.

H. Awards for exemplary student performance. Students who demonstrate academic excellence and outstanding achievement may be eligible for one or more of the following awards:

1. The Governor's Seal shall be awarded to students who complete the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of "B" or better and successfully complete college-level coursework that shall earn the student at least nine transferable college credits in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge, or dual enrollment courses.

2. The Board of Education Seal shall be awarded to students who complete the requirements for a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of "A."

3. The Board of Education's Career and Technical Education Seal shall be awarded to students who earn a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma and complete a prescribed sequence of courses in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that they choose and maintain a "B" or better average in those courses or (i) pass an examination or an occupational competency assessment in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that confers certification or occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade, or professional association or (ii) acquire a professional license in that career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The board shall approve all professional licenses and examinations used to satisfy these requirements.

4. The Board of Education's Seal of Advanced Mathematics and Technology shall be awarded to students who earn either a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma and (i) satisfy all of the mathematics requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma with a "B" average or better and (ii) pass an examination in a career and technical education field that confers certification from a recognized industry, or trade or professional association; acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia; or pass an examination approved by the board that confers college-level credit in a technology or computer science area. The board shall approve all professional licenses and examinations used to satisfy these requirements.

5. The Board of Education's Seal for Excellence in Civics Education shall be awarded to students who earn either a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma and (i) complete Virginia and United States history and Virginia and United States government courses with a grade of "B" or higher; (ii) have good attendance and no disciplinary infractions as determined by local school board policies; and (iii) complete 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities. Activities that satisfy the requirements of clause (iii) of this subdivision include (a) volunteering for a charitable or religious organization that provides services to the poor, sick, or less fortunate; (b) participating in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or similar youth organizations; (c) participating in JROTC; (d) participating in political campaigns or government internships, or Boys State, Girls State, or Model General Assembly; or (e) participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities that have a civics focus. Any student who enlists in the United States military prior to graduation shall be deemed to have met this community service requirement.

6. The Board of Education's Seal of Biliteracy shall be awarded to students who demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one other language and meet additional criteria established by the board.

7. The Board of Education's Seal for Excellence in Science and the Environment shall be awarded to students who earn either a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma and (i) complete at least three different first-level board-approved laboratory science courses and at least one rigorous advanced-level or postsecondary-level laboratory science course, each with a grade of "B" or higher; (ii) complete laboratory or field-science research and present that research in a formal, juried setting; and (iii) complete at least 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities that involve the application of science such as environmental monitoring, protection, management, or restoration.

8. Students may receive other seals or awards for exceptional academic, career and technical, citizenship, or other exemplary performance in accordance with criteria defined by the local school board.

I. Students completing graduation requirements in a summer school program shall be eligible for a diploma. The last school attended by the student during the regular session shall award the diploma unless otherwise agreed upon by the principals of the two schools.

J. Students who complete Advanced Placement courses, college-level courses, or courses required for an International Baccalaureate Diploma shall be deemed to have completed the course requirements for graduation under these standards provided they have earned the total number of standard units of credit and verified units of credit in each discipline area in accordance with the requirements for the Standard Diploma and the Advanced Studies Diploma, as specified in subsections B and C of this section.

K. Students shall be counseled annually regarding the opportunities for using additional tests for earning verified credits, as provided in accordance with the provisions of 8VAC20-131-110, and the consequences of failing to fulfill the obligations to complete the requirements for verified units of credit.

Statutory Authority

§§ 22.1-16 and 22.1-253.13:3 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 34, Issue 08, eff. January 11, 2018.

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