Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
2/28/2021

Part I. Definitions and Purpose

8VAC20-131-5. Definitions.

The following words and terms apply only to this chapter and do not supersede those definitions used for federal reporting purposes or for the calculation of costs related to the Standards of Quality (§ 22.1-253.13:1 et seq. of the Code of Virginia). When used in this chapter, these words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Accreditation" means a process used by the Virginia Department of Education to evaluate the performance of public schools in accordance with this chapter.

"Additional test" means a test, including substitute tests approved by the board, that students may use in lieu of a Standards of Learning test to obtain verified credit.

"Authentic performance assessment" means a test that complies with guidelines adopted by the board that requires students to perform a task or create a product that is typically scored using a rubric. An authentic performance assessment may be used to confer verified credit in accordance with the provisions of 8VAC20-131-110 B 4.

"Board of Education" or "board" means the board responsible for the general supervision of the public schools system in Virginia as prescribed in Section 4 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Virginia and § 22.1-8 of the Code of Virginia.

"Class period" means a segment of time during the instructional day that is allocated to lessons, courses, testing and assessments, or other instructional activities and excludes homeroom.

"Credit accommodations" means adjustments to meet the standard and verified credit requirements for earning a Standard Diploma for students with disabilities.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Education.

"Elementary school" means a public school with any grades kindergarten through 5.

"English learner" or "EL" means, as prescribed in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 89-10, as amended), an individual:

1. Who is aged three through 21 years;

2. Who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;

3. a. Who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English;

b. (1) Who is a Native American or Alaska native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and

(2) Who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency; or

c. Who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and

4. Whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual the:

a. Ability to meet the challenging state academic standards;

b. Ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or

c. Opportunity to participate fully in society.

"Enrollment" means the act of complying with state and local requirements relative to the registration or admission of a child for attendance in a school within a local school division. This term also means registration for courses within the student's home school or within related schools or programs.

"First time" means the student has not been enrolled in the school at any time during the current school year (for purposes of 8VAC20-131-60 with reference to students who transfer in during the school year).

"Four core academic areas" means English, mathematics, science, and history and social science for purposes of testing for the Standards of Learning.

"Graduate" means a student who has earned a board recognized diploma, which includes the Advanced Studies Diploma, the Standard Diploma, and the Applied Studies Diploma.

"Growth" or "student growth" means student progress toward achievement as demonstrated through a valid and reliable measure.

"Homebound instruction" means academic instruction provided to students who are confined at home or in a health care facility for periods of time that prevent normal school attendance, based upon certification of need by a licensed physician or a licensed clinical psychologist.

"Instructional day" means all the time in a standard school day, from the beginning of the first scheduled class period to the end of the last scheduled class period, including passing time for class changes and excluding breaks for meals.

"Instructional hours" means the hours in a standard school day, from the beginning of the first scheduled class period to the end of the last scheduled class period, including passing time for class changes and excluding breaks for meals.

"Locally awarded verified credit" means a verified unit of credit awarded by a local school board in accordance with 8VAC20-131-110 B 3.

"Middle school" means a public school with any grades 6 through 8.

"Planning period" means a segment of time in middle and secondary schools during the instructional day that is unencumbered of any teaching or supervisory duties, is not less than 45 minutes or the equivalent of a class period, whichever is greater, and that includes passing time for class changes.

"Planning time" means a segment of time for elementary teachers that provides at least an average of 30 minutes per day for planning during the student's school week as provided in § 22.1-291.1 of the Code of Virginia.

"Recess" means a segment of unstructured recreational time exclusive of time provided for meals during the standard school day.

"Reporting group" means a subgroup of students who are identified as having common characteristics such as students identified as belonging to major racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and English learners.

"School" means a publicly funded institution where students are enrolled for all or a majority of the instructional day and:

1. Those students are reported in fall membership at the institution; and

2. At a minimum, the institution meets the preaccreditation eligibility requirements of this chapter as adopted by the board.

"Secondary school" means a public school with any grades 9 through 12.

"Standard school day" means a calendar day, including passing time for class changes and excluding breaks for meals, that averages a minimum of five and one-half instructional hours for students in grades 1 through 12 and a minimum of three instructional hours for students in kindergarten. Recess may be included in the calculation of required instructional hours for elementary school, provided that recess does not exceed 15% of the required instructional hours.

"Standard school year" means a school year of at least 180 teaching days or a total of at least 990 instructional hours per year, as specified in § 22.1-98 of the Code of Virginia.

"Standard unit of credit" or "standard credit" means 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.

"Standards of Learning tests" or "SOL tests" means those criterion referenced assessments approved by the board for use in the Virginia Assessment Program that measure attainment of knowledge and skills required by the Standards of Learning.

"Standards of Quality" means the Standards of Quality prescribed in Chapter 13.2 (§ 22.1-253.13:1 et seq.) of Title 22.1 of the Code of Virginia.

"Student" means a person of school age as defined by § 22.1-1 of the Code of Virginia, a child with disabilities as defined in § 22.1-213 of the Code of Virginia, and a person for whom English is a second language in accordance with § 22.1-5 of the Code of Virginia.

"Verified unit of credit" or "verified credit" means 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 this section 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; or (iv) 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 4.

"Virginia Assessment Program" means a system used to evaluate student achievement that includes SOL tests and additional tests that may be approved from time to time by the board.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006; amended, Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 31, 2009; Volume 31, Issue 05, eff. December 3, 2014; Volume 31, Issue 26, eff. October 8, 2015; Volume 34, Issue 08, eff. January 11, 2018; Volume 35, Issue 25, eff. September 19, 2019.

8VAC20-131-10. Purpose.

The foremost purpose of public education in Virginia is to provide children with a high quality education giving them opportunities to meet their fullest potential in life. The standards for the accreditation of public schools in Virginia are designed to ensure that an effective educational program is established and maintained in Virginia's public schools. The mission of the public education system is to educate students in the essential knowledge and skills in order that they may be equipped for citizenship, work, and an informed and successful life.

The Standards of Accreditation provide the foundation for the provision of a high quality public education within a system of accountability and continuous improvement. They are intended to:

1. Provide an essential foundation of educational programs of high quality in all schools for all students.

2. Encourage and promote school quality and acknowledge achievement and continuous improvements by schools and school divisions in multiple areas.

3. Foster public confidence that graduating students have mastered multiple areas of learning to include academic subjects, workplace skills, career exploration and planning, and civic and community responsibility.

4. Assure recognition of Virginia's public schools by other institutions of learning.

5. Establish the means of determining the effectiveness of schools as prescribed in the Standards of Quality at § 22.1-253.13:3 of the Code of Virginia, including student learning and progress and student outcomes for multiple areas affecting school quality.

Section 22.1-253.13:3 A of the Code of Virginia requires the board promulgate regulations establishing standards for accreditation, which shall include student outcome measures, requirements and guidelines for instructional programs and for the integration of educational technology into such instructional programs, administrative and instructional staffing levels and positions, including staff positions for supporting educational technology, student services, auxiliary education programs such as library and media services, course and credit requirements for graduation from high school, community relations, and the philosophy, goals, and objectives of public education in Virginia.

The statutory authority for this chapter is delineated in § 22.1-19 of the Code of Virginia, which includes the requirement that the board shall provide for the accreditation of public elementary, middle, and secondary schools in accordance with regulations prescribed by it.

This chapter governs public schools operated by local school boards providing instruction to students as defined in 8VAC20-131-5. Other schools licensed under other state statutes are exempt from these requirements.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 14, Issue 01, eff. October 29, 1997; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 25, eff. September 28, 2000; Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006; Volume 31, Issue 26, eff. October 8, 2015; Volume 34, Issue 08, eff. January 11, 2018.

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