Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
5/18/2021

Part III. Student Achievement

8VAC20-131-30. Student achievement expectations.

A. Each student should learn the relevant grade level/course subject matter before promotion to the next grade. The division superintendent shall certify to the Department of Education that the division's promotion and retention policy does not exclude students from membership in a grade, or participation in a course, in which SOL tests are to be administered. Each school shall have a process, as appropriate, to identify and recommend strategies to address the learning, behavior, communication, or development of individual children who are having difficulty in the educational setting.

B. In kindergarten through eighth grade, where the administration of Virginia Assessment Program tests is required by the board, each student shall be expected to take the tests following instruction. Students who are accelerated shall take the test aligned with the highest grade level, following instruction in the content. No student shall take more than one test in any content area in each year, except in the case of expedited retakes as provided for in this section. Schools shall use the Virginia Assessment Program test results in kindergarten through eighth grade as part of a set of multiple criteria for determining the promotion or retention of students. Students promoted to high school from eighth grade should have attained basic mastery of the Standards of Learning in English, history and social science, mathematics, and science and should be prepared for high school work. Students shall not be required to retake the Virginia Assessment Program tests unless they are retained in grade and have not previously passed the related tests.

The board shall provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any SOL test, with the exception of the writing SOL tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course.

C. In kindergarten through grade 12, students may participate in a remediation recovery program as established by the board in English (reading) or mathematics or both.

D. The board recommends that students in kindergarten through grade 8 not be required to attend summer school or weekend remediation classes solely based on failing a SOL test in science or history and social science. However, any student who fails to achieve a passing score on all Standard of Learning assessments for the relevant grade level in grades 3 through 8 shall be required to attend a remediation program or to participate in another form of remediation. Further, any student who fails an end-of-course test required for the award of a verified unit of credit shall be required to attend a remediation program or to participate in another form of remediation.

E. Each student in middle and secondary schools shall take all applicable end-of-course SOL tests following course instruction. The division superintendent shall certify to the Department of Education that the division's policy for dropping courses ensures that students' course schedules are not changed to avoid end-of-course SOL tests. Students who achieve a passing score on an end-of-course SOL test shall be awarded a verified unit of credit in that course in accordance with the provisions of 8VAC20-131-110. Students may earn verified units of credit in any courses for which end-of-course SOL tests are available. Students shall not be required to take an end-of-course SOL test in an academic subject after they have earned the number of verified credits required for that academic content area for graduation, unless such test is necessary in order for the school to meet federal accountability requirements. Middle and secondary schools may consider the student's end-of-course SOL test score in determining the student's final course grade. However, no student who has failed an end-of-course SOL test but passed the related course shall be prevented from taking any other course in a content area and from taking the applicable end-of-course SOL test. The board may approve additional tests to verify student achievement in accordance with guidelines adopted for verified units of credit described in 8VAC20-131-110.

F. Participation in the Virginia Assessment Program by students with disabilities shall be prescribed by provisions of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. All students with disabilities shall be assessed with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments where necessary.

G. Any student identified as an English Learner (EL) shall participate in the Virginia Assessment Program. A school-based committee shall convene and make determinations regarding the participation level of EL students in the Virginia Assessment Program. In kindergarten through eighth grade, EL students may be granted a one-time exemption from SOL testing in the areas of writing and history and social science.

H. Students identified as foreign exchange students taking courses for credit shall be required to take the relevant Virginia Assessment Program tests, as specified in subsection E of this section. Foreign exchange students who are auditing courses are not eligible for academic credit for those courses and shall not be required to take the SOL tests for those courses.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 1, eff. October 29, 1997; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 25, eff. September 28, 2000; Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006; Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 31, 2009; Volume 31, Issue 26, eff. October 8, 2015; Volume 34, Issue 8, eff. January 11, 2018.

8VAC20-131-40. (Repealed.)

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 1, eff. October 29, 1997; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 25, eff. September 28, 2000; repealed, Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006.

8VAC20-131-50. Requirements for graduation (effective for the students entering ninth grade prior to 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.

The Advanced Studies Diploma shall be the recommended diploma for students pursuing baccalaureate study. Both the Standard Diploma and the Advanced Studies Diploma shall prepare students for postsecondary education and the career readiness required by the Commonwealth's economy.

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 following requirements 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 2013–2014 and through the ninth-grade class of 2017–2018, 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.

Discipline Area

Standard Units of Credit Required

Verified Credits Required

English

4

2

Mathematics1

3

1

Laboratory Science2,6

3

1

History and Social Sciences3,6

3

1

Health and Physical Education

2

World Language, Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education7

2

Economics and Personal Finance

1

Electives4

4

Student Selected Test5

1

Career and Technical Education Credential8

Total9

22

6

1Courses 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 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.

2Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include course selections 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. 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.

3Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include U.S. and Virginia History, U.S. and Virginia Government, and one course in either world history or geography or both. The board shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement.

4Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality.

5A student may utilize additional tests for earning verified credit in computer science, technology, career and technical education, economics or other areas as prescribed by the board in 8VAC20-131-110.

6Students 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 acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia may substitute the certification, competency credential, or license for (i) the student-selected verified credit and (ii) either a 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.

7Pursuant to § 22.1-253.13:4 of the Code of Virginia, 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 education course credit.

8Students shall earn a career and technical education credential approved by the Board of Education, 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.

9Students shall successfully complete one virtual course, which may be a noncredit-bearing course or a required or elective credit-bearing course that is offered online.

Beginning with first-time ninth-grade students in the 2016–2017 school year, students shall be trained in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of automated external defibrillators, including hands-on practice of the skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Students with an Individualized Education Program (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.

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 that are applicable.

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 2013–2014 and through the ninth-grade class of 2017–2018, 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.

Discipline Area

Standard Units of Credit Required

Verified Credits Required

English

4

2

Mathematics1

4

2

Laboratory Science2

4

2

History and Social Sciences3

4

2

World Language4

3

Health and Physical Education

2

Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education5

1

Economics and Personal Finance

1

Electives

3

Student Selected Test 6

1

Total 7

26

9

1Courses 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.

2Courses 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. 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.

3Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include U.S. and Virginia History, U.S. and Virginia Government, and two courses in either world history or geography or both. The board shall approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement.

4Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include three years of one language or two years of two languages.

5Per the Standards of Quality, a computer science course credit earned by students may be considered a career and technical education course credit.

6A student may utilize additional tests for earning verified credit in computer science, technology, career or technical education, economics or other areas as prescribed by the board in 8VAC20-131-110.

7Students shall successfully complete one virtual course, which may be a noncredit-bearing course, or may be a course required to earn this diploma that is offered online.

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

Beginning with first-time ninth-grade students in the 2016–2017 school year, students shall be trained in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of automated external defibrillators, 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.

D. In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their IEP and do not meet the requirements for other diplomas shall be awarded Applied Studies Diplomas.

E. 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.

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 or 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 will 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 (four units of credit including Algebra II; two verified units of credit) with a "B" average or better; and (ii) either (a) pass an examination in a career and technical education field that confers certification from a recognized industry, trade, or professional association; (b) acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia; or (c) 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. Such seal shall be awarded to eligible students graduating from public high schools in the Commonwealth beginning in 2016.

7. 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 requirements for graduation under these standards provided they have earned the standard units of credit and earned verified units of credit 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 Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 1, eff. October 29, 1997; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 25, eff. September 28, 2000; Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006; Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 31, 2009; Volume 27, Issue 24, eff. August 31, 2011; Volume 31, Issue 5, eff. December 3, 2014; Volume 31, Issue 26, eff. October 8, 2015; Volume 34, Issue 8, eff. January 11, 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; 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 authentic performance assessments as provided in 8VAC20-131-110 B 4.

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.

A laboratory science verified credit may be awarded to students who complete a career and technical education program sequence and (i) pass two examinations or occupational competency assessments in a career and technical education field that confers certification or an occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade, or professional association; (ii) acquire two professional licenses in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia; or (iii) pass one examination or competency assessment from clause (i) and acquire one license from clause (ii). The examination or occupational competency assessment must be approved by the board as an additional test to verify student achievement.

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.

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

(i) complete an Advanced Placement, honors, or International Baccalaureate course, or (ii) earn a career and technical

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

In accordance with the Standards of Quality, students shall (i) complete an Advanced Placement, honors, International Baccalaureate, or dual enrollment course; (ii) complete a high-quality work-based learning experience, as established by board guidance on work-based learning; or (iii) 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 individualized education plan (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; 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.

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. A student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language may substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language. For any student who elects to substitute a credit in computer science for a credit in world language, the student's school counselor must provide notice to the student and parent or guardian of possible impacts related to college entrance requirements.

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 (i) complete an Advanced Placement, honors, International Baccalaureate, or dual enrollment course; (ii) complete a high-quality work-based learning experience as established by board guidance on work-based learning; or (iii) 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 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Seal shall be awarded to students who meet criteria established by the board.

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 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 8, eff. January 11, 2018; amended, Virginia Register Volume 35, Issue 25, eff. September 19, 2019; Volume 37, Issue 14, eff. April 15, 2021.

8VAC20-131-60. Transfer students.

A. The provisions of this section pertain generally to students who transfer into Virginia high schools. Students transferring in grades kindergarten through 8 from Virginia public schools or nonpublic schools accredited by one of the approved accrediting constituent members of the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) shall be given recognition for all grade-level work completed. The academic record of students transferring from all other schools shall be evaluated to determine appropriate grade placement in accordance with policies adopted by the local school board. The State Testing Identifier (STI) for students who transfer into a Virginia public school from another Virginia public school shall be retained by the receiving school.

B. For the purposes of this section, the term "beginning" means within the first 20 hours of instruction per course. The term "during" means after the first 20 hours of instruction per course.

C. Standard or verified units of credit earned by a student in a Virginia public school shall be transferable without limitation regardless of the accreditation status of the Virginia public school in which the credits were earned. Virginia public schools shall accept standard and verified units of credit from other Virginia public schools, Virginia's virtual learning program, Virtual Virginia, and state-operated programs. Standard units of credit also shall be accepted for courses satisfactorily completed in accredited colleges and universities when prior written approval of the principal has been granted or the student has been given credit by the previous school attended.

D. A secondary school shall accept credits toward graduation received from Virginia nonpublic schools accredited by one of the approved accrediting constituent members of the VCPE. The board shall maintain contact with the VCPE and may periodically review its accrediting procedures and policies as part of its policies under this section.

Nothing in these standards shall prohibit a public school from accepting standard units of credit toward graduation awarded to students who transfer from all other schools when the courses for which the student receives credit generally match the description of or can be substituted for courses for which the receiving school gives standard credit, and the school from which the child transfers certifies that the courses for which credit is given meet the requirements of 8VAC20-131-110 A.

E. The academic record of a student transferring from other Virginia public schools shall be sent directly to the school receiving the student upon request of the receiving school in accordance with the provisions of 8VAC20-150, Management of the Student's Scholastic Record in the Public Schools of Virginia. The State Testing Identifier (STI) for students who transfer into a Virginia public school from another Virginia public school shall be retained by the receiving school.

F. The academic record of a student transferring into Virginia public schools from other than a Virginia public school shall be evaluated to determine the number of standard units of credit that have been earned, including credit from schools outside the United States, and the number of verified units of credit needed to graduate in accordance with subsection G of this section. Standard units of credit also shall be accepted for courses satisfactorily completed in accredited colleges and universities when the student has been given credit by the previous school attended.

Students transferring above the tenth grade from schools or other education programs that do not require or give credit for health and physical education shall not be required to take these courses to meet graduation requirements.

Students transferring into a Virginia public school from other than a Virginia public school shall earn no fewer than the number of verified units listed in subdivision G 1 or G 2 of this section. The school division shall accept the following tests from the sending state, country, private school, or Department of Defense Educational Activity school for the purpose of awarding verified units of credit in courses previously completed at another school or program of study, for the purpose of awarding a Virginia high school diploma:

1. End-of-course tests required for graduation by the sending state;

2. Exit tests required for graduation by the sending state; and

3. National norm-referenced achievement tests. When students transfer to a Virginia public school from a state that requires a national norm-referenced achievement test, and that state education agency has set a "cut score" or passing score for the purpose of graduation, the school division shall accept the test for the purpose of awarding a verified credit if the test includes some content in a subject for which a verified credit may be awarded. If that state education agency has not set a cut score for the norm-referenced test, the test may not be used for the purpose of awarding a verified credit or earning a high school diploma.

Any substitute test approved by the board for verified credit shall be accepted in lieu of the applicable SOL tests if the applicable standard credit has been earned by the student.

The sending state's test must include content in the subjects for which verified credit is awarded. The test does not have to be comparable to a Virginia SOL test, so long as the test includes some content in the subject area. If the test includes some content from more than one subject, verified credits shall be awarded for every subject area covered by the test.

G. Students entering a Virginia public high school for the first time after the tenth grade shall earn as many credits as possible toward the prescribed graduation requirements. However, schools may substitute courses required in other states in the same content area if the student is unable to meet the specific content requirements of 8VAC20-131-50 or 8VAC20-131-51, respectively, without taking a heavier than normal course load in any semester, by taking summer school, or by taking courses after the time when the student otherwise would have graduated.

The graduation requirements for students transferring into a Virginia high school for the first time shall be as follows:

1. For a Standard Diploma:

a. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the ninth grade prior to the 2018–2019 school year shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the ninth grade in the 2018–2019 school year or thereafter shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51.

b. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the tenth grade prior to the 2019–2020 school year or at the beginning of the eleventh grade prior to the 2020–2021 school year shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of four verified units of credit: one each in English, mathematics, history, and science. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the tenth grade in the 2019–2020 school year or thereafter or at the beginning of the eleventh grade in the 2020–2021 school year or thereafter, shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51.

c. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time during the eleventh grade prior to the 2020–2021 school year or at the beginning of the twelfth grade prior to the 2021–2022 school year shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of two verified units of credit: one in English and one in mathematics if participation in mathematics testing is required by federal law, otherwise, such verified credit may be of the student's own choosing. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time during the eleventh grade in the 2020–2021 school year or thereafter, or at the beginning of twelfth grade in the 2021–2022 school year or thereafter, shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of two verified units of credit: one in English and one in mathematics if participation in mathematics testing is required by federal law, otherwise, such verified credit may be of the student's own choosing.

d. Students transferring after 20 instructional hours per course of their senior or twelfth grade year shall be given every opportunity to earn a diploma following the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50 for students entering prior to the 2021–2022 school year, or following the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51 for students entering in the 2021–2022 school year or thereafter. If it is not possible for the student to meet the requirements for a diploma, arrangements should be made for the student's previous school to award the diploma. If these arrangements cannot be made, a waiver of the verified unit of credit requirements may be available to the student. The Department of Education may grant such waivers upon request by the local school board in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the board.

2. For an Advanced Studies Diploma:

a. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the ninth grade prior to the 2018–2019 school year shall earn credit as prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the ninth grade in the 2018-2019 school year or thereafter shall earn credit as prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51.

b. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the tenth grade prior to the 2019–2020 school year or at the beginning of the eleventh grade prior to the 2020–2021 school year shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of six verified units of credit: two in English and one each in mathematics, history, and science and one of the student's own choosing. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time at the beginning of or during the tenth grade in the 2019–2020 school year or thereafter or at the beginning of the eleventh grade in the 2020–2021 school year or thereafter shall earn credit as prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51.

c. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time during the eleventh grade prior to the 2020–2021 school year or at the beginning of the twelfth grade prior to the 2021–2022 school year shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of four verified units of credit: one in English, one in mathematics if required participation in mathematics testing is required by federal law, otherwise such verified credit may be of the student's own choosing, and two additional verified credits of the student's own choosing. Students entering a Virginia high school for the first time during the eleventh grade in the 2020–2021 school year or thereafter, or at the beginning of the twelfth grade in the 2021–2022 school year or thereafter, shall meet the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51, except that such students shall only be required to earn a minimum of two verified units of credit: one in English, and one in mathematics if required participation in mathematics testing is required by federal law, otherwise such verified credit may be of the student's own choosing.

d. Students transferring after 20 instructional hours per course of their senior or twelfth grade year shall be given every opportunity to earn a diploma following the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-50 for students entering prior to the 2021–2022 school year, or following the graduation requirements prescribed in 8VAC20-131-51 for students entering in the 2021–2022 school year or thereafter. If it is not possible for the student to meet the requirements for a diploma, arrangements should be made for the student's previous school to award the diploma. If these arrangements cannot be made, a waiver of the verified unit of credit requirements may be available to the student. The Department of Education may grant such waivers upon request by the local school board in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the board.

3. For an Applied Studies Diploma: In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their Individualized Education Plan and do 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.

4. For a Certificate 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.

H. Any local school division receiving approval to increase its course credit requirements for a diploma may not deny either the Standard Diploma or the Advanced Studies Diploma to any transfer student who has otherwise met the requirements contained in these standards if the transfer student can only meet the division's additional requirements by taking a heavier than normal course load in any semester, by taking summer school, or by taking courses after the time when the student otherwise would have graduated.

I. The transcript of a student who graduates or transfers from a Virginia secondary school shall conform to the requirements of 8VAC20-160, Regulations Governing Secondary School Transcripts.

J. The accreditation status of a high school shall not be included on the student transcript provided to colleges, universities, or employers. The board expressly states that any student who has met the graduation requirements and has received a Virginia diploma holds a diploma that should be recognized as equal to any other Virginia diploma of the same type, regardless of the accreditation status of the student's high school. It is the express policy of the board that no student shall be affected by the accreditation status of the student's school. The board shall take appropriate action, from time to time, to ensure that no student is affected by the accreditation status of the student's school.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 1, eff. October 29, 1997; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 25, eff. September 28, 2000; Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 7, 2006; Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 31, 2009; Volume 27, Issue 24, eff. August 31, 2011; Volume 31, Issue 5, eff. December 3, 2014; Volume 31, Issue 26, eff. October 8, 2015; Volume 34, Issue 8, eff. January 11, 2018.

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