305P - High School Graduation Requirements

Generally
The Board of Education has established educational objectives known as the Standards of Learning (SOLs), which form the core of Virginia’s educational program, and other education objectives, which together are designed to ensure the development of the skills that are necessary for success in school and in preparation for life in the years beyond.

The School Board has developed and implemented a program of instruction that is aligned to the Standards of Learning and that meets or exceeds the requirements of the Board of Education. It awards diplomas to all secondary school students, including students who transfer from non-public schools or from home instruction, who meet the requirements prescribed by the Board of Education.

The School Board awards diplomas and certificates in accordance with state laws and regulations. The requirements for a student to earn a diploma and graduate from high school are those in effect when the student enters ninth grade for the first time.

Virginia Assessment Program
In kindergarten through eighth grade, where the administration of Virginia Assessment Program tests are required by the Board of Education, each student is expected to take the tests following instruction. Students who are accelerated take the test aligned with the highest grade level, following instruction in the content. No student takes more than one test in any content area in each year, except in the case of expedited retakes as provided for in 8 VAC 20-131-30. Schools use the test results in kindergarten through eighth grade as part of a set of multiple criteria for determining the promotion or retention of students.

Each student in middle and secondary school takes all applicable end-of-course SOL tests following course instruction. The superintendent certifies 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 will be awarded a verified unit of credit in that course in accordance with 8 VAC 20-131-110. Students may earn verified credits in any courses for which end-of-course SOL tests are available. Students are not 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.

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

Any student identified as an English Learner (EL) participates in the Virginia Assessment Program. A school-based committee convenes and makes 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.

Definitions
Authentic Performance Assessment- An “Authentic Performance Assessment” is a test that complies with guidelines adopted by the Board of Education that requires students to perform a task or create a product that is typically scored using a rubric.

Standard Unit of Credit- 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. A standard unit of credit may be awarded based on a waiver of the 140 clock hour requirement as provided in Policy 312P, Instruction- Locally Awarded Verified Credits.

Verified Unit of Credit- 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 completes one of the following:
  • Achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test.
  • Achieves a passing score on an additional test, as defined in 8 VAC 20-131-5, as a part of the Virginia Assessment Program.
  • Meets the criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit when the student has not passed a corresponding SOL test.
  • Meets the criteria for the receipt of a verified credit in history and social science by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on an authentic performance assessment that complies with guidelines adopted by the Board of Education.
  • 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 that complies with guidelines adopted by the Board of Education.

  • Students may also earn verified credits by taking alternative tests to the SOL assessment. Such tests may only be those approved by the Virginia Board of Education, and the student may earn verified credits only by achieving that score established by the Board of Education.

    Virginia Assessment Program- The “Virginia Assessment Program” is 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 of Education.



    Legal Reference(s):
    Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, Section(s) 22.1 253.13:1, 22.1-253.13:4.

    8 VAC 20-131-5.

    8 VAC 20-131-30.

    8 VAC 20-131-50.

    8 VAC 20-131-51.

    8 VAC 20-131-110.

    Guidelines for Graduation Requirements; Local Alternative Paths to Standard Units of Credit (Virginia Board of Education Oct. 2015).

    Cross Reference(s):
    301P, Instruction- Instructional Goals and Objectives
    312P, Instruction- Locally Awarded Verified Credits


    Adopted: February 6, 1990
    Amended: June 19, 1995
    Amended: December 18, 1995
    Amended: April 28, 1997
    Amended: June 15, 1998
    Amended: July 7, 1998
    Amended: July 6, 1999
    Amended: May 15, 2001
    Amended: June 16, 2020