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Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Graduation Requirements Frequently Asked Questions

High school graduation is a highlight in every student's life - a celebration marking the successful completion of 13 years of education. To ensure that our students fulfill all the necessary requirements to graduate, parents/guardians are encouraged to track and monitor the number of standard credits and verified credits their children have earned beginning with entry into the ninth grade. This can be accomplished by staying in touch with your child's assigned school counselor during their academic careers. Counselors can also help families understand school requirements and access the resources that are available to support students.

Graduation requirements are distributed to all Virginia Beach City Public Schools' students at the start of each school year via the parent/student handbooks (grades K-5), school planners (grades 6-12) and the Secondary School Curriculum Guide (grades 6-12). The school division's regulation 5-30.1 is also available as a resource for graduation requirements.

The following questions and answers are intended to assist you with keeping your child on track for their graduation requirements. If you have additional questions, please schedule a meeting or a consultation with your child's school counselor.

What are the graduation requirements in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Students pursuing a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma must earn both standard and verified credits if they are to graduate from high school and participate in graduation ceremonies. Other options available to special education students in addition to these diplomas are the Modified Standard Diploma and the Applied Studies Diploma. To determine the graduation requirements for your child, you must consider both the type of diploma sought and the year your child first started ninth grade.

What is the difference between a standard credit and a verified credit?

A standard unit of credit is awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes the requirements of the course. A verified unit of credit is awarded for a course in which the student earns a standard unit of credit and achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test or a substitute assessment approved by the Board of Education.

How does the appeal process allow students to obtain locally awarded verified credits for Standard Diploma?

A process exists to assist students seeking a standard diploma who have not met the verified credit requirements for a standard diploma. The School Board may award local verified credits for the student-selected verified credits required for the Standard Diploma. This process DOES NOT apply to the awarding of the two (2) verified credits in English, also required for graduation, or to any verified credit a student wants to earn for mathematics. Any English or mathematics verified credits must be earned by passing the high school courses and the Standards of Learning tests (or approved substitute tests). Local verified credits awarded through this process CANNOT be used if the student changes to the Advanced Diploma track. Local verified credits can only be awarded in science and history/social science.

Students can apply for local verified credits in the first semester of their senior year for courses taken in previous grades. (Except when a student takes the appropriate SOL test as a senior.) Application can be made during the second semester or during summer session if the senior takes the appropriate SOL test during the senior year. To be eligible to earn locally awarded verified credits in science or history/social science under these guidelines, a senior must:

  1. Enter the ninth grade for the first time in school year 2003-04.
  2. Meet the following requirements:
    1. Pass the high school course that corresponds to the failed SOL test
    2. Not pass the related Standards of Learning or approved substitute test
    3. Score within a designated range (375-399) on the Standards of Learning test
  3. Earn fewer than four of the student-selected verified credits required for the Standard Diploma.
  4. Score within a 375-399 scale score range on any administration of the Standards of Learning test after taking the test at least twice without passing on any administration.

A student may be awarded no more than four verified credits through the above process. Another restriction is that the guidelines outlined above MAY NOT be used to award verified credits for the Advanced Diploma.

What credits are required for a Standard Diploma for students entering the ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond?

The credits required for a Standard Diploma for students entering the ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond are listed below. The Standard Diploma requires 22 (22) credits for students entering ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond. Completion of one virtual course as well as successful completion of a Career and Technical Industry Certification. Of the 22 credits, six (6) must be verified credits as follows: two (2) English, one (1) math, one (1) science, one (1) social studies, and one (1) student-selected test students must have to graduate.

Standard Diploma/Subject Area Standard
Units of Credit
Verified
Units of Credit
English* 4 2
Mathematics 3 1
Science** 3 1
History & Social Science** 3 1
Health & Physical Education 2 0
World Languages, Fine Arts, or Career & Technical Education 2 0
Economics and Personal Finance 1 0
Virtual Course (obtained through coursework) 0 0
CTE Industry Certification 0 0
Electives Credits (Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality) 4 0
Student Selected Tests*** 0 1
Total 22 6

* Students usually earn one standard credit and the two verified credits through the English 11 class.

** Students who complete a career and technical educational 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 (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 Virginia Board of Education as an additional test to verify student achievement.

*** Students may choose a verified credit earned in an academic class or may choose a verified credit earned in a Virginia Board of Education approved test in computer science, technology and career and technical education.

What are the specific units of credit requirements to fulfill the 22 credits for a student seeking a Standard Diploma?

Specific units of credit required for a Standard Diploma are outlined below:

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 above the level of Algebra II. The Virginia Board of Education shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement.

Laboratory Sciences- Courses completed to meet this requirement shall include course selections from at least two different science disciplines: earth sciences, biology, chemistry or physics (Note: Oceanography and Astronomy are in the Earth Sciences discipline). The Virginia Board of Education may approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement.

History and Social Sciences- 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 Virginia Board of Education may approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement.

Sequential electives- These electives can be chosen from a concentration of courses selected from a variety of options (fine arts, world languages, or career and technical education) that may be planned to ensure the completion of a focused sequence of elective courses. Students may take such focused sequence of elective courses in consecutive years or any two years of high school. Such focused sequence of elective courses shall provide a foundation for further education or training or preparation for employment. Sequential electives need not be taken in consecutive years. They MAY NOT be taken in the same year.

What credits are required for an Advanced Studies Diploma for students who entered the ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond?

The credits required for an Advanced Studies Diploma for students entering the ninth grade in 2013-2014 and beyond are listed below. The Advanced Studies Diploma requires twenty-six (26) credits for students entering ninth grade in 2013- 2014 and beyond and completion of one virtual course. Of the 26 credits, nine (9) must be verified credits as follows: two (2) English, two (2) math, two (2) science, two (2) social studies, and one student-selected test students must have to graduate.

Advanced Studies Diploma/Subject Area Standard
Units of Credit
Verified
Units of Credit
English* 4 2
Mathematics 4 2
Science** 4 2
History & Social Science** 4 2
Health & Physical Education 2 0
World Languages (Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall be three years of the same language or two years each of two languages.) 3 0
Economics and Personal Finance 1 0
Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education 1
Virtual Course (obtained through coursework) 0 0
Electives- Credits (Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality.) 3 0
Student Selected Tests*** 0 0
Total 26 9

* Students usually earn one standard credit and the two verified credits through the English 11 class.

** Students who complete a career and technical educational 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 (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 Virginia Board of Education as an additional test to verify student achievement.

*** Students may choose a verified credit earned in an academic class or may choose a verified credit earned in a Virginia Board of Education approved test in computer science, technology and career and technical education.

What are the specific units of credit requirements to fulfill the 26 credits for a student seeking an Advanced Studies Diploma?

Specific units of credit for an Advanced Studies Diploma include:

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 Virginia Board of Education shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement.

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 (Note: Oceanography and Astronomy are in the Earth Sciences discipline). The Virginia Board of Education may approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement.

History and Social Sciences- 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 Virginia Board of Education shall approve courses to satisfy this requirement.

Foreign World Languages- Three years of one language or two years each of two languages

What credits are required for a diplomas for students identified as having disabilities?

A student's individualized educational plan (IEP) committee may consider two other diploma options for students identified as having disabilities. The Applied Studies Diploma is granted when a student does not qualify for other diplomas but does meet the requirements of the IEP developed for that student.

The Modified Standard Diploma requires twenty (20) standard credits, but no verified credits. Students seeking a Modified Standard Diploma must either pass or meet the literacy and numeracy cut scores on the 8th grade SOL tests in both reading and mathematics. Students may also fulfill this requirement by passing the grade 11 reading SOL test and any mathematics SOL given at the high school level..

Modified Standard Diploma/Subject Area Standard
Units of Credit
English 4
Mathematics 3
Science 2
History & Social Science 2
World Languages 0
Health & Physical Education 2
Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education 1
Electives- Electives Credits (Courses to satisfy this requirement shall include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality 6
Total 20

What are the specific units of credit requirements to fulfill the 20 credits for a student seeking a Modified Standard Diploma?

Specific units of credit required for a Modified Standard Diploma include:

Mathematics- Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include content from among applications of Algebra I, Geometry, Personal finance, and Statistics in course approved by the Virginia Board of Education.

Science- Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include content from at least two of the following: applications of earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics in courses approved by the Virginia Board of Education.

History and Social Science- Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include one unit of credit in Virginia and U.S. History, Virginia and U.S. Government in courses approved by the Virginia Board of Education.

Sequential electives- These electives can be chosen from a concentration of courses selected from a variety of options (fine arts, world languages, or career and technical education) that may be planned to ensure the completion of a focused sequence of elective courses. Students may take such focused sequence of elective courses in consecutive years or any two years of high school. Such focused sequence of elective courses shall provide a foundation for further education or training or preparation for employment. Sequential electives need not be taken in consecutive years. They MAY NOT be taken in the same year.

Can any student qualify for a Certificate of Program Completion?

Students who complete a prescribed course of study as defined by the School Board but who do not qualify for a diploma shall be awarded a Certificate of Program Completion by the School Board and may not participate in commencement ceremonies.

Are transfer students required to meet the same graduation requirements as Virginia Beach City Public Schools students?

Students who transfer from other Virginia public school systems must meet the same requirements as Virginia Beach City Public Schools students. However, as of the 2002-2003 school year, the verified credits required of transfer students from private or out-of-state schools will vary depending on when the transfer student registers. The term "beginning" in the following charts means within the first twenty hours of instruction per course and the term "during" means after the first 20 hours of instruction.

Advanced Studies Diploma Verified Credit Requirements
For Students Who Transfer Into Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Grade Level Student Enters Virginia Beach City Public Schools Must Earn First Time Ninth Grade Student in 2000-2001 and beyond
During ninth grade or the beginning of tenth grade No change in requirements
During tenth or the beginning of eleventh grade 6 Verified Credits
English 2
Mathematics 1
Science 1
History and Social Science 1
Student Selected 1
During eleventh or the beginning of twelfth grade 4 Verified Credits
English 1
Student Selected 3
During twelfth grade Students should be given every opportunity to earn a local diploma. If Virginia diploma requirements cannot be met, the previous school should award diploma or the student can request that the local school board seek a waiver from the Virginia Department of Education.

Standard Diploma Verified Credit Requirements
For Students Who Transfer Into Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Students Transferring into a Virginia Public School for the first time Must Earn First Time Ninth Graders in 2000-2001, 2001-2002, or 2002-2003 First Time Ninth Graders in 2002-2003 and beyond
During ninth grade or the beginning of tenth grade No change in requirements
During tenth or the beginning of eleventh grade 4 Verified Credits
English 1 1
Mathematics 1
Science 1
History and Social Science 1
Student Selected 3
During eleventh or the beginning of twelfth grade 2 Verified Credits
English 1 1
Student Selected 1 1
During twelfth grade Students should be given every opportunity to earn a local diploma. If Virginia diploma requirements cannot be met, the previous school should award diploma or the student can request that the local school board seek a waiver from the Virginia Department of Education.

Are students who fail the high school end-of-course SOL tests permitted to retake the test(s)?

Students may retake high school end-of-course tests as often as a local school division's testing schedule will permit. Students who score within 25 points of passing or have extenuating circumstances may be eligible to retake a test before the next scheduled administration.

How often is it necessary to meet with a school counselor?

Students are encouraged to meet with their school counselor, either in a small group or individually, every year. Every elementary, middle and high school has a guidance office with staff available to answer your questions and provide assistance with a student's academic career. The phone numbers for each guidance office are available.

Why are students required to pass reading and writing tests to earn a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma?

To ensure that all high school graduates have the reading and writing skills necessary for success in college or in the job market. A diploma from a Virginia high school is a guarantee that the graduate earned these vital skills.

How will I know if my child is taking all the required courses needed for graduation?

Every student, starting with the 6th grade, receives a copy of the Secondary School Curriculum Student Guide. The information in this guide is designed to assist students in grades 6-12 and their parents with the selection of courses in the middle and high school levels. Students and parents are encouraged to study this publication and talk with school counselors and teachers as part of the course selection process.

A course verification document is sent to each student and parent every spring for the following year's courses. If there are questions or concerns, students and parents should immediately contact their student's school counselor.

If my child fails a course, will I be advised as to what steps should be taken to graduate with his/her class?

When a student fails a course, he/she has the opportunity to retake the class during summer school in order to remain on target for graduation. Meeting with a school counselor each year, keeps students informed of the resources and options available to them and provides them with the opportunity to discuss these kinds of issues.

How and when are parents/students notified of the possibility of not meeting the requirements to graduate with their class?

At the beginning of each high school year, students meet with their assigned school counselor to review the requirements for graduation and specifically what the student has completed. Families are encouraged to contact their studentís school counselor to discuss progress. At the beginning of 12th grade, parents/students are provided the Notice of Senior Graduation Status form which outlines the remaining requirements for students to graduate.

What is the role of the School Improvement Specialist in regards to graduation requirements?

Each middle and high school has an employee assigned to coordinate the SOL testing process. This person is known as the School Improvement Specialist (SIS) and he/she is the contact person for addressing SOL testing questions from students and/or parents as they relate to graduation requirements.

Last Modified on Thursday, September 1, 2016