How are requirements for graduation established?

The Virginia Board of Education establishes graduation requirements for all students in public schools. The Virginia Beach City Public Schools bases its requirements on the state requirements.

What diploma programs are available?

To receive a high school diploma, students must meet the minimum requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma, the Standard Diploma, the Modified Standard Diploma, or the Special Diploma. These diploma programs are designed to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge necessary to continue educational options after high school or to enter the world of work. Through elective choices, students have the opportunity to design a course of study that best prepares them for their goals. Students are encouraged to consider both educational and career goals in selecting courses. The credit requirements for each type of diploma can be found in the Secondary School Curriculum for Students of Virginia Beach City Public Schools and on the Virginia Department of Education website,

What if the requirements for graduation change after a student enters ninth grade?

The requirements for a student to earn a diploma shall be those in effect when that student enters the ninth grade for the first time, except for the sequential electives that are required for the Standard and Modified Standard Diplomas.

How does participation in the Standards of Learning assessments affect the type of diploma a student can earn?

Beginning with students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2000, students desiring an Advanced Studies or Standard Diploma need to earn a prescribed number of verified credits. Nine verified credits are required for an Advanced Studies Diploma and six verified credits are required for a Standard Diploma.

What is a standard unit of credit?

A standard unit of credit for graduation is based on a minimum of 140 clock hours of instruction and successful completion of the requirements of the course.

What is a verified credit?

A verified credit is an earned standard unit of credit that has been verified by making a passing score on the associated end-of-course SOL test.

What if a student wants to receive a Modified Standard Diploma?

A student with a disability must pass literacy and numeracy competency assessments. These assessments are currently the Standards of Learning Grade 8 English (Reading) and the Grade 8 Mathematics tests or any equivalent tests approved by the Virginia Department of Education. Additionally, students with disabilities must take an end-of-course SOL assessment if the student is enrolled in a course for credit that has an end-of-course SOL test.

What is the Special Diploma? Students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and do not meet the requirements for other diplomas are awarded the Special Diploma.

How does participation in the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) affect graduation from high school?

Students who participate in the Virginia Alternate Assessment at the high school level cannot be candidates for the Standard, Modified Standard, or Advanced Studies Diplomas. These three diplomas all require participation and certain levels of performance on the Standards of Learning Assessments.

If the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) is determined to be appropriate as early as third grade, does that mean the student will not ever be able to participate in an SOL assessment or earn any diploma other than the Special Diploma?

Individualized Education Program teams must meet at least annually to review the IEP. Part of this review should include the student's participation in any assessment. The assessment determination procedure described earlier should guide the team, beginning with consideration for participation in each SOL test based on instruction in the content covered by that test.

If the IEP team has determined that significant modifications to the general curriculum and a strong emphasis on functional and life skills are appropriate to meet the needs of the student, the criteria for participation in the Virginia Alternate Assessment should be considered. Although a student cannot be "locked in" to this assessment in the primary and middle school levels, it is likely that the factors leading to this decision at an early age will continue to be a significant influence throughout the student's educational years.

The single most important factor for IEP teams to keep in mind regarding the appropriateness of a student's participation in the SOL assessments is the fact that the tests cover content taught over multiple years. Cumulative knowledge is being assessed.

For further information access the Virginia Department of Education for procedures for Participation of Students with Disabilities in the Assessment Component of Virginia's Accountability System.

Supporting Programs

  • Alternate Assessment
  • Annex Cafe
  • Audiological Services
  • Preschool Assessment Center
  • Homebound Services
  • Psychological Services