COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120


SUPTS. MEMO NO. 1
October 6, 2000

INTERPRETIVE
 
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Graduation Issues

It has come to our attention that there is some confusion about the requirements for graduation. This memorandum clarifies issues related to the graduation requirements found in Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia adopted by the Board of Education July 28, 2000. Those regulations became effective September 28, 2000. The full text of the standards can be found on our website at http://www.pen.k12.va.us. The two issues for clarification are as follows:

A. Standard Credit Requirements

The new course and units of credit requirements for graduation outlined in the accrediting standards became effective with the ninth-grade class of 1998-99. These requirements also apply to students who: 1) repeated the ninth grade in 1998-99, and 2) were classified as ungraded because of failure to pass all parts of the Literacy Passport Test (LPT), but otherwise would be classified as ninth-graders in that year.

Prior to 1998-99, the standards included a provision stating that "Graduation requirements for students shall be those in effect at the time the student entered the ninth grade." The standards in effect in 1998-99 did not contain that provision. The provision was restored in the standards that were recently adopted by the Board, but it is not retroactive to the class of 1998-99. All 1998-99 ninth-grade students must meet the new course and credit requirements and pass the LPT in order to earn a diploma.

B. Verified Credit Requirements

Verified units of credit requirements included in the accrediting standards take effect beginning with students who enter the ninth-grade for the first time in 2000-01. The following exceptions should be noted: 1) Students who were in grade 9 in school year 1999-00 and are retained in grade 9 (second-time ninth-graders in 2000-01) will not be held to the requirement of verified units of credit, but will continue with the LPT requirement for graduation. Similarly, any student in grade 9 when the LPT graduation requirement was in effect but was retained in such a manner as to "fail back" into the verified credit cohort of students will continue with the LPT graduation requirement; and 2) students classified as ungraded because of failure to pass all parts of the LPT, but who would otherwise be classified as ninth-grade or above, should be treated in the same manner as the "fail back" students regarding graduation requirements.

C. Transfer Students

The standards require that "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 units of credit from schools outside the United States, and the number of verified units of credit needed to graduate . . . ." When determining which requirements transfer students must meet, the school must determine in which school year the student entered the ninth-grade for the first time. The requirements in effect in Virginia during that school year are those that the students must meet.

Guidance regarding the phase-out of the LPT is provided in INFORMATIONAL SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 164 dated September 1, 2000.

I hope these interpretations are helpful as you work with your students. If you have questions, please contact either Dr. Cheri Magill, director of accreditation, at (804) 225-2708 (mailto:cmagill@mail.vak12ed.edu) or Mr. Edward Holstrom, accreditation specialist, at (804) 225-3122 (mailto:eholstro@mail.vak12ed.edu).

JLD/cwf