P.O. BOX 2120



September 8, 2006



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Revised Standards of Accreditation



On May 24, 2006, the Virginia Board of Education adopted revised Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia. Following a 30-day review period required by the Administrative Process Act the revised standards became effective September 7, 2006.

The revised standards can be found on the Departments website at:


A summary of revisions to the standards is set out by section below. If you have problems downloading a copy from the website, please contact the Office of Policy at (804) 225-2092. If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Vucci, director of policy, at (804) 371-0558, or mail to:



Summary of Revisions to the

Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia

8 VAC 20-131-05 et seq.



8 VAC 20-131-05. Definitions.

        A definitions section is included to consolidate and clarify terms used in these regulations.

        The definitions of class period, planning period, and student periods are added to clarify the references to 8 VAC 20-131-240 regarding the middle and secondary classroom teachers standard load and planning period.

        A definition of graduate is added.

        The definition of recess is added to clarify that it is a segment of time in which students are given a break from instruction.

        The definition of reconstitution is added, in reference to 8 VAC 20-131-315 regarding a school that is denied accreditation.

        The definition of standard school day is clarified to specify it is a calendar day.


8 VAC 20-131-10. Purpose.

        Language clarifies that these regulations do not apply to schools licensed under other state regulations (such as state-operated programs licensed under the Standards for Interdepartmental Regulation of Childrens Residential Facilities).


8 VAC 20-131-20. Philosophy, Goals, and Objectives.

        A new objective, to increase graduation rates, is added to the schools goals and objectives.


8 VAC 20-131-30. Student Achievement.

        Students who are accelerated may take the tests for the grade level of the content received in instruction.

        Remediation recovery is expanded from K-8 to K-12 in English and mathematics. The retesting provision is no longer needed with annual testing in grades three through eight. The application of remediation recovery to a schools accreditation ratings will continue to be defined in Board guidelines.

        Language is added to reference 504 plans, as well as Individual Education Programs (IEP) for students with disabilities. Language is added to specify that students with disabilities are assessed with the appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments where necessary.

        Foreign exchange students are required to take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests when taking courses for credit, but are not required to take the tests for courses if they audit the course.

        Language is added to clarify that students who are limited English proficient (LEP) may be granted an exemption from Standards of Learning (SOL) testing in the areas of writing, science, and history and social science.


8 VAC 20-131-40. Literacy Passport Tests.

        The section is repealed, as it is obsolete and the tests are no longer administered.


8 VAC 20-131-50. Requirements for Graduation.

        Language regarding the Modified Standard Diploma that was originally stricken in the first version of the proposed revisions has been restored. This language specifies that: The informed, written consent of the parent is required, if:

      The student who has chosen to pursue a Modified Standard Diploma shall be allowed to pursue a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma at any time in the students high school career, and

      The student must not be excluded from courses or tests required for a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma.

        The Boards current policy that allows students to earn a verified credit for the student-selected test if they complete a career and technical program sequence and earn an industry certification, state license, or occupational competency credential is added to the regulations.

        For a standard diploma, when the certification, license, or credential confers more than one verified credit, a second verified credit may be substituted for a science, or history/social science verified credit.

        The requirements for the Governors Seal are revised. Students are able to receive the seal if they earn an Advanced Studies Diploma with a B average or better, and successfully complete college-level coursework to earn at least 9 transferable college credits in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, or dual enrollment (Early College Scholars).

        The requirements for the Board of Education Seal are revised. Students are eligible to receive the seal if they have an A average, whether they earn a Standard or an Advanced Studies Diploma.

        The requirements for the Board of Educations Career and Technical Education Seal are revised to clarify that the student may pass an occupational competency exam, or earn an industry certification or state license.

        The requirements for the Board of Educations Seal for Excellence in Civics Education is added. (These requirements are currently in guidelines; the seal itself is established in 22.1-253.13:4 of the Code of Virginia).

        Language about the diploma seals clarifies that a student may earn more than one seal.

        Language further clarifies that the licenses and examinations for the Board of Educations Career and Technical Education Seal and Advanced Mathematics and Technology Seal must be approved by the Board.


8 VAC 20-131-60. Transfer of Students.

        Language clarifies that students transferring from Virginia public schools and nonpublic schools accredited by one of the constituent members of the Virginia Council for Private Education shall be recognized for all grade-level work completed in grades K-8. The academic records of students from all other schools shall be evaluated to determine appropriate grade placement.

        Language specifies that all secondary schools shall accept credits toward graduation from nonpublic schools accredited by one of the constituent members of the Virginia Council for Private Education.

        Additional language specifies that nothing in the regulations prohibits public schools from accepting standard credits towards graduation from all other schools when the course generally matches the course for which the receiving school gives standard credit and the school from which the student transfers certifies that the course meets the requirements for a standard credit, as specified in these regulations.

        A provision is added to allow a student who transfers to a Virginia high school for the first time during the tenth grade or at the beginning of the eleventh grade, who is pursuing a Standard Diploma, and who completes a career and technical education program sequence to substitute the certificate, occupational competency credential, or license for either a science or a history or social science verified credit.


8 VAC 20-131-70. Program of Instruction and Learning Objectives.

        Language is added to reference 504 plans.


8 VAC 20-131-80. Instructional Program in Elementary Schools.

        The requirement for a daily recess in elementary schools is moved from this section to 8 VAC 20-131-200. There is no change in the requirement, but it clarifies that recess is not part of the instructional program and is not counted as instructional time.

        The requirement that each school shall ensure that students who are unable to read with comprehension have both the additional instruction and the materials necessary for instruction is set out in this section, as well as in the sections of the regulations relating to middle school and secondary school (8 VAC 20-131-90 and 8 VAC 20-131-100) to emphasize the importance of reading at all levels.

        The requirement that each school shall require students to participate in a program of physical fitness during the regular school year in accordance with Board of Education guidelines is added in this section.

        Language is added encouraging elementary schools to provide instruction in foreign languages.


8 VAC 20-131-90. Instructional Program in Middle Schools.

        Middle schools are required to offer Algebra I as a part of their minimum course offerings to students in the eighth grade.

        The requirement that each school shall require students to participate in a program of physical fitness during the regular school year in accordance with Board of Education guidelines is added in this section.


8 VAC 20-131-100. Instructional Program in Secondary Schools.

        All secondary schools are required to offer at least three Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, or college level courses for degree credit, or any combination thereof.


8 VAC 20-131-110. Standard and Verified Units of Credit.

        Language clarifies that students seeking a Modified Standard Diploma may use an expedited retake of a Standards of Learning test to meet the literacy and numeracy requirements for the Modified Standard Diploma.

        Provisions for a locally awarded verified unit of credit in science or history/social science, subject to Board guidelines, are added to the regulations. The language further clarifies that students who were in the ninth-grade class of 2003-2004 and beyond may be eligible to earn locally awarded verified credits from the local school board. (Currently the provisions are in a 1 statute and apply to the ninth-grade classes of 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2002-03.)

        The criteria for Board approval of substitute tests is modified to permit tests administered as a part of another states accountability program to be approved as substitute tests. Such tests would be held to the same standard of review and approval by the Board as all other substitute tests.


8 VAC 20-131-120. Summer School.

        No changes.


8 VAC 20-131-130. Elective Courses.

        No changes.


8 VAC 20-131-140. College Preparation Programs and Opportunities for Postsecondary Credit.

        Language is added to provide for counseling of students in opportunities for obtaining industry certification in preparation for entering the workforce.


8 VAC 20-131-150. Standard School Year and School Day.

        Language is added to clarify that the standard school year is based on instructional days and the standard school day is based upon 5 instructional hours.

        Language is deleted that refers to alternative schedules, as this topic is covered in the Code of Virginia and school divisions may elect to have longer terms if they choose.


8 VAC 20-131-160. Additional Reading Instruction.

        This section is repealed and language in this section is included in sections 80, 90, and 100.


8 VAC 20-131-170. Family Life Education.

        No changes.


8 VAC 20-131-180. Offsite Instruction.

        Language clarifies that for homebound instruction, the instructional time requirements or alternative means of awarding credit, as adopted by the local school board, have been met.


8 VAC 20-131-190. Library Media, Materials and Equipment.

        No changes.


8 VAC 20-131-200. Extracurricular and Other School Activities, Recess.

        The provision for daily recess is moved into this section from section 80.


8 VAC 20-131-210. Role of the Principal.

        Language specifies that the principal must notify parents of rising 11th and 12th graders of the number of standard and verified credits required for graduation, and the number of such credits the student must earn in order to graduate. ( 22.1-253.13:4 of the Code of Virginia)


8 VAC 20-131-220. Role of the Professional Teaching Staff.

        No changes proposed.


8 VAC 20-131-230. Role of Support Staff.

        No changes.


8 VAC 20-131-240. Administrative and Staff Support; Staffing Requirements.

        Staffing requirements that are prescribed in the Standards of Quality for principals, assistant principals, librarians, guidance counselors, and clerical staff are deleted from the regulations because it is duplicative of language in 22.1-253.13:2 of the Code of Virginia.

        A revision is made to specify that guidance counselors for all schools, including elementary schools, shall provide a minimum of 60 percent of the time devoted to counseling of students. The previous provision applied only to guidance counselors in middle and secondary schools.

        Language about planning period for teachers in middle and secondary schools is revised to be consistent with language in 22.1-253.13:2 of the Code of Virginia. It also clarifies that middle and secondary teachers standard load shall be based on teaching no more than 5/6 of the instructional day.

        The requirement that middle school teachers have a load of no more than 25 class periods a week would begin with academic year 2008-2009.

        Language clarifies that in schools with a traditional six or seven period day, teachers of block programs that encompass more than one class period with no more than 120 student periods per day may teach 30 class periods per week.

        Language is added to strengthen the provision for one planning period per day or equivalent for middle and secondary teachers.


8 VAC 20-131-260. Facilities and Safety.

        Language is added to provide for adequate and safe administration and storage of student medications.

        Language is added to require that written procedures for emergencies include procedures to follow in the event of an allergic reaction.

        Language is added to require written procedures for the safe evacuation of persons with special physical, medical, or language needs who may need assistance to exit a building.


8 VAC 20-131-270. School and Community Communications.

        A requirement is added to provide information on the School Report Card on the number of students obtaining industry certifications and passing state licensure assessments and occupational competency assessments while still in high school. (This is consistent with language in SB 1045 passed by the 2005 General Assembly.)

        Language is added to clarify that compliance with this section of the regulations will be reported through pre-accreditation eligibility procedures.


8 VAC 20-131-280. Expectations for School Accountability.

        Language is added in this section and in 8 VAC 20-131-290 to cross-reference the responsibility of the division superintendent in reporting compliance with pre-accreditation eligibility requirements. The term pre-accreditation eligibility requirements is used for clarity in this section, and in 8 VAC 20-131-290, 8 VAC 20-131-300, and 8 VAC 20-131-325.


8 VAC 20-131-290. Procedures for Certifying Accreditation Eligibility.

        Language is added to clarify the link between accreditation eligibility and pre-accreditation eligibility.


8 VAC 20-131-300. Application of the Standards.

        For ratings awarded in 2007-2008 through 2009-2010 (based on assessments administered in 2006-2007 through 2008-2009), the requirement that the pass rate for accreditation is 75 percent in English in grades 3 and 5 is revised to grades 3 through 5 to reflect annual testing in English and mathematics. The pass rate requirement for mathematics is 70 percent for all grades and the pass rate requirement for grade 3 history is 50 percent.

        Beginning with ratings earned in 2010-2011 and beyond (based on assessments in 2009-2010 and beyond), the pass rate for accreditation is raised to 75 percent in English and 70 percent in mathematics, science, and history and social science for all grades.

        The accreditation rating, Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation, which was eliminated in the first proposed revision, is restored for school year 2006-2007, based on the assessments taken in school year 2005-2006. The accreditation rating expires at the end of school year 2006-2007.

        Language clarifies that accreditation ratings awarded in an academic year are based upon Virginia assessment results from the academic year immediately prior to the year to which the accreditation rating applies.

        Language further clarifies that the provisions of the current Standards of Accreditation apply to accreditation ratings awarded for academic year 2006-2007, based on assessments taken in 2005-2006.

        Additional language clarifies that a school that is reconstituted and is Conditionally Accredited may have its accreditation rating revert to Accreditation Denied if it fails to be Fully Accredited or fails to have its annual application for such rating renewed.


8 VAC 20-131-310. Action Requirements for Schools That Are Accredited with Warning or Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation.

        Language is revised to clarify that the school is to adopt a research-based instructional intervention with a proven track record of success.

        Language is moved from 8 VAC 20-310-40 to this section. The language says that schools rated Accredited with Warning must undergo an academic review and prepare and implement a school improvement plan.

        Language also specifies that schools rated Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation must also undergo an academic review and prepare and implement a school improvement plan.


8 VAC 20-131-315. Action Requirements for Schools That Are Denied Accreditation.

        A new section is added for clarity. Language about the requirements for schools denied accreditation is moved from 8 VAC 20-131-340 to this section.

        The sequence and timing of these provisions has been modified:

      Any school rated Accreditation Denied must notify the parents and other interested parties of the accreditation rating within 30 calendar days of receiving the notification, and must provide them with a copy of the proposed corrective action plan and an opportunity to comment on the corrective action plan.

      The school is subject to actions prescribed by the Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the local school board.

      The local school board must submit a corrective action plan to the Board of Education within 45 days of the notification of the rating, for consideration in the memorandum of understanding.

      The memorandum between the Board of Education and the local school board shall be entered into no later than November 1 of the year in which the accreditation rating is awarded.

      The local school board must submit status reports to the Board of Education, and the principal, division superintendent, and chair of the school board may be required to appear before the Board of Education to present the status reports.

        If the local school board chooses to reconstitute a school, it must apply annually for an accreditation rating of Conditionally Accredited. The Conditionally Accredited rating may be granted for up to three years if the school is making progress toward a rating of Full Accreditation in accordance with the terms of the approval of the application.


8 VAC 20-131-320. Provisional Accreditation Benchmarks.

        The section is repealed. It is obsolete and the benchmarks are no longer in effect.


8 VAC 20-131-325. Recognitions and Rewards for School Accountability Performance.

        A school that maintains a pass rate of 95 percent or above for two consecutive years may receive a waiver from annual accreditation, and shall be accredited for three years. However, the school must continue to submit documentation that it is in compliance with the regulations.

        The waiver provisions currently in 8 VAC 20-131-325.B are deleted, as no school has requested such waivers; however, the regulations still provide for waivers of these regulations pursuant to the current 8 VAC 20-131-330 (which is moved to 8 VAC 20-131-350).

        The provisions for the Governors Award for Outstanding Achievement Language is revised to require that the school be Fully Accredited, and that it has significantly increased student achievement in student subgroups to close the achievement gap.


8 VAC 20-131-330. Waivers.

        This section is moved to 8 VAC 20-131-350.


8 VAC 20-131-340. Academic Reviews, Special Provisions, and Sanctions.

        The provisions relating to academic reviews and Accreditation Denied are moved to 8 VAC 20-131-310 and 8 VAC 20-131-315. The section is renamed Special Provisions and Sanctions.

        A provision is added to specify that withholding of a schools accreditation rating shall not be considered an interruption of the three consecutive year period for purposes of receiving an Accreditation Denied status.


8 VAC 20-131-350. Waivers.

        This section is moved from 8 VAC 20-131-330.


8 VAC 20-131-360. Effective Date.

        Unless otherwise specified, these regulations are effective for the 2006-2007 school year.


Minor editorial changes are recommended for clarity and consistency.