Superintendent's Memo #091-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

April 1, 2011

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Alternate Provisions for Military Transfer Students to Meet Graduation Requirements

Virginia is one of 36 states that are members of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The provisions of the interstate compact may be found in § 22.1-360 of the Code of Virginia.

Numerous questions have arisen regarding the awarding of verified credit for out-of-state tests, particularly as they relate to existing Board regulations, the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia. Board regulations should be used as guidance for evaluating situations involving military transfer students, recognizing that the compact provisions are in the Code of Virginia and take precedence over regulations. This memorandum provides direction to school divisions regarding how the compact provisions should be applied for awarding course credit to students in military families.

Provisions of the Compact

The provisions of the compact apply only to students in military families transferring into Virginia. The provisions of the compact do not apply to military families transferring from one school division in Virginia to another.

Military families transferring into Virginia to whom the compact applies must meet the following criteria, as set forth in § 22.1-360:

Article III.  Applicability.

  1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection B, this compact shall apply to the children of:

    1. Active duty members of the uniformed services as defined in this compact, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §§ 1209 and 1211;
    2. Members or veterans of the uniformed services who are severely injured and medically discharged or retired for a period of one year after medical discharge or retirement; and
    3. Members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty for a period of one year after death.

  2. The provisions of this interstate compact shall only apply to local education agencies as defined in this compact.
    [Article II states:  “Local education agency” means a public authority legally constituted by the state as an administrative agency to provide control of and direction for kindergarten through 12th grade public educational institutions.]

  3. The provisions of this compact shall not apply to the children of:

    1. Inactive members of the National Guard and Military Reserves;
    2. Members of the uniformed services now retired, except as provided in subsection A;
    3. Veterans of the uniformed services, except as provided in subsection A; and
    4. Other U.S. Department of Defense personnel and other federal agency civilian and contract employees not defined as active duty members of the uniformed services.

Several questions have arisen regarding the treatment of federal Department of Defense (DOD) schools, located on military bases in the United States and in other parts of the world. DOD schools are not included in the definition of a “local education agency” but even though DOD schools are not officially part of the compact, school divisions should work with families of students transferring from DOD schools just as they would if the student were transferring from a school in another state.

The compact also addresses graduation requirements, as well as end-of-course and exit tests required for graduation. It states, in Article VII of § 22.1-360:

Article VII. Graduation.

In order to facilitate the on-time graduation of children of military families, states and local education agencies shall incorporate the following procedures:

  1. Waiver requirements.  Local education agency administrative officials shall waive specific courses required for graduation if similar coursework has been satisfactorily completed in another local education agency or shall provide reasonable justification for denial.  Should a waiver not be granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from the sending school, the local education agency shall provide an alternative means of acquiring required coursework so that graduation may occur on time.

  2. Exit exams.  States shall accept: (i) exit or end-of-course exams required for graduation from the sending state, (ii) national norm-referenced achievement tests, or (iii) alternative testing acceptable to the receiving state, in lieu of testing requirements for graduation in the receiving state.  In the event the above alternatives cannot be accommodated by the receiving state, then the provisions of subsection C of this Article shall apply….

  3. Transfers during senior year.  Should a military student transferring in his or her senior year be ineligible to graduate from the receiving local education agency after all alternatives have been considered, the sending local education agency, with the cooperation of the receiving local education agency, shall ensure the receipt of a diploma from the sending local education agency, if the student meets the graduation requirements of the sending local education agency.  In the event that one of the states in question is not a member of this compact, the member state shall use best efforts to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student in accordance with subsections A and B of this Article.

Virginia’s Implementation of the Military Compact

Testing Requirements

Students Meeting Graduation Testing Requirements in the Sending State - Under the provisions of the compact, § 22.1-360, Code of Virginia, school divisions shall accept a sending state’s high school end-of-course or exit exams for the purpose of meeting Virginia’s testing requirements for graduation for students in military families who meet the criteria, as set forth in § 22.1-360 and who moved to Virginia from the sending state after meeting that sending state’s testing requirements for graduation.

So long as the student achieved passing scores on all the sending state’s tests required for graduation, the student is not required to pass any additional tests in order to graduate in Virginia. However, if the sending state does not require students to pass end-of-course or exit tests in order to graduate, or if the student is required to take a test or tests but the state has not set a specified cut score or passing score, the student must meet the testing requirements as prescribed in the Board’s Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/soa.doc, in particular 8 VAC 20-131-30, 8 VAC 20-131-50, and 8 VAC 20-131-60.

The applicable standard credits for awarding a Virginia high school diploma must be earned by the students.

Students Not Meeting Graduation Testing Requirements in the Sending State - If the student has not fully met the sending state’s testing requirements for graduation before moving to Virginia, school divisions shall accept the following tests from the sending state for purpose of awarding a Virginia high school diploma.  The required standard credits for awarding a Virginia high school diploma must be earned by all students.

Applicability of 8 VAC 20-131-30.E. of the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia:

8 VAC 20-131-30.E of the Board of Education’s Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia states: “Each student in middle and secondary schools shall take all applicable end-of-course SOL tests following course instruction.” This regulation applies to all students, regardless of whether they have met the verified credit requirements for graduation or another state’s testing requirements for graduation.

Verified Credit Requirements

The Board of Education has set forth alternative provisions for awarding verified credit in 8 VAC 20-131-110, Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/soa.doc, and in its companion Guidance Document Governing Certain Provisions of the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/soa_guidance_provisions.pdf. These regulations shall be used in determining the total number of verified credits that must be earned by students of military families who transfer to Virginia from another state and who have not fully met the sending state’s graduation testing requirements.

Virginia Board of Education Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia, 8 VAC 20-131-60, state the following: