Frequently Asked Questions about Earning a Virginia High School Diploma
- How many verified credits do students who transfer into Virginia high schools from other states or private schools need to earn a Standard Diploma?
- How many verified credits do students who transfer into Virginia high schools from other states or private schools need to earn an Advanced Studies Diploma?
- What about students who transfer to a Virginia public high school during their senior year?
- May end-of-course assessments taken in other states be substituted for SOL tests in the awarding of verified credits?
- What are "standard units of credit" and "verified units of credit"?
- Are students who fail end-of-course tests permitted to retake the tests?
- What happens if a student passes a course but fails the corresponding end-of-course test?
- May tests of equal or greater rigor be substituted for SOL tests for the awarding of verified credits?
Students entering a Virginia public high school for the first time during the tenth grade or at the beginning of the eleventh grade must earn a minimum of four verified units of credit, including one each in English, mathematics, history/social science, and science to receive a Standard Diploma. These students are eligible for locally awarded verified credits in science and history/social science and are also eligible for verified credits earned through career and technical education.
Students entering a Virginia public high school for the first time during the eleventh grade or at the beginning of the twelfth grade must earn a minimum of two verified credits, including one in English and one in a subject of their own choosing to receive a Standard Diploma.
Students entering a Virginia public high school for the first time during the tenth grade or at the beginning of the eleventh grade must earn a minimum of six verified credits, including two in English, one each in mathematics, history/social science, and science, and one in a subject of their own choosing to receive an Advanced Studies Diploma.
Students entering a Virginia public high school for the first time during the eleventh grade or at the beginning of the twelfth grade must earn a minimum of four verified units of credit, including one in English and three in subjects of their own choosing to receive an Advanced Studies Diploma.
Students transferring after 20 instructional hours per course of their senior year shall be given every opportunity to earn a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma. If it is not possible for the student to meet the requirements for a Virginia Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma, arrangements should be made for the student's previous school to award the diploma. If these arrangements cannot be made, the school division can submit a waiver of the verified unit of credit requirements to the Virginia Department of Education. Your school counselor can tell you more about this waiver.
The Board of Education accepts content-based high school end-of-course tests administered as a part of another state's accountability system for the purpose of awarding verified credit to students who transfer to Virginia public schools. When students transfer to a Virginia public school from a state that requires such high school end-of-course tests, the local school division may automatically accept the student's passing score on the test and the corresponding course for the purposes of awarding verified credit.
When students transfer to a Virginia public school from a state that requires a comprehensive subject area examination as a prerequisite for graduation from high school, VDOE – at the request of the division superintendent — will review the examination to determine its suitability for use to award verified credit. In order for a test to be deemed suitable for use, the test must be approved as part of another state's accountability system and approved through the federal standards and assessment peer review process. Such requests shall be submitted by the division superintendent within 30 days of receipt of the student's record.
A standard unit of credit is awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes the objectives of the course and the equivalent of 140 clock hours of instruction.
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.
Students may retake end-of-course tests as often as a school division's testing schedule permits. Students who score within 25 points of passing or have extenuating circumstances may be eligible to retake a test before the next scheduled administration.
As mentioned above, students may retake tests needed to earn verified units of credit for graduation. Students who score between 375-399 on a test are eligible for an expedited retake and may retake a test before the next scheduled test administration.
Students who after remediation fail a retake of history/social studies or science test, but achieve a score of 375 or better, may be awarded a verified credit by their local school board, following a review of their class work and/or demonstration of their mastery of the content of the course. Verified credits awarded in this manner are given at the discretion of local school boards and apply only toward a Standard Diploma. Ask your school counselor for more information about locally awarded verified credits.
Yes. The Board of Education has approved a number of tests that students may take to earn verified credits toward graduation. The Board also has approved a schedule of career and technical examinations for licensure or certification that may be substituted for SOL tests to earn student-selected verified units of credit. Tests for licensure or certification that require the demonstration of knowledge and skills beyond what is associated with a single course may result in the awarding of two units of verified credit. Your school counselor and career and technical education teacher can provide more information about these examinations.