P.O. BOX 2120



September 24, 2004



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Standards for Diplomas Earned in Adult High School Programs



The Board of Education is revising the Regulations Governing Adult High School Programs (8 VAC 20-30) in an effort to ensure the continued high quality of diplomas issued by school divisions. Since the Regulations for Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (SOA)(8 VAC 20-131-10 et seq.) became effective in 2000 and the use of the Literacy Passport Test was discontinued, a number of questions have arisen concerning the requirements for earning a high school diploma through adult education programs. Until new regulations are effective, school divisions may issue only a Standard or an Advanced Studies Diploma to graduates of adult high school programs. The following guidelines are provided to assist school divisions.


1.        The number of units of credit required to award a diploma depends on the date the individual entered the ninth grade. The following chart outlines the number of standard credits required to earn a high school diploma. Please note that individuals enrolled in adult high school programs are exempt from earning credits in health and physical education and that the necessary adjustments have been made to the credit requirements.







Entered the ninth grade

Number of standard credits required


Prior to the 1984-85 school year




During the 1984-85 school year, but prior to the 1988-89 school year




During the 1988-89 school year, but prior to the 2000-2001 school year




During the 2000-01 school year to present

See #3


2.        Students who entered the ninth grade before the 2000-01 school year should be required to demonstrate knowledge and skills equivalent to those of a high school graduate.


3.        In order to earn a high school diploma, any student who enrolls in an adult education program and who entered the ninth grade in or after the 2000-01 school year or later, will be required to meet all standard and verified credit requirements described in the Standards of Accreditation (8 VAC 20-131-10) with the exception of health and physical education. School divisions are responsible for ensuring that Standards of Learning tests or other approved substitute tests are administered to verify credit.


It is important to note that adult high school programs are not intended to serve currently enrolled high school students. High-school-age students (not yet 20 years of age on or before August 1 of the school year) who do not graduate on time should be encouraged to remain in a continuation program until they meet graduation requirements. Continuation programs designed for high-school-age students are not the responsibility of adult education providers. The General Achievement Diploma is another option for students who do not graduate on time.


This memo supersedes any other requirements regarding diploma requirements for individuals enrolled in adult high school programs set forth in previous Superintendents Memoranda. It shall remain in effect until the Board of Education approves revised Regulations Governing Adult High School Programs. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Dr. Yvonne Thayer (, director of adult education and literacy, at (804) 786-3347 or Bob MacGillivray (, adult secondary and assessment specialist, at (804) 371-2333.