Graduation Requirements

8 VAC 20-131-50: The requirements for a student to earn a diploma from a Virginia High School shall be those in effect when that student enters the ninth grade for the first time.

Students who complete Advanced Placement courses, college-level courses, or courses required for an International Baccalaureate Diploma shall be deemed to have completed the requirements for graduation under these standards provided they have earned the standard units of credit and earned verified units of credit in accordance with the Virginia diploma requirements outlined below.

Diploma Options 

Standard Diploma: Minimum Course & Credit Requirements

To graduate with a Standard Diploma, a student must earn at least 22 standard units of credit by passing required courses and electives, and earn at least six verified credits by passing end-of-course SOL tests or other assessments approved by the Board of Education.

Beginning with students entering ninth grade for the first time in 2013-2014, a student must also:

  • Earn a board-approved career and technical education credential to graduate with a Standard Diploma; and
  • Successfully complete one virtual course, which may be non-credit bearing.

The school counselor can advise on available courses to fulfill the requirements for a Standard Diploma.

Advanced Studies Diploma: Minimum Course & Credit Requirements

To graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma, a student must earn 26 standard units of credit and at least nine verified units of credit:

  • Students who entered ninth grade for the first time during and after 2011-2012 must earn at least 26 standard units of credit.
  • Beginning with students entering ninth grade for the first time in 2013-2014, a student must successfully complete one virtual course, which may be non-credit bearing, to graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma.

Please note: Your school counselor can tell you which courses are offered by your school to fulfill the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Students who complete Advanced Placement, college-level, or courses required for an International Baccalaureate Diploma shall be deemed to have completed the requirements for graduation under these standards provided they have earned the standard units of credit and earned verified units of credit in accordance with the diploma requirements.

Standard Diploma Standard Credits* Verified Credits** Standard Diploma (Proposed Changes*)  Standard Credits Verified Credits
English 4 2 English 4 2
Mathematics 3 1 Mathematics 3 1
Laboratory Science 3 1 Laboratory Science 3 1
History and Social Sciences 3 1 History and Social Sciences 3 1
Health and Physical Education 2
Health and Physical Education 2
World Language, Fine Arts, or Career and Technical Education 2
World Language, Fine Arts, or Career and Technical Education 2
Economics and Personal Finance
1
Economics and Personal Finance
1
 
Electives 4
Electives 4  
Student Selected Test   1
   
Total 22 6 Total 22 5
*Effective with first-time ninth graders in 2011-2012 and beyond
**Effective for first-time ninth graders in 2003-2004 and beyond
*Effective with first-time ninth graders in 2018-2019 and beyond

 

Advanced Studies Diploma Standard Credits* Verified Credits** Advanced Studies Diploma (Proposed Changes)  Standard Credits Verified Credits
English 4 2 English 4 2
Mathematics 4 2 Mathematics 4 1
Laboratory Science 4 2 Laboratory Science 4 1
History and Social Sciences 4 2 History and Social Sciences 4 1
World Languages 3
World Languages 3
Health and Physical Education 2
Health and Physical Education 1
Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education 1
Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education 1  
Economics and Personal Finance
1
Economics and Personal Finance
1
 
Electives 3
Electives 3  
Student Selected Test   1
   
Total 26 9 Total 26 5
*Effective with first-time ninth graders in 2011-2012 and beyond
**Effective for first-time ninth graders in 2003-2004 and beyond
*Effective with first-time ninth graders in 2018-2019 and beyond

Requirements for an Applied Studies Diploma, Certificate of Program Completion and GED

The Applied Studies Diploma is a diploma option available to studentsidentified as having a disability who complete the requirements of their individualized education programs (IEPs) and meet certain requirements prescribed by the Board of Education pursuant to regulations, but do not meet the requirements for any other diploma.

In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, students who complete prescribed programs of studies defined by the local school board but do not qualify for Standard, Advanced Studies, Applied Studies, or General Achievement diplomas shall be awarded Certificates of Program Completion. The requirements for Certificates of Program Completion are developed by local school boards in accordance with the Standards of Quality. Students receiving a general achievement diploma shall comply with 8VAC20-680-10, Regulations Governing the General Achievement Diploma.

In accordance with the provisions of the compulsory attendance law and 8VAC20-360-10, et. seq., Regulations Governing General Educational Development Certificates, students who do not qualify for diplomas may earn a high school equivalency credential.

Electives

Sequential Electives – Students who wish to receive a Standard Diploma must successfully complete two sequential electives.

  • Sequential electives may be in any discipline as long as the courses are not specifically required for graduation.
  • Courses used to satisfy the one unit of credit in a fine arts or career and technical education course may be used to partially satisfy this requirement.
  • For career and technical education electives, check with your school counselor.
  • An exploratory course followed by an introductory course may not be used to satisfy the requirement.
  • An introductory course followed by another level of the same course of study may be used.
  • Sequential electives do not have to be taken in consecutive years.

Fine Arts and Career and Technical Education – The Standard and Advanced Studies Diplomas each contain a requirement for one standard unit of credit in Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education.

The Standards of Accreditation do not require that courses used to satisfy the requirement of Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education be approved by the Board. Therefore, local school officials should use their own judgment in determining which courses students take to satisfy this requirement.

World Language – The Advanced Studies Diploma contains a requirement for either three years of one world language or two years of two languages.

Diploma Seals

According to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia, students who meet the requirements for graduation and who demonstrate academic excellence may be eligible for one or more of the following diploma seals:

The Governor’s Seal shall be awarded to students who complete the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of “B” or better, and successfully complete college-level coursework that will earn the student at least nine transferable college credits in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or dual enrollment courses.

The Board of Education Seal shall be awarded to students who complete the requirements for a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of “A.”

The Board of Education’s Career and Technical Education Seal shall be awarded to students who (i) earn a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma and complete a prescribed sequence of courses in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that they choose and maintain a “B” or better average in those courses; or (ii) pass an examination or an occupational competency assessment in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that confers a certification or occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade or professional association; or (iii) acquire a professional license in that career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Board of Education shall approve all professional licenses and examinations used to satisfy these requirements.

The Board of Education’s Seal of Advanced Mathematics and Technology shall be awarded to students who earn either a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma and (i) satisfy all of the mathematics requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma (four units of credit including Algebra II; two verified units of credit) with a “B” average or better; and (ii) either (a) pass an examination in a career and technical education field that confers certification from a recognized industry, trade or professional association; (b) acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia; or (c) pass an examination approved by the Board that confers college-level credit in a technology or computer science area. The Board of Education shall approve all professional licenses and examinations used to satisfy these requirements.

The Board of Education’s Seal for Excellence in Civics Education shall be awarded to students who earn either a Modified Standard, Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and (i) complete Virginia and United States History and Virginia and United States Government courses with a grade of “B” or higher; (ii) have good attendance and no disciplinary infractions as determined by local school board policies; and (iii) complete 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities. Activities that would satisfy the requirements of clause (iii) of this subdivision include: (a) volunteering for a charitable or religious organization that provides services to the poor, sick or less fortunate; (b) participating in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or similar youth organizations; (c) participating in JROTC; (d) participating in political campaigns or government internships, or Boys State, Girls State, or Model General Assembly; or (e) participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities that have a civics focus. Any student who enlists in the United States military prior to graduation will be deemed to have met this community service requirement.

The Board of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy shall be awarded to students who earn a Board of Education approved diploma and: (i) pass all required End of Course Assessments in English reading and writing at the proficient or higher level; and (ii) are proficient at the intermediate mid level or higher in one or more languages other than English, as demonstrated through an assessment from a list to be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. American Sign Language qualifies as a language other than English.

SOL Requirements: SOL Tests and Verified Units of Credit

Each Hanover County Public School student at grades 3 through 8 shall take the SOL assessment(s) for the student’s respective grade, and the test results shall be part of a multiple set of criteria used to determine whether students in those grades proceed or are retained. In addition, each student in middle and secondary school shall take all applicable end-of-course SOL tests. Students who achieve a passing score on an end-of-course SOL test shall be awarded a verified unit of credit in that course. Students may earn verified credits in any courses for which end-of-course SOL tests are available. These courses include: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science (AP Environmental Science), World History I, World History II, Modern Global Studies, US and VA History, and English Reading and Writing (English 11). (6-4.4)

Limited English proficient students, as identified by a committee designated to make such determinations, may be exempted from the SOL tests for one grade level only in grades 3 through 8. Students with disabilities for whom participation in the SOL testing program is deemed inappropriate according to their IEP or 504 plan shall be expected to demonstrate proficiency on an alternative assessment prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education in accordance with federal laws and regulations beginning with the school year 2000-2001.

Transfers

The Hanover County secondary schools shall accept credits for transfer students in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Virginia Board of Education and relevant School Board policies. (8 VAC 20-131-60)

Verified Credits

Beginning with the ninth-grade class of 2000-01 (graduation class of 2003-04), students receiving a Standard or Advanced Studies diploma shall have earned a required number of standard and verified credits as set forth in the Standards of Accreditation.

Weighted Credit Courses

Numerical Values Assigned to Grades (For Students in the Graduating Classes of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019)

The following point system is used to compute class rank for each student in the graduating classes of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019:

  • 1.0 Weighted Courses
    • A = 5.0
    • B = 4.0
    • C = 3.0
    • D = 2.0
    • F = 0
  • All Other Courses
    • A = 4.0
    • B = 3.0
    • C = 2.0
    • D = 1.0
    • F = 0

Students in Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced courses receive weighted credit. A numerical advantage of 1.0 is assigned when calculating students’ grade(s) for these courses in accordance with the procedure for computing class rank.

Numerical Values Assigned to Grades (For Students in the Graduating Classes of 2020 and thereafter)

The following point system is used to compute class rank for each student beginning with the graduating class of 2020:

  • 1.0 Weighted Courses
    • A = 5.0
    • B = 4.0
    • C = 3.0
    • D = 2.0
    • F = 0
  • 0.5 Weighted Courses
    • A = 4.5
    • B = 3.5
    • C = 2.5
    • D = 1.5
    • F = 0
  • All Other Courses
    • A = 4.0
    • B = 3.0
    • C = 2.0
    • D = 1.0
    • F = 0

Students in Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment and International Baccalaureate courses receive weighted credit. A numerical advantage of 1.0 is assigned when calculating students’ grade(s) for these courses in accordance with the procedure for computing class rank. Students in Advanced courses also receive weighted credit. A numerical advantage of 0.5 is assigned when calculating students’ grade(s) for these courses in accordance with the procedure for computing class rank.

The Program of Studies and student schedules will clearly reflect which courses carry weighted credit. Appropriate school publications, including the Program of Studies, will state the criteria for placement in courses that carry weighted credit.

Accelerated Credit Option

Effective in the 2001-2002 school year, qualified students may choose the acceleration option of obtaining Carnegie credit(s) and verified credit(s) in designated courses without completing the requirement of 140 clock hours of instruction. Students and parents may request permission to qualify for accelerated credit in the following courses:

  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Geometry
  • Biology (AP Environmental)
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science (AP Environmental Science)
  • Modern Global Studies
  • World History I
  • World History II
  • U.S. History
  • English: Reading, Literature, and Research
  • English: Writing

The process of applying for accelerated credit is outlined below. Students must complete the application and return it to the principal to enter the process. Application forms are available in the counseling office. (Policy/Regulation 6-4.3)

Action Deadline
Student and parent/guardian submit application to principal.
January 15 for SOL Writing & February 15 for other SOL courses
Principal sends all applications to Associate Director of Gifted Education. 
January 25 for SOL Writing & February 25 for other SOL courses
Associate Director of Gifted Education notifies principal and lead teacher specialist of division-level testing schedule.
February 1 for SOL Writing & March 1 for other SOL courses
Principal notifies students of date/location of division-level testing.
February 5 for SOL Writing & April 1 for other SOL courses
Students demonstrate mastery of course content as required by division-level committee and receive a grade of “Pass” or “Fail.” 
February for SOL Writing & April for other SOL courses

Division-level committee sends principal written documentation of each student’s “Pass” or “Fail” status on each assessment.

  • “Pass” grade will be recorded on student’s academic transcript.
  • “Fail” grade will not be recorded on student’s academic transcript nor will it affect student’s GPA.
  • “Pass” grade is required for student to be eligible to take the SOL test for a given course and to receive a Carnegie credit for the course.
February 15 for SOL Writing & April 30 for other SOL courses
Principal notifies each student of “Pass/Fail” status on assessments necessary to receive Carnegie credit in the accelerated option.
February 20 for SOL Writing & May 1 for other SOL courses 
Student who achieves “Pass” grade on required division-level assessment tasks for designated course(s) must take the Standards of Learning (SOL) end-of-course test in the course(s) to receive Carnegie unit and verified credit.
March for SOL Writing & May for other SOL courses
Principal reviews SOL test results and notifies student/parent and student’s school counselor that the student achieved or did not achieve the Carnegie credit or verified credit.  By September 1 
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