Credits for Graduation
In order to earn a diploma and graduate from a Virginia high school, students must earn standard units of credit and verified units of credit. The Virginia Board of Education’s Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (also referred to as the Standards of Accreditation), at 8VAC20-131, provide the requirements for graduation in Virginia. The number of standard and verified credits required varies by diploma type and the year in which the student entered ninth grade. More information on the number of credits required can be found on the webpages for each diploma type:
- Advanced Studies Diploma
- Standard Diploma
- Applied Studies Diploma
- Modified Standard Diploma
- Other Diplomas & Certificates
In accordance with 8VAC20-131-110(A) of the Standards of Accreditation (SOA), a "standard unit of credit" or "standard credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes 140 clock hours of instruction and the requirements of the course.
School divisions may waive the 140 clock hour requirement and elect to award credit on a basis other than the 140 clock hours of instruction. Such school divisions must develop a written policy and comply with Board of Education guidelines. The Board of Education guidelines may be found in the Guidance Document Governing Certain Provisions of the SOA, under 8VAC20-131-110 in the section titled “Alternatives to the 140 Clock Hour Requirement for Standard Units of Credit.”
In accordance with 8VAC20-131-110(B) of the Standards of Accreditation, a "verified unit of credit" or "verified credit" is a credit awarded for a course in which a student earns a standard unit of credit and completes one of the following:
- Achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test.
- Achieves a passing score on an additional test, as defined in 8VAC20-131-5, as a part of the Virginia Assessment Program.
- Meets the criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit (see below) when the student has not passed a corresponding SOL test.
Some school divisions may also permit students to earn a verified credit in English writing by demonstrating mastery of the content of the associated course on an authentic performance assessment that complies with guidelines adopted by the Board of Education.
Locally Awarded Verified Credit
To be eligible to earn locally awarded verified credits in English, mathematics, science, or history/social science, a student must:
- Pass the high school course,
- Score within a 375-399 scale score range on any administration of the Standards of Learning test after taking the test at least twice, and
- Demonstrate achievement in the academic content through an appeal process administered at the local level.
As a result of the comprehensive review and revision of the Standards of Accreditation that occurred in 2017, graduation requirements differ for students who began ninth grade prior to the 2018-2019 school year and those that entered ninth grade in the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter. Accordingly, the number of locally-awarded verified credits and the diplomas to which they may be applied are different for these groups of students.
For students entering the ninth grade for the first time prior to the 2018-2019 academic year (under 8VAC20-131-50):
- No more than three locally-awarded verified credits may be awarded.
- Locally-awarded verified credits cannot be applied toward an Advanced Studies diploma.
For students entering the ninth grade for the first time in the 2018-2019 academic year and thereafter (under 8VAC20-131-51):
- No more than one locally-awarded verified credit may be awarded.
- Locally-awarded verified credits can be applied toward either a Standard or an Advanced Studies diploma.
Credit accommodations for students with disabilities earning a Standard Diploma are not subject to the limit on the number of locally-awarded verified credits that may earned. More information on credit accommodations is available on the Credit Accommodations webpage.