Accelerated Learning Options in High School
Career and Technical Education
Virginia has adopted the National Career Clusters Model. The state provides CTE courses in 16 career clusters, and has approved more than 350 credentialing examinations. Beginning with the graduating class of 2017, students are required to earn a Board-approved career and technical education credential to graduate with a Standard Diploma. Students can meet this requirement through successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia Workplace Readiness Skills for the Commonwealth Assessment.
Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit
The Virginia Plan for Dual Enrollment Between Virginia Public Schools and Community Colleges gives high school students the opportunity to earn dual high school and postsecondary credit. Students may take regularly scheduled community college courses, or may take courses scheduled for dual enrollees either on community college or high school campuses. Some four-year institutions allow high school students to enroll in classes. Dual enrollment coursework is restricted to students in grades 11 and 12, although exceptions may be made for students in grades 9 and 10 who can demonstrate readiness to pursue college-level work. Students must obtain approval from high school administrators and meet institutional admission and placement testing requirements.
The state encourages districts and community colleges to provide access to a wide range of dual credit options at no cost by funding the student’s attendance both at the high school and at the postsecondary institution. All dual enrollment courses may be counted toward the 15 college credits required for a student to become an Early College Scholar. Certain dual enrollment courses may also qualify as part of the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative. This collaborative, involving all Virginia two- and four-year colleges and universities except for the Virginia Military Institute, provides a set of academic courses that fully transfer as core requirements and degree credits.
Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate
The Virginia State Board of Education requires districts to provide at least three Advanced Placement (AP) courses to high school students. The board approves various AP and IB “substitute tests” and minimum score requirements needed to receive verified credits usually acquired by passing Standard of Learning EOCs. Some AP/IB exams count as two verified credits. Virginia receives the Test Fee Program grant from the United States Department of Education that reduces testing costs for low-income students taking AP and IB exams.
Early College Admission
The Early College Scholarsprogram encourages 11th- and 12th-graders to earn at least 15 transferrable college credits. To qualify for the program, students must be Advanced Studies diploma candidates, have at least a B average, and have the approval of their parents/guardians, high school principals and counselors. Early college Scholars are supported by Virtual Virginia, which provides state-wide access to college-level courses, and the Commonwealth of College Course Collaborative, which defines the subjects that can be completed for college credit.