Virginia Readiness Policies

Overview

Virginia
High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Virginia aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  

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Virginia
College and Career Planning in K-12

Seventh and eighth graders develop academic and career plans and receive counseling about opportunities for obtaining industry certifications prior to high school graduation, as well as learning about Advanced Placement and dual enrollment options. Students receive their academic and career plans before they enter the ninth and 11th grades. The plan includes a high school program of study that is aligned with a postsecondary career pathway and/or college entrance.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) administers a statewide, federally funded GEAR UP program to help low-income students prepare for college. The program delivers early college activities through summer school on college campuses, neighborhood academies and parental-involvement initiatives, and scholarships for eligible participants.

Virginia offers online resources through two Web portals: I-am-the-one.com and the Virginia Education Wizard (http://VAwizard.org). Both sites help students learn more about college and work-based learning opportunities.

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Virginia
High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must earn at least 22 standard units to earn a Standard Diploma. To receive an Advanced Diploma, students must earn four additional standard units. All students must complete at least one virtual course, which may be non-credit-bearing as well as earn a career and technical education credential that has been approved by the Virginia Board of Education. Examples include, but are not limited to, the successful completion of an industry certification or the passing of a state licensure exam, national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia Workplace Readiness Skills test. Students entering ninth-grade in the 2016-2017 school year and beyond must also be trained in Emergency First Aid, CPR and use of an AED.

Subject

Standard Diploma

Advanced Diploma

English

Four Credits

Four Credits

Math

Three Credits:

Algebra I

Geometry

Algebra or Functions and Data Analysis; Algebra II or another advanced math course

Four Credits: 

Algebra I

Geometry

Algebra II or another advanced math course

Laboratory Science

Three Credits:

Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Four Credits:

Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

History and Social Sciences

Three Credits:

U.S. and Virginia History

U.S. and Virginia Government

Either World History or Geography or both

Three Credits:

U.S. and Virginia History

U.S. and Virginia Government

Either World History or Geography or both

Foreign Language

Not Required

Three Credits: three years of a single foreign language or two years of two languages

Health and Physical Education

Two Credits

Two Credits

Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education

Two Credits

One Credit

Economics and Personal Finance

One Credit

One Credit

Electives

Four Credits: must include at least two sequential electives as required by the Standards of Quality

 Three Credits

Total Credits

22

26

Assessment Requirements

The Virginia State Board of Education requires districts to administer end-of-course exams through the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment program. Students who pass corresponding SOL assessments receive “verified credit” for those courses. Virginia has developed a battery of 12 exams in 11 subject areas: Algebra I and II, Biology I, chemistry, earth science, English (reading and writing), geometry, World History I and II, world geography, and Virginia and U.S. History.

Students pursuing the Standard Diploma must earn at least six verified units of credit by passing corresponding SOL exams. Students pursuing the Advanced Diploma must earn at least nine verified units of credit by passing corresponding SOL exams. In addition to the verified credits for the four core subjects, students may also select an SOL assessment or alternate tests in computer science, career and technical education (CTE), or other areas approved by the state board of education. See table below:

Verified Credits Required for Graduation with a Standard or Advanced Diploma

Subject

Standard Diploma

Required Credits

Standard Diploma

Verified Credits

Advanced Diploma

Required Credits

Advanced Diploma

Verified Credits

English

4

2

4

2

Math

3

1

4

2

Laboratory Science

3

1

4

2

History and Social Sciences

3

1

4

2

Health and Physical Education

1

 

2

 

Foreign Language, Fine Arts, or Career and Technical Education

 1

 

1

 

Economics and Personal Finance

1

 

1

 

Electives

4

 

3

 

Student Selected Test*

 

1

 

1

Total 

22

6

26

9

*NOTE: A student may utilize additional tests for earning verified credit in computer science, technology, career or technical education, economics or other areas as prescribed by the board in 8VAC20-131-110.

The state department of education, in consultation with higher education faculty, has developed English and math Capstone Courses, for students who have completed required courses, earned at least two “verified” credits, but are not fully college ready. The Virginia General Assembly funds academies for students at risk of not meeting college and career readiness benchmarks through a program called Project Graduation.

The department of education produces school and district report cards, which include the number and percentage of students participating in Advanced Placement and dual credit programs, SOL test results, and the number of students who receive a career and technical education credential.

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Virginia
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.

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Virginia
Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

Institutional governing boards set admissions requirements and minimum qualifying scores on college entrance exams. Colleges and universities consider high school curriculum, GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and class rank when making admissions decisions.

Through system-wide agreements, students who graduate from a transfer-oriented degree program at a Virginia Community College System institution with an associate’s degree are eligible for guaranteed admission to more than 30 public and private four-year institutions, provided they meet minimum GPA requirements.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Applicants are eligible for admission if they possess a high school diploma or an equivalency credential, or if they are 18 years of age or older and demonstrate an ability to benefit from postsecondary instruction, as measured by the Virginia Placement Test (VPT). Students who do not achieve the scoring benchmarks will only be permitted to enroll in non-credit classes.

Readiness Assessment Benchmarks

Subject VPT COMPASS ASSET
Writing ENF1 32 35
Reading ENF1 62 35
Math MTE1 25 33

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Virginia
Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

Assessment and placement policies for public four-year colleges and universities in Virginia are determined by each institution’s governing board.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

The Virginia Placement Test for Math (VPT‐Math) identifies the specific skills a student needs to complete to be eligible for a specific college‐level math course. The Virginia Placement Test for English (VPT‐English) includes an essay component designed to assess incoming students’ English preparedness and place them into the appropriate English course. Students who are considered nearly college ready may enroll directly into College Composition I (ENG 111) while co‐enrolling in a two‐credit‐hour developmental English course.

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Virginia
State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The state funds five major grant programs.

Virginia’s public institutions provide the Virginia Commonwealth Award, a need-based grant, to eligible students. The state funds the program through legislative appropriations. While institutions choose award amounts, state law requires that institutions award aid in such a way that the students with the greatest need receive the largest awards. To apply for the award, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Public institutions also may award the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program, which provides financial aid to full-time students who demonstrate financial aid and graduate from high school with a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5. To renew aid, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and demonstrate continued financial need.

Students who earn associate degrees may qualify for the Two-Year College Transfer Grant. The base award provides $1,000 per year to students who completed their associate degree at a Virginia community college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, enroll full-time in a four-year institution, and have an Expected Family Contribution of $12,000 or less. Students enrolled in science, teaching, engineering, math or nursing fields are eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year.

The New Economy Workforce Credential Grant pays two-thirds of the cost of enrolling in a high-demand industry certification program. The program requires students to receive an industry-based certification or state licensure to avoid repaying a portion of the grant.

The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program provides financial aid for students attending in-state, nonpublic institutions. The maximum 2017-18 award is $3,300.

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Virginia
Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The Virginia Department of Education publishes annual postsecondary enrollment reports by school and district. The data tables break down enrollment by institutional sector and demographic subgroup. Districts have access to remedial enrollment, credit accumulation, and degree and certificate completion, and graduates’ employment rates, and share this information with students and families annually. School divisions can do so by linking to the SCHEV Research website. All public and private institutions receiving any general fund support (including the Tuition Assistance Grant) link to the website to provide the same information to students and prospective students.