The Standard Diploma reflects the basic achievement the Commonwealth sees as necessary for citizens; four English, three math (at or above the level of algebra), three science (from two science disciplines), and three social studies credits (including both VA/US History and VA/US Government), two Physical Education courses, one fine or practical art elective, two electives in sequence, and three other elective credits for a total of 22 credits.
The Advanced Diploma is encouraged to better prepare students for their post-secondary education choices.In addition to the academic core requirements of the Standard Diploma, Advanced Diploma recipients must complete three credits of a foreign language (or two credits in two languages), one additional credit each in Math, Science (from three science disciplines), and Social Studies, one fine or practical art and two other electives for 24 total credits.
The Special Diploma is granted to disabled students who complete their Individualized Education Plan objectives.
Standard vs. Verified Credits. Standards of Learning Tests (SOLs) are used to assess whether students have adequately mastered the course material of a given subject. The Commonwealth has added passage of a number of End of Course SOLs to its list of requirements for Standard and Advanced Diplomas. Passing the course yields a standard credit; passing the course and the corresponding SOL test together yields a verified credit.
Verified Credits per Diploma Type. Advanced Diploma requirements include 9 verified credits: two from English 11 (Writing and Reading), 2 each in math, science, and social studies, and another of the student's choosing. Standard Diploma requirements and beyond must earn two from English (Writing and Reading), one each in math, science, and social studies, and one of the student's choosing. The Modified Standard Diploma uses scores from 8th grade Math and Reading SOLs to verify credit. The Special Diploma students testing standard is the VAAP in 11th grade. Completion of some industry certifications and other national tests may be used for verified credit.
End of Course Tests. The following courses have SOL tests: English 10 (Writing), English 11 (Reading), Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II/Trigonometry, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, World History I, World History II, VA/US History. All students enrolled in these courses must take the End of Course Test, regardless of diploma type or number of SOLs already passed.
Administration. SOL tests are given at the end of the course (January and June). If a student scores between 375 and 399 (just short of the passing grade of 400), he/she is allowed to take an expedited retake, a special administration a few weeks after the original test. Students who have a standard credit but who have not passed the SOL for the verified credit may retake the SOL during one of the school year testing sessions or in the summer(remediation is encouraged).