IW students will graduate on time

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2020

By Stephen Faleski

Staff writer

High school seniors who were enrolled in a course required for graduation prior to March 13, 2020, will still receive credit for that course and be allowed to graduate on time, despite schools remaining closed for the rest of the academic year. This is according to the Virginia Department of Education, which announced flexibility for the class of 2020 in meeting state graduation requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The governor and I agree that every student who was on a trajectory toward earning a diploma should be able to graduate on time and move on to the next stage of his or her life,” said VDOE Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane via a  press release. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Using the authority granted to him under Gov. Ralph Northam’s March 12 executive order, which declared a state of emergency in Virginia, Lane is extending this flexibility to: seniors who have not earned a required career and technical education credential; seniors who have not completed a fine or performing arts course; seniors who were unable to complete sequential course requirements; and seniors who have not completed a course in economics and personal finance. Seniors who have successfully completed a required course for graduation but have not yet received their associated verified credit — which is earned by passing not only the course but also an associated Standards of Learning test — will also receive credit, despite not having completed the end-of-course SOL, as will seniors who have not yet passed a required student-selected SOL.

According to Charles Pyle, the VDOE’s director of media relations, most high school seniors in the commonwealth are on track not only to graduate, but also to earn an advanced studies diploma. This is by virtue of having entered high school prior to 2018, when the state still required students to complete nine SOLs in English, math, science and history in order to graduate. In 2017, the VDOE revised its standards of accreditation for public schools, reducing the total number of SOLs required for a standard high school diploma for students entering their freshman year of high school during or after the 2018-2019 school year.

“The majority of these students have already passed all of those tests, or only lack one or two,” Pyle explained.

He then added that in school divisions offering distance learning opportunities, such as Isle of Wight, it will be up to the local schools and school boards to decide whether any student work submitted electronically gets graded. If it is graded, there must be equity in terms of the ability of all students to earn a grade that will impact their overall high school GPA. That means that all students, including those with disabilities, English learners and those who may not have the same technology or internet access as others, must all be provided with an equal chance of success.

According to Lynn Briggs, spokeswoman for Isle of Wight County Schools, the division has for the most part not been grading assignments given to students via distance learning. Grading policies for high school students taking dual enrollment classes, which count for both high school and college credit, are at the discretion of Camp Community College, she said, with grading at IWCS only to provide feedback to students rather than anything that would impact a student’s GPA or transcript. {/mprestriction}