Most Virginia students graduate with either an Advanced Studies Diploma or a Standard Diploma. Other diploma options are available for eligible students with disabilities and adult learners. Use the links below to access information about diploma options and requirements:
Beginning with students entering ninth grade in the 2018-19 school year, students qualifying for an Advanced Studies Diploma must successfully complete two sequential electives for two full credits chosen from a concentration of courses that provide a foundation for further education, training or preparation for employment. Certain courses satisfy the requirement for Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education and for sequential electives. All students qualifying for a Standard Diploma must meet the same requirement.
Certificate of Program Completion
In accordance with the requirements of the Standards of Quality, students who complete coursework defined by the local school board but have not earned the required verified credits for diplomas are awarded Certificates of Program Completion.
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Individualized Student Alternative Education Program (ISAEP)
An ISAEP provides students at-risk of dropping out of school an educational experience that can prepare them for continued learning, successful employment, and responsible citizenship. A referral to ISAEP may be made by the student’s base school when a student demonstrates substantial need for an alternative program. The ISAEP recognizes that standard educational schedules and methods are not successful for all students. An ISAEP offers the opportunity of successful closure to one’s high school experience and opens the possibility for continuing education.
In order to be considered for an ISAEP, students must:
- Currently be enrolled in an Albemarle County high school;
- Be at least 16 and one year (6 or more credits) behind their entering class in credits earned;
- Achieve minimum entry test scores (a minimum of 410) on each of the five sections of the General Educational Development (GED) Practice Test and a minimum score of 7.5 on the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) Reading Test;
- Complete a visit to the program;
- Meet with their parent/guardian, school counselor, and ISAEP Coordinator prior to enrollment in ISAEP; and
- Complete a career-aptitude assessment.
Each ISAEP has the following components:
- Academic preparation for the GED exam;
- Career guidance and exploration (demonstrate proficiency in Virginia’s Workplace Readiness Skills);
- Occupational experience and/or training; and
- Econ PPF Credit.
The program is located on the campus of Murray High School. Students who pursue an ISAEP follow a class and career/technical schedule based on their individual situation. See your school counselor for more information.
Students meeting specific requirements for graduation and demonstrating exemplary performance may receive diploma seals for recognition. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) makes available multiple Graduation (Diploma) Seals of Achievement. For more information about each seal, including specific requirements, visit the
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Enriching Your High School Experience
To encourage students to enrich their high school educational experience and to increase the rigor of the high school program, the following choices are available:
Advanced Placement (AP)
The Advanced Placement (AP) program, offered by the College Board, enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. AP offers students the opportunity to participate in a rigorous curriculum that exposes students to high academic intensity and quality.
AP Examinations are administered each year in May and represent the culmination of college-level work in a given discipline in a secondary school setting. Rigorously developed by committees of college and AP high school faculty, the AP Exams test students' ability to perform at a college level. Students who perform well may earn college credit and/or advanced standing at thousands of universities worldwide.
Based on the amount of work required outside of the classroom, students who want to enroll in more than three Honors and/or AP level classes per semester should carefully consider their academic, personal and extracurricular activities. Students are encouraged to consult with their school counselor.
CollegeBoard website for more details about AP courses and exams, including exam dates and fees. Financial assistance is available for economically disadvantaged students. See a school counselor for more information.
View Advanced Placement Tests and Scores Accepted by Virginia Institutions »
Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit
Students may choose to get a jump-start on a college degree or certificate by taking college classes while in high school. This can be accomplished through Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit classes, which allow eligible students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously.
Students can save money toward higher education by taking Dual Enrollment classes, which are taught in their high school during the regular school day at no cost. Alternately, a student may choose to enroll in Dual Credit classes, which are taken on the college campus. Students are responsible for any expenses associated with Dual Credit classes.
Students participating in Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit courses follow the college add/drop policy and deadlines. Course offerings vary from year to year. Courses taken in the core areas (English, history/social sciences, mathematics, and science) are weighted as Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit courses.
Students who successfully complete these courses earn college credit from the partnering higher education institution.
Credit transfer to another college or university depends upon the policies of that individual college or university.
Albemarle County Public Schools offers a variety of Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit opportunities in partnership with Piedmont Virginia Community College. A smaller number of Dual Enrollment opportunities exist in partnership with Reynolds Community College.
Learn more about admission requirements at Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) »
Governor’s Senior Year Plus
Governor’s Senior Year Plus: Early College Scholars Agreement is intended to allow and to encourage eligible high school seniors to complete requirements for a high school diploma and concurrently earn at least 15 hours of transferable credits toward a college degree. This results in a more productive senior year and reduces the amount of college tuition for families. See your school counselor for more information.
Online Virtual Learning
Online Virtual Learning Opportunities provide opportunities for students to complete coursework in a virtual setting. Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) offers virtual courses led by ACPS Teachers that are aligned to the same standards and at the same level of rigor as traditional classroom offerings. Students may take virtual courses as a part of their regular course offerings. In addition, students may opt to take a virtual course through another educational institution.
For a complete listing of virtual courses offered through ACPS and guidelines for taking virtual courses at other institutions, visit our
Virtual Learning website or contact your school counselor.
Senior Capstone, Portfolios, and Work-Based Learning
Students will complete one or more of the following throughout their high school career: a senior capstone project, portfolio, performance-based assessment, or structured experiment that relates to a work-based learning, service-learning, or community engagement activity. Such capstone project, portfolio, performance-based assessment, or structured experiment shall align with and further develop the knowledge and skills attained through such work-based learning, service-learning, or community engagement activity.
Work-based learning (WBL) is a school-coordinated, coherent sequence of on-the-job experiences that relate to students’ career goals and/or interests, are based on instructional preparation, and are performed in partnership with local businesses, industries, or other organizations in the community. WBL enables students to apply classroom instruction in a real-world business or service-oriented work environment.
Virtual Virginia School
Virtual Virginia is a regular high school facilitated by the Virginia Department of Education. This virtual school offers a variety of Advanced Placement courses and non-AP courses, enabling students to earn college credit (through AP exams), regardless of their high school’s ability to offer college-level courses. Courses are available through satellite and Internet video streaming or online. There is a tuition charge for some courses. If a student drops a Virtual Virginia course, there is a $75 fee. Courses pursued through this method are those courses that are not offered at the high school.
View Virtual Virginia course offerings »
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Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, all ninth-grade students will be enrolled in a freshman seminar course during their first year of high school. The course will be designed to develop students in a number of ways that help them understand who they are as learners, community members, and friends. The course will be a credit-bearing elective course for students and will provide all students with a faculty mentor who will help to guide them to success in high school and beyond.
standard credit is awarded for a course in which the student successfully completes the objectives of the course and the equivalent of 140 clock hours of instruction. A
verified credit is awarded for a course in which the student earns a standard unit of credit
and achieves a passing score on a corresponding end-of-course SOL test or a substitute assessment approved by the Board of Education.
For responses to commonly asked questions about verified credits, visit the Board of Education's
Frequently Asked Questions About Earning a Virginia High School Diploma.
For specifics about verified credit requirements for transfer students, visit the Board of Education's
Information for Transfer Students page.
Ask your school counselor for more information about verified and locally verified credits.
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Levels in Courses
- The Division offers the following levels of core courses (in addition to AP and dual enrollment): Standard, Academic/Advanced, and Honors. Individual high schools will use school improvement planning to determine course levels that may be effectively combined to increase opportunities for students to participate in higher course levels. Currently, the Academic level represents a combined level typically serving students enrolled in Standard and Advanced level courses.
- Academic/Advanced level
- is offered as a college preparatory/ school-to-work program. Students in Academic/Advanced classes are engaged in a rigorous curriculum designed to stimulate and encourage academic growth and performance.
- Honors level
- is designed for students demonstrating exceptional aptitude and achievement in the discipline and a desire to pursue the curriculum beyond the Academic/ Advanced level of study. Honors students are expected to be self-motivated, independent learners able to engage in self-instruction through independent reading, projects, and research.
- This level structure is intended to provide schools, through the school improvement process, the flexibility to combine levels of classes. The Academic level combines Advanced and Standard levels. Other options might be pursued through the school improvement process with the goal of ensuring opportunity and access to high-level curriculum and instruction for all students.
- Elective courses will remain unleveled.
Student Course Load
All students through grade 12 shall maintain a full-day schedule of classes unless:
- A waiver is granted by the Superintendent/Designee;
- A recommendation of the principal and acceptance by a college or university has qualified a student to be released during school hours to take college or university courses. Tuition and transportation for these courses are the responsibility of the student; or
- Students are taking college courses for dual credit according to the Virginia accreditation standards.
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The Division’s grading scale is:
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Grade Point Average, Academic Achievement Program, and Weighted Grades
Grade Point Average (GPA)
GPA is determined by dividing the total grade points received by the total number of credits attempted.
Academic Achievement Program
The school division's academic achievement program recognizes all graduating seniors who earn an unweighted 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or better during their high school career. The primary objective of this program is to recognize students both for their consistently high performance throughout their four years of high school and for the contributions so many of them make to our high school communities.
We have three levels of academic honor recognitions. The following designations are affixed to the student's diploma:
Cum Laude, graduating
for students whose unweighted GPA is from 3.0 to 3.4
Magna Cum Laude, graduating
With Great Praise
for students whose unweighted GPA is from 3.5 to 3.7
Summa Cum Laude, graduating
With Highest Praise
for students whose unweighted GPA is 3.8 or higher
GPA will be calculated by dividing the total grade points received by the total number of credits attempted. As part of the school profile, each high school will report class size. Class rank will only be reported for special circumstances: military academies, honors programs, and scholarship opportunities.
|Grade||Standard/ Academic/ Advanced||Honors/AP/
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Early High School Program Completion
A student planning to satisfy all graduation requirements established by the Commonwealth of Virginia and Albemarle County Public Schools prior to his or her cohort’s graduation date may petition the school principal for early graduation. The student must write a plan in collaboration with school counseling staff and his or her parent or guardian including courses and other requirements to be fulfilled. The plan must also outline the student’s reason for requesting early graduation. Reasons may range from hardships to plans for early college attendance. A request for early graduation will be approved at the discretion of the school principal. Students wishing to graduate in a time period of less than four years must be able to show that they can meet their graduation requirements. In addition, students must show that they have a sustainable post graduation plan. Students whose plans are approved will be remain enrolled at the school through their graduation date unless special circumstances are determined by the principal.
Early Graduation Request Form
Regulations Governing the Secondary School Transcript
On March 29, 2007, the Virginia Board of Education adopted amended regulations governing the Secondary School Transcript. These revisions were made in order to strengthen the transcript regulations and to bring them into conformity with amended or new state and federal laws as well as the needs of higher education. The secondary school transcript regulations became effective for students taking secondary courses for credit beginning in the 2008-09 school year.
When parents request a transcript from the high school, the student’s "test record" is required by law to be on it, unless the parent has requested in writing that the information be excluded. "Test record" includes at least the highest score earned, if available, on college performance-related standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, and excludes Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores. NOTE: Parents/guardians who would like this information excluded from their child's high school transcript should contact their child's school counselor for the appropriate form.
Full-day absences will be noted on the transcript yearly.
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Virginia High School League
To be eligible for participation on athletic teams, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) requires that students be enrolled in five (5) credits (in progress) and have passed five (5) classes (earned credits for 5 classes) the previous semester. Repeating a course for which a passing grade was received does not count toward the required five courses for athletic eligibility. First semester 9th graders are eligible on the basis of their promotion from the 8th grade the previous semester. See Athletic Handbook for details.
- Any course in which a student receives a full credit during one semester may be doubled and counted as such for eligibility purposes.
- Any course taken every day or every other day (for an extended block; e.g., an A-B block) for the entire year counts as a stand alone course for one credit.
- Any semester course taken for partial credit counts as one course.
- 3 credit courses at CATEC count as three classes for VHSL Eligibility.
- In the case of hybrid schedules one must count the courses based upon what is outlined above. Here are some scenarios:
- Straight 4 x 4 (four courses taken each semester–each for one credit):
These are double and, as such, a student must past a minimum of three each semester to be eligible.
- 4x4 plus year long courses or semester courses:
Student is taking three 4 x 4 courses and 3 year long or semester courses. If the student fails one of the 4 x 4 courses (equivalent of four courses), he/she must pass at least one year long courses to attain the required “pass five” standard. If a student fails two of the 4 x 4 courses (equivalent of two courses), he/she must pass all three of the year long courses to attain 5 courses passed for credit.
Visit the VHLS Eligibility site »
NCAA – Academic Eligibility Requirements
If you want to play National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports at an NCAA Division I or II school, you need to register with the
NCAA Eligibility Center. The Eligibility Center works with you and your high school to certify your initial eligibility.
For more information about registering with the NCAA, view their
All Albemarle County high school students will graduate with a Career Plan. With the support of school counselors and career specialists, students will develop and refine their career plan through the four-year planning process.
Learn more about Career Planning »
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