Dr. Jones is a former VASSP president, Professor and Chair, Leadership Studies Director, VASSP Center for Educational Leadership at Lynchburg College and author of the annual VASSP publication Changes in School Law. The following article encapsulates important changes to the SOA that will affect every student in the Commonwealth and is also a reminder of the power and authority of the General Assembly over K-12 education. The Administration and the State Board of Education advise and request, but the final authority rests with your elected representatives. Continue to make your voices heard.
As a result of 2012 General Assembly legislation, changes to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia are necessary. The state superintendent proposed emergency regulations to the Virginia Board of Education, and the Board approved these emergency regulations at its June meeting. The changes take effect beginning with first-time ninth graders during the 2013-2014 academic year. The regulations will follow the Administrative Process Act (APA) before they become permanent regulations. The revised regulations:
- Students must earn a career and technical education credential that has been approved by the State Board in order to graduate with a Standard Diploma. This credential could include, but not be limited to the successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia workplace readiness skills assessment.
- The regulations fold the Modified Standard Diploma into the Standard Diploma, and the Board of Education will establish, through guidelines, credit accommodations for students with disabilities. Such credit accommodations for students with disabilities may include:
- Approval of alternative courses to meet the standard credit requirements;
- Modifications to the requirements for local school divisions to award locally awarded verified credits;
- Approval of additional tests to earn a verified credit;
- Adjusted cut scores required to earn verified credit; and
- Allowance of work-based learning experiences.
- Regulations require students pursuing a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma to successfully complete one virtual course, which may be a credit or noncredit-bearing course.
- The Standard Technical Diploma and the Advanced Technical Diploma are eliminated.
- The regulations specify that the Advanced Studies Diploma is the recommended diploma for students pursuing baccalaureate study.
- Both the Standard and the Advanced Studies Diploma must prepare students for college and career readiness.
The emergency regulations, as submitted to the State Board, are available for review at: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2012/06_jun/agenda_items/item_c.pdf.
Principals are encouraged to review the emergency legislation and to share any issues or concerns with the Department of Education and the State Board of Education.