Course Guide: Diplomas & Certificates

Standard Diploma

A student must earn at least 22 standard units of credit by passing required courses and electives, and earn at least six* verified credits by passing end-of-course SOL tests or other assessments approved by the Board of Education. Credit accommodations allow students with disabilities to earn a Standard Diploma.

Advanced Studies Diploma

A student must complete the same requirements as the Standard Diploma and earn at least 26 standard units of credit and at least nine* verified credits by passing end-of-course SOL tests or other assessments approved by the Board of Education. 

Other Notable Diploma Requirements (Standard and Advanced Studies)

  • Students must earn 2 sequential elective credits for Standard Diploma (all students) and Advanced Studies Diploma (students entering 9th grade in 2018-19 and beyond).
  • All students MUST take a virtual course – it may be non-credit bearing.
  • Students entering 9th grade in 2016 and beyond must be trained in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of automated external defibrillators, including hands-on practice of the skills necessary to perform CPR to earn a Standard or Advanced Studies diploma.
  • Students must earn a CTE credential for Standard Diploma (all students entering 9th grade prior to 2018).
  • Students entering 9th grade in 2018 and beyond must complete an Advanced Placement, honors, or International Baccalaureate course, or earn a career and technical education credential.
  • Students shall acquire and demonstrate foundational skills in the 5 Cs - critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship in accordance with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate approved by the board.

Diploma Requirements

 

Standard Diploma

(9th graders entering in 2017 & prior)

Advanced Studies Diploma

(9th graders entering in 2017 & prior)

Standard & Advanced Studies Diplomas (9th graders in 2018-and beyond)
Discipline Area 22 Standard Credits 6 Verified Credits* 26 Standard Credits 9 Verified Credits* 5 Verified Credits* 
English 4 2* 4  2* 2* 
Mathematics 3
Two different courses from the following: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra Functions & Data Analysis, Algebra 2, or other courses above the level of Algebra 2
1 4
Three different courses from the following: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, or other math courses above the level of Algebra 2 
Laboratory
Sciences
3
Two different science disciplines from the following: Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
1 4
Three different science disciplines from the following: Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics 
Social Studies 3
World History & Geography (1), U.S. & Virginia History (1), U.S. & Virginia Government (1)
1  4
World History & Geography (2), U.S. & Virginia History (1), U.S. & Virginia Government (1)
Health & Physical Education 2    2    
World Language, Fine Arts or CTE 2
1 credit has to be Fine Arts or CTE
   3
Must take one world language for three years or two languages for two years
   
Economics & Personal Finance 1    1    
Electives 4 1 other  4
1 credit has to be Fine Arts or CTE
1 other   

Verified Credits*

Students are required to earn a specified number of verified credits in order to meet the graduation standards for Standard and Advanced Studies diplomas. Students earn verified credits by passing designated core classes (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, World Studies 1, World Studies 2, U.S. History, English 10, and English 11) and passing the corresponding SOL tests or approved substitute tests.
*Students entering 9th grade in 2018-19 and beyond must only earn five verified credits for the Standard and Advanced Studies Diploma.
*To earn the English writing verified credit, students entering 9th grade in 2017-2018 and beyond will complete a portfolio including a total of three writing performance-based assessments in grades 9 through 11. Several waivers were issued for 19-20 and 20-21. See VDOE website for details.

Applied Studies Diploma (formerly Special Diploma)

Available to students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and who do not meet the requirements for other diplomas. The decision to pursue this diploma is made by the student's IEP team. Credits recommended for graduation with an Applied Studies Diploma (as prescribed by the IEP team):

Discipline Area Credits Required
English 4
Math 3
Science 2
History & Social Science 2
Health & Physical Education 2
Fine Arts or CTE 1
Electives 6
Total Credits 20

Certificate of Program Completion

Available to students who complete prescribed programs of studies defined by a local school board but who do not qualify for diplomas.

General Achievement Diploma (GAD)

Available to students 18 years or older who meet the criteria set by the Board of Education. The requirements for the General Achievement Diploma include prescribed standard units of credit and a passing score on the General Educational Development (GED) examination.

General Education Development Certificates (GED)

Refer to Regulations Governing General Education Development Certificates (8 VAC 20-360-10, et. seq.), see http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2006/inf131.html

Diploma Seals

Students meeting requirements for graduation and demonstrating exemplary performance may receive diploma seals for recognition.

Governor's Seal – Awarded to students who complete the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of ‘B’ or better, and successfully complete college-level coursework that will earn the student at least nine transferable college credits in Advanced Placement (AP) or dual enrollment courses.

Board of Education Seal – Awarded to students who complete the requirements for a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of ‘A’.

Board of Education's Career & Technical Education Seal – Awarded to students who:

  • Earn a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and complete a prescribed sequence of courses in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that they choose and maintain a ‘B’ or better average in those courses
  • OR pass an examination or an occupational competency assessment in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that confers certification or occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade, or professional association
  • OR acquire a professional license in that career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Board of Education's Excellence in Civics Education Seal – Awarded to students who meet each of the following four criteria:

  • Satisfy the requirement to earn a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma
  • Complete Virginia & United States History and Virginia & United States Government courses with a grade of ‘B’ or higher
  • Complete 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities.
  • Have good attendance and no disciplinary infractions as determined by local school board policies.

Board of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy – Awarded to students who earn a Board of Educations-approved diploma and:

  • Pass all required End-of-Course Assessments in English reading and writing at the proficient or higher level
  • Demonstrate proficiency at the intermediate-mid level or higher in one or more languages other than English as demonstrated through an assessment form a list approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. American Sign Language qualifies as a language other than English.

The Board of Education’s Seal for Excellence in Science and the Environment shall be awarded to students who earn either a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma and: (i) complete at least three different first-level board-approved laboratory science courses and at least one rigorous advanced-level or postsecondary-level laboratory science course, each with a grade of “B” or higher; and (ii) complete laboratory or field-science research and present that research in a formal, juried setting; and (iii) complete at least 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities that involve the application of science such as environmental monitoring, protection, management, or restoration.
This seal is available to students who entered the ninth grade for the first time in the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter.

Honor Graduate - Honor graduates with an overall GPA of 3.5 will be recognized during Senior Awards. Honor graduates receive a diploma seal.

Powhatan County Community Service Learning Seal – Awarded to students who complete 80 hours (or 20 hours annually for transfers) of community service to non-profit organizations during high school according to the set criteria.

Student Academic & Career Plan - Grades 6-12

Students will utilize Major Clarity to assist with career investigation and planning. In addition, students may refer to available career clusters: http://cteresource.org/curriculum/. (not all courses may be available through PCPS).