Virginia will continue advanced diplomas

Ali Patusky, Social Media Director

Advanced Diplomas will continue to be offered in all Virginia Public Schools. An emailed announcement by school guidance counselor, Mark Bjorkman, was sent out to faculty and staff on November 10 to dispel rumors that the diploma type would be discontinued.
The rumors was that starting in 2021, only Standard Diplomas would be offered to students, with no Advanced option.
“The biggest thing between an Advanced and Standard Diploma is [that] an Advanced Diploma is 26 Credits and five SOLs [Standards of Learning], and that Advanced Diplomas require foreign languages… either three of the same or two of two.” 
The class of 2020 was the last to have a requirement of nine SOL credits for an Advanced Diploma, two for each core academic area plus one extra. Now only five SOL credits, each with a passing score of 400 or above, are required for both types of diplomas. 
Last year, 57 percent of the senior class graduated with an Advanced Diploma, versus 37 percent who graduated with a Standard, according to statistics from the guidance office. In terms of college acceptance, Bjorkman said the difference comes down to curriculum more than diploma. 
“An Advanced Diploma does not get you into college. I could be a Standard Diploma student and I could have a stronger curriculum. It’s good if you can get it, but at the same time the curriculum, your SAT’s [Scholastic Aptitude Test], your GPA [Grade Point Average]…all that kind of stuff comes into play.”
Some departments are moving away from the standard SOL format and more towards a Project Based Assessment (PBA) to test students at the end of a term. In 2020, the PBA’s were implemented by the history teachers, and students did a “remarkable job,” said World History teacher Charles Keith in an email.
“In the Spring 2022 Term the history department is scheduled to pilot a PBA [project-based assessment] program. In place of taking a history SOL, some students will need to show competency and comprehension of certain social studies skills by passing a certain number of PBA projects,” 
This year’s projects will have some changes “because the new projects will come from the Virginia Department of Education and therefore are not teacher-produced projects,” said Keith.