High School Experience Redesign

The capacity to innovate, problem solve, and think critically, while collaborating and reflecting, is key for our students.  Several policy updates align with this thinking and will have an impact on our schools and students over the next several years. The Virginia Department of Education focus on the Profile of a Virginia Graduate may impact decisions in accountability and reporting as well as high school diploma requirements. This website outlines some of the key elements of the work around high school redesign and what it may mean for students in APS.  For a handout of this page, click here.

Virginia Department of Education Profile of a Virginia Graduate

Over the next several years, our schools will be impacted by the work of the Virginia General Assembly that will result in the redesign of high schools. This redesign will occur due to a greater emphasis on:

  • expanding the use of performance assessments and reducing the number of credits verified by SOL tests;
  • increasing internships and work-based learning experiences;
  • increasing career exposure, exploration, and planning; and
  • emphasizing critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship.

These areas of consensus are captured in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate as defined in the graphics below:

Profile of a VA Graduate

The Profile of a Virginia Graduate has been developed to describe the knowledge, skills,competencies, and experiences students should have in order to align with the expectations of higher education and businesses.

Diploma Requirements

The focus on the Profile of a Virginia Graduate will further impact our students as it leads to a shift in diploma requirements. These shifts, although not yet finalized (see the timeline below), have led to a review of the following diploma expectations by the Virginia Board of Education:

  • Potential New Requirements
    • Applied knowledge and experiential learning
    • Capstone project
    • Demonstration of critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication,and citizenship
    • Career exploration decision-making points and career investigation course
  • Establishment of one Virginia diploma (versus the current two including a Standard and Advanced Studies Diploma)
  • Increase in Mathematics requirements
  • Establishment of alternative options for Science

The specifics of the recommendations are captured in the table below.

High School Testing Expectations

Content Area ESSA Testing Standard Diploma Advanced Studies Diploma Proposed
Standard Units Verified Credits Standard Units Verified Credits Verified Credits
English 1 4 2 4 2 1
Math 1 3 1 4 2 1
Science 1 3 1 4 2 1
History/Social Science 3 1 4 2 1
Student Selected 1 1
Health & P.E. 2 2
Foreign Language, Fine Arts, or CTE 2
Foreign Language 3
Fine Arts or CTE 1
Economics & Personal Finance 1 1
Electives 4 3
Total 3 22 6 26 9 4

Timeline and Next Steps

The timeline below captures some of the key benchmarks in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate work that will be taking place over the next few years.

APS Timeline for ESSA, Virginia Profile of a Graduate, and diploma requirements implementation

As this work continues, we will be developing a detailed plan for high school redesign and collaboration across and within departments as well as with a variety of school and community members to support the many facets of these shifts.

For more information about ESSA and how the changes impact states and local districts, please visit the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) page.

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