Earn Your High School Diploma in Virginia

Mar 02, 2018

Adult diploma programs and equivalency certificates for both adults and teenagers are available throughout Virginia. Local high schools, 2-year colleges and community centers may host assessment tests and individual classes.

Education Centers and Programs

In Virginia, both adult and teen students have alternative high school options available to them. Completion of these programs can help students complete their postsecondary educational goals. These programs are offered through the Office of Adult Education and Literacy throughout the state. Many of these programs prepare students to take the GED test. Additional information on Virginia's alternative high school programs can be found below.

Virginia's High School Diploma Programs for Adults

The General Educational Development (GED) certificate is readily available to individuals to demonstrate high school equivalency. The Virginia Board of Education also offers two adult high school diploma programs. Students who are at least 18 years old and have dropped out or left high school without a diploma can take classes to acquire a General Achievement Diploma. Working adults with a healthy amount of life experience should consider the National External Diploma Program.

General Educational Development (GED) Equivalency Certificate

The General Educational Development certificate can be earned by successfully completing a series of four tests. The four subject areas are reasoning through language arts, social studies, science and math. Most counties and large cities in Virginia provide a location where students can take the GED tests. Test takers must score 145 or higher on each of the four tests for a total score of 580 or above. Test preparation is available at the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center and online.

National External Diploma Program (NEDP)

This program is for adults who are at least 18 years old and have not been in school for some time. It is appropriate for individuals who feel that their job experience has provided them with an adequate education. After an initial diagnosis of the applicants' proficiency in English and math, applicants are informed on the areas which need improvement, if any. They are then directed toward local services that can provide classes or training in these areas. After passing the diagnosis, applicants must then complete a number of tasks that demonstrate life skills. While this is a federal program, individuals access it through local school boards and adult education centers.

General Achievement Diploma

Students who are too old to obtain a high school diploma through normal enrollment in a public school can pursue a General Achievement Adult High School Diploma (GAAHSD). It differs from the external diploma in that its requirements are classroom-based instead of work-related. Twenty credit hours, encompassing English, math, science and social studies, including one hour of Virginia history, are required. Nine hours of electives are also included within the 20-hour requirement. These credits can be obtained from online courses, community colleges and adult high school programs. Applicants must also pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam and complete a training program allotted by the board, such as a 'Career Readiness Certificate.'

Individual Student Alternative Education Plan (ISAEP)

Current high school students who are 16 to 18 and are having exceptional difficulty with traditional, classroom-based instruction may apply for the program described below. Before enrolling, students must achieve a passing score on each section of the GED-Ready practice exam, pass a reading comprehension test, undergo a general evaluation and attend a meeting with a parent and high school principal.

The Individual Student Alternative Education Plan is not considered a replacement for a traditional high school education. It is designed for exceptional circumstances only, especially when a student is at risk of dropping out. The plan's focus is on preparing students to take the GED exam to earn an equivalency certificate. Vocational training and counseling are also major parts of the curriculum. The specifics depend largely on the school district, and not all school districts offer the ISAEP option.

Why Get a High School Diploma in Virginia

As you have read above, Virginia has five options for individuals looking to complete their high school education and gain a diploma or certificate. In the 2016 American Community Survey, more than 27 million adults 25 years and older have not received a high school diploma or certificate. Virginia understands the importance of these credentials and offers a variety of services that will fit each person's need. With more education comes a better quality of life, and Virginia is ready to help.

Contact Information

  • Address: Office of Adult Education & Literacy, Virginia Department of Education, P.O. Box 2120, Richmond, VA 23218
  • Phone Number: 804-786-3347
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