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High School Equivalency (HSE)

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"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch

This section offers information about high school completion options for adults in Virginia and professional learning opportunities for instructors.

Adult secondary programs provide adults with various pathways to earn a high school credential. Programs are located in school divisions and funded through a combination of state grants and local funds. Individuals interested in enrolling in an adult secondary program should contact their local school division to inquire about available programs and to determine which option will best meet their educational needs.

In Virginia, there are five ways for adults to earn a high school credential:

See Virginia’s Department of Education website for more information: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/adulted/secondary_programs/index.shtml


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General Educational Development (GED®)

Currently, the only Virginia Board-approved high school equivalency examination in Virginia is the General Educational Development (GED) test, developed by the American Council on Education to enable persons who have not graduated from high school to demonstrate the attainment of abilities normally associated with the completion of a high school program of study. Delivered in a computer-based format, the test consists of four content areas: Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies.

See High School Equivalency (HSE) Credential or GED Testing Service for information about GED Testing in Virginia.

GED® Virginia Site for Students
Information for GED learners in Virginia: preparation, test registration, FAQs.
GED® Teacher Resource Center:
Free up-to-date information on GED Tests as well as classroom support.

GED® Testing Service
Find official information on testing procedures, accommodations, and publications and marketing materials.

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Adult High School Diploma Program

To obtain this credential, the adult student must complete all of the course requirements that were in place at the time they entered the ninth grade, with the exception of health and physical education. Certain requirements for specific assessments may be waived if the assessments are no longer administered to students in Virginia public schools. See Virginia’s Department of Education website for more information:
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/adulted/secondary_programs/index.shtml

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General Achievement Adult High School Diploma (GAAHSD)

The General Achievement Adult High School Diploma (GAAHSD) Program is intended to provide a diploma option for individuals who are at least 18 years of age, not enrolled in public education, and not subject to the compulsory attendance requirements of §22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia.

Requirements for earning the GAAHSD include prescribed standard units of credit; a passing score on a high school equivalency examination approved by the Virginia Board of Education; and the attainment of a Board-approved career and technical education credential, such as the successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia Workplace Readiness Skills Assessment. Standard credits required for the GAAHSD may be earned in a variety of educational settings, including public school; community college or other postsecondary institution; adult high school program; or approved correspondence, distance education, or online courses.

See Specific Requirements for the Completion of the GAAHSD (PDF) for more information on the requirements for earning the GAAHSD.

See Virginia’s Department of Education website for more information: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/adulted/secondary_programs/index.shtml

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National External Diploma Program (NEDPT)

The National External Diploma Program (NEDP), which leads to an adult high school diploma, is an applied performance assessment system that assesses the high school level skills of adults. Administered by Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS), the NEDP evaluates the reading, writing, math, and work force readiness skills of participants in life and work contexts. The program is self-paced, flexible, and has no timed tests. The program is for self-directed adult students who are comfortable working independently. Participation in local and regional external diploma programs is available to adults who are 18 years of age and older who did not complete high school and are not enrolled in public education. An adult high school diploma, recognized by the Virginia Board of Education, shall be awarded to an adult student who demonstrates through applied performance 100 percent mastery of the NEDP Generalized Competencies.

See NEDP for more information and a listing of NEDP program sites.

See Virginia’s Department of Education website for more information: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/adulted/secondary_programs/index.shtml

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Standard or Advanced Studies High School Diploma

This option, which leads to a standard high school diploma, requires enrollment in a Virginia public school division and the successful completion of the course requirements for current high school students. This includes passing any required Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments to earn verified credits.

See Virginia’s Department of Education website for more information: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/adulted/secondary_programs/index.shtml

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The VALRC, located at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU School of Education), is funded primarily through the VA Department of Education.