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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.

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Currently, the only Virginia Board-approved high school equivalency examination in Virginia is the GED® test, which was developed 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. GED® Testing Service is a joint venture of the American Council on Education and Pearson VUE. 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 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
Up-to-date classroom supports, as well as approved test prep products.
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.

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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 Virgina's Department of Education website for more information.

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National External Diploma Program (NEDP)

The National External Diploma Program (NEDP) is a competency-based, applied performance assessment system leading to an Adult High School Diploma. Administered by trained local or regional adult education program staff, the blended assessment evaluates the reading, writing, math, digital literacy, and workforce readiness skills of participants in life and work contexts. The flexible, self-paced program requires participants to complete a series of online assignments which are tracked by an in-system clock and may be captured as distance learning hours. The online assignments are coupled with regular face-to-face meetings with an Advisor/Assessor which may be counted as contact hours. Only approved NEDP agencies that have completed the required training may offer the program. NEDP is owned and developed by Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS). 

For more information, please visit the CASAS website.

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Standard or Advanced Studies High School Diploma

Adult students who are enrolled in an Adult High School Program and complete all requirements of the diploma regulated by the Board of Education (Board), with the exception of health and physical education requirements, in effect at the time they will graduate and will be awarded a diploma as provided in 8VAC 20-131-50.

See Virginia's Department of Education website for more information.

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