New Profile of a Virginia High School Graduate: A Research Brief
by David Naff, M.A. (December 2016)
Guided by recommendations from the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee – a group of educators, policymakers, and community members charged by the Virginia Secretary of Education with furthering PK-12 education in the Commonwealth – the Virginia General Assembly has recently passed legislation through House Bill 895 and Senate Bill 336 directing the Board of Education to redefine the “Profile of a Virginia Graduate.” The legislation indicates that beginning with the freshman class of 2018, students receiving a diploma in the state of Virginia must adhere to new graduation standards that include life skills that could potentially enhance the academic, civic, and social/emotional competencies of those entering post secondary education and the workforce. Ultimately, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that Virginia high school graduates leave high school “life ready.” According to State Senator John C. Miller, “The vision … is that both college-bound and career-bound students will be much better-prepared to enter the workforce or to be successful in college.” However, in order to get students to that point it is necessary to know more about what resources will be required as well as what the intended and unintended consequences are of changing graduation standards. The purpose of this research brief is to provide background on the origins of the reform, summarize the rationale for the revised state high school graduation requirements, outline the timeline for implementation of the new standards, and explore the current research relevant to this policy initiative.