Students must earn diploma to walk in graduation ceremonies - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Students must earn diploma to walk in graduation ceremonies


Students in Richmond may have a tougher time getting to commencement ceremonies. If you're looking forward to seeing your child walk in graduation ceremonies this June, there's new information about the requirements.

As you're sitting around your Thanksgiving table, asking your kids what's new with school, here's something you might want to keep in mind: thanks to a new rule adopted by Richmond Public Schools this year, if you haven't earned an actual diploma, you won't be walking in the graduation ceremony.

Commencement is really the icing on the cake for students, the culmination of everything they've worked for and something they look forward to for most of high school. Now, that ceremony isn't a guarantee. RPS will not allow students who only receive a "certificate of program completion" to participate in commencement. So, if you want to walk, you have to not only pass the required courses, but also the corresponding SOL tests. There are six for a standard diploma and nine for an advanced.

"It's going to help students understand if I want to walk across the stage in June, I have to do what's necessary in order to earn a diploma that's recognized by the state of Virginia," said Dr. Thomas Beatty, Richmond's Executive Director of Secondary Education.  

School officials believe this will help make students both college and career ready, whereas a certificate of completion could leave them hanging onto an uncertain future.

"Colleges and universities don't necessarily recognize a certificate of completion," Beatty explained. "Many employers won't recognize that. So I think we do our students a disservice in just saying ‘well you've gotten a certificate, you're now ready to go.'"

It's not too late to make sure students meet those requirements. There are opportunities to take the SOL tests December through June. A student could also come back during the summer, meet the requirements and go to commencement in August.

"Now is the time to have this conversation," Beatty added.

The school district also hopes this will increase graduation rates. For Richmond's class of 2012, that number was almost 74 percent.

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