Chapter VI: Instruction

6.01: Purpose

The Smyth County School Board is responsible for providing quality education for all students. The purpose of the school is to transmit knowledge and to see that such knowledge is translated into desirable action. The instructional program should develop the power to reason, build strong moral character, instill appropriate values, develop respect for authority and the rights of others, emphasize patriotism, and develop vocational competence.

Role of the Principal

Standards of Quality and Objectives 1980-82; Standards for Accreditation

The principal shall be responsible for:

  1. Preparing and implementing an annual school improvement plan.
  2. Developing a school handbook of policies and procedures.
  3. Coordinating the services of all school personnel.
  4. Assigning students to classes, programs, and activities designed to promote maximum learning.
  5. Ensuring that instructional materials and equipment are used to provide learning experiences appropriate to the educational needs of all students.
  6. Establishing methods of evaluating student progress and the effectiveness of the instructional program.
  7. Providing direct instructional supervision and assistance to teachers.
  8. Evaluating the performance of teachers and other employees in the school.

Role of the Teacher

Standards of Quality for Public Schools in Virginia; Standards for Accreditation

The teacher shall be responsible for:

  1. Maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect and courtesy in the learning environment.
  2. Providing a personal model for effective communications through language usage, grammar, and spelling.
  3. Establishing daily teaching objectives which:
    1. Identify the learning expected of students.
    2. Keep students engaged in learning tasks.
    3. Allow the teacher to spend a majority of time in direct teaching activities.
  4. Providing for individual differences through the use of varied materials and activities suitable for students with different interests and abilities.
  5. Assess the progress of students and report to students and parents by:
    1. Evaluating students' work promptly and constructively.
    2. Certifying whether each student has mastered applicable learning objectives.

6.04: Curriculum/Graduation and Diploma Requirements

(22.1-200 to 22.1-208) Standards for Accreditation

The curriculum shall meet the requirements of the Code of Virginia and Regulations of the State Board of Education.

The elementary school (K-5) shall provide instruction in each of the following areas:

  1. Language Arts - listening, speaking, reading, composition, handwriting, spelling, grammar and usage, thinking and study skills, and library skills.
  2. Mathematics - sets, numbers, numeration, operations, geometry, measurement, and problem solving./li>
  3. Social Studies - history, geography, economics, government, citizenship, sociology, and anthropology.
  4. Science - physical, life, and earth-space.
  5. Health, Physical Education and Safety - physiology, hygiene, and health education.
  6. Fine Arts - music and art.

Each middle level school shall provide each student a program of learning experiences organized to meet the needs of early adolescence and each school shall provide instruction in the following disciplines:

The eighth grade shall provide a minimum of eight offerings:

Level one of a foreign language and Algebra I shall be available to eighth grade students.

The secondary school shall offer each year in grades 9-12 a minimum of 38 units which shall be distributed as follows:

The Standard Unit of credit for graduation shall be based on a minimum of 150 clock hours of instruction.

The minimum academic offering in the secondary school shall include the following:

English4 Units
Electives4 Units
Mathematics4 Units
Vocational11 Units
Science4 Units
Fine Arts2 Units
Social Studies4 Units
Health/PE2 Units
Foreign Language3 Units

The secondary school shall require minimum units for graduation as indicated:

Here are the credit requirements for a standard diploma.
Discipline AreaCreditsVerified Credits
Laboratory Science31
History and Social Sciences31
Health and Physical Education2 
Fine Arts or Practical Arts1 
Student-Selected Test 1
Here are the credit requirements for an advanced studies diploma.
Discipline AreaCreditsVerified Credits
Laboratory Science42
History and Social Sciences42
Foreign Language3 
Health and Physical Education2 
Fine Arts or Practical Arts1 
Student-Selected Test 1

*A student may elect to pass an examination to be exempted from the computer class requirement. This exam will be taken at the conclusion of the required seventh grade exploratory computer course or may be taken by high school students at any time. Students who do not pass the examination to be exempted from the computer class requirement will be required to successfully complete the requirements of one high school computer class.

**This requirement may be satisfied by satisfactory completion of an advanced composition class, a course in journalism, or by completion of three honors English classes from any English 9, 10, 11, or AP English 12.

To earn an Advanced Studies Diploma, students must complete a mathematics sequence which includes Algebra I, two courses above the level of Algebra I, and a science sequence which includes units of credit in at least three (3) of the following subjects: (1) earth science, (2) biology, (3) chemistry, (4) physics. Fine arts or practical arts courses must be selected from a list of courses approved for graduation requirements by the State Board of Education.

In any high school credit-bearing course taken in middle school, parents may request that the grades be omitted from the student's transcript and the student not earn high school credit for the course.

The request must be in writing, signed and dated by the parent/legal guardian and the student. The request must be made before the next school year begins. Minimum information will be student grades, examination grade, final grade and SOL assessment when appropriate.

A verified credit earned by passing the SOL end-of-level test may not be awarded if the grade has been removed from the student's transcript. If the student repeats and passes the course, the verified credit will be awarded and the student will not be required to retake the SOL end-of-level test for that course.

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6.07: Transition and Articulation Plan

Careful planning and effective coordination between feeder schools and receiving schools will insure that the transition from one school to the other is a smooth and positive experience for students. Professional staff involved in working with the students through the transition experience must be knowledgeable of the process and instrumental in its fruition. All programs must be carefully articulated between the schools involved. Two committees are to be established to accomplish this task: a school-based Transitional Committee and a Joint Transitional Committee.

Each school shall establish a standing School Transitional Committee to develop relevant transitional activities at the home school. This committee shall merge, when appropriate, with other schools' Transitional Committees to form a Joint Transitional Committee.

The purpose of the Joint Committee is to:

  1. Coordinate curriculum and instructional efforts
  2. Promote an atmosphere of comfort, safety, and familiarity for students, and
  3. Plan and coordinate all articulation and transitional activities.

This committee shall be composed of the principal, a guidance counselor, and three teachers (including one special education teacher) from each feeder and receiving school. This committee is to elect a chairperson at its first meeting each year, such person is to be responsible for documentation of plans, activities, and schedules for the year. A plan of action is to be submitted to the superintendent September 1 of each year with a final report of action taken submitted by July 1.

This Joint Transitional Committee is responsible for planning the following activities:

  1. Orientation of receiving school faculty concerning the school concepts and characteristics of the feeder school students.
  2. Orientation of the feeder school faculty concerning the philosophies, objectives, and expectations of the receiving school.
  3. Biannual meetings of feeder and receiving school departments, grade groups, and/or teams for the purpose of articulation.
  4. Receiving school guidance personnel meetings with feeder school transitional students to discuss scheduling and other aspects of the new school.
  5. Guided tours of new school. The receiving school principal is responsible for making sure that these tours are conducted as scheduled. These tours are to include:
    1. Student orientation at the new school
    2. Written information concerning the new school including policies, rules, and expectations
    3. Other activities and materials that may help provide a smooth transition.

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6.16: Extracurricular Activities

Accreditation Standards for Secondary Schools

Extracurricular activities must be approved by the superintendent and the school board. The organization for and implementation of such approved activities shall be the responsibility of the principal. All such activities shall be designed to promote character and develop leadership ability, and shall be organized and administered so as to supplement rather than interfere with the regular classroom program. Students should not be permitted to participate in clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities to the point that such participation interfere with academic achievement.

6.17: Interscholastic Activities

Standards for Accrediting Secondary Schools

Interscholastic athletic activities at the middle school and high school level must be approved by the superintendent and the school board. The organization for and implementation of such activities shall be the responsibility of the principal. Each high school shall be a member of, and shall conduct all interscholastic activities in accordance with, rules established by the Virginia High School League. The provisions of this policy will include such non-athletic interscholastic activities such as forensics, one-act plays, and literary competition when such comes under the auspices of the Virginia High School League. Competitive sports of a varsity nature (i.e. scheduled league contests) are prohibited at the elementary school level.

6.18: Deleted

6.19: Intramural Activities

Intramural activities are encouraged in all schools. These activities should be structured to meet the needs and interests of all pupils. Primary emphasis should be placed on participation rather than competition. Students should be involved in the planning and implementation of intramural programs.

6.20: Assembly Programs

Assembly programs shall have the purpose of broadening the educational experiences for the total school population. The schedule for all regular programs should be prepared and printed in the school calendar, and should be planned to permit maximum student participation.

6.21: Pilot Programs

The school board encourages the development and implementation of experimental and innovative programs. Assessment of educational needs should be the basis for such proposed programs.

The purposes for conducting pilot studies are to develop new knowledge about important problems in education, to devise new methods for solving problems, and to demonstrate how research findings may be applied to education practice.

Applications for pilot programs must be submitted to the superintendent for approval by the school board.

6.22: Summer Schools

Standards For Accrediting Secondary Schools (22.1-211)

The purpose of summer school is to allow high school students to repeat coursework as may be necessary and/or take new courses. Bus transportation will be made available to transfer students from their respective home school to their assigned summer program.

The length of the summer program will be 140 hours of class time for students enrolled in new courses and 70 hours for repeat courses. Students may be charged a registration fee.

A new course is defined as either a course which has not been previously taken or as a course previously taken in which the student earned a numerical grade of 59 percent or lower.

A repeat course is defined as a course previously taken in which the student earned a numerical grade of 60 percent or better.

The summer school enrollment policy is as follows:

  1. A student may enroll for not more than one new course per summer session.
  2. With the exception of seniors who qualify for graduation at the end of summer school, a student taking a new course may not also take repeat courses. Seniors who qualify may be permitted to take one new and one repeat course with prior approval of the principal.
  3. A student not taking a new course may enroll for up to two repeat courses.

The school board, upon the recommendation of the superintendent, may require, under compulsory school attendance laws, attendance in a special program of prevention, intervention, or remediation in a summer school session.

Revised: June 12, 2006

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6.30: Homebound Instruction

Children who are unable to attend regular public day schools because of physical disabilities, disease, emotional disorders, or long-term illness may become eligible for home instruction. Home study and instruction may be approved for credit provided that it meets the Regulations of the State Department of Education as stated in the Standards for Accrediting Secondary Schools in Virginia.

6.31: Home Instruction

Home instruction in Smyth County is available as an alternative to compulsory school attendance. All conditions under which home instruction may be conducted are based on Section 22.1-254 and 22.1-254.1 of the Code of Virginia and upon regulations issued by the Virginia Board of Education.

The following procedure will be followed for granting credit for courses through home instruction when the courses are intended to meet graduation requirements:

  1. The student desiring credit for courses taken through home instruction shall provide to the school a list of courses taken, the objectives for each course and evidence of achievement.
  2. Should the placement process require more than one day, the student will be placed in those courses that seem appropriate according to the school records. Such placement is temporary, and parents or legal guardians should be so informed. The principal and guidance counselor will determine course credit.
  3. If sufficient information is not available to determine course credit, an examination may be required.
  4. Credit granted by the Smyth County schools for courses taken under home instruction shall be indicated as such on the student’s scholastic record. Grades shall be recorded at (P) pass or (F) fail.

Students earning more than one-fourth the minimum number of credits for graduation while on home instruction shall not be considered for class rank.

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6.34: Honor Rolls

The purpose of an honor roll system is to provide an incentive for students to reach their potential in academic programs.

Honor Roll Determination: High School

Honor roll recognition for high school students will be determined as follows:

First Honor Roll: GPA of 4.0 or above with no individual course grade below a C.

Second Honor Roll: GPA of 3.0 or above with no individual course grade below a C.

Honor Roll Determination: Middle School

Honor roll determination for middle school students will be determined as follows:

First Honor Roll: A grade of A in all subjects taken

Second Honor Roll: No individual course grade below a B.

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6.41: Teacher Aides

Teacher aides may be employed in specific classrooms to perform such duties as the superintendent shall designate. All teacher aides will hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED). Teacher aides will work under the direct supervision of teachers in direct instructional and non-instructional activities.

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6.44: Grading System

A major component in the evaluation of a student's progress is the grading system. The most important factor in determining a grade is the attainment of the fundamentals of a particular course. Evaluative criteria may include periodic tests, in-class and/or home work assignments, class discussions, desire to learn, attempts to complete assignments, initiative, capability, regular attendance, and promptness in completing assignments. Performance on SOL tests should be an important factor in determining the pass/fail status of students in their individual courses, and should be considered along with other factors listed as evaluative criteria. The grading system should not be used to penalize a student for disruptive behavior or discipline problems.

Each teacher should adequately determine the weight each of the evaluative criteria should be assigned in determining that grade which best represents that progress made by the individual student.

A report card will be prepared for reporting the student's grades and progress to the parents or guardian each grading period.

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6.47: Alternative Method for Granting Credit

Alternative methods for granting unit credit may be developed with the approval of the school principal and the division superintendent. The course or work experience for which credit is awarded must be:

  1. Comparable in scope to the scope of a corresponding course meeting the standard of 140 clock hours of instruction;
  2. Based on a set of performance objectives for a well-defined course of study which will clearly indicate that, upon completion, the student will have met the aims and objectives of the course as evidenced through the mastery of certain predetermined skills, knowledge, and values associated with the course; and
  3. Evaluated by procedures developed to measure the progress of students in this program including criterion-referenced tests or standardized norm-referenced tests.

Revised: June 12, 2006

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6.50: Dual Credit Courses

Whenever possible, students shall be encouraged and afforded opportunities to take college courses simultaneously for high school graduation and college degree credit, under the following conditions:

  1. Prior written approval of the high school principal for the cross registration must be obtained;
  2. The course being taken must be comparable in scope to the corresponding high school course meeting the standards of 140 clock hours of instruction;
  3. The course being taken must be based on a set of performance objectives which will clearly indicate that, upon completion, the student will have met the aims and objectives set out in the corresponding high school course;
  4. The course to be taken must be given by the college for degree credit (hence, no remedial courses will be accepted);
  5. The college must accept the student for admission to the course;
  6. The college course must be taken in sequence comparable to the sequence provided by the student's home high school;
  7. An official grade transcript must be received by the home high school prior to the high school granting credit.

Revised: June 12, 2006

6.51: Deleted

6.52: Courses Retaken: Grade Point Average

When a student receives an F in a course for which high school credit is granted the F shall remain on the student's permanent record and be included in determination of the high school grade point average, regardless of whether the student retakes the course. The grade earned if/when the student retakes the course will also be included in determination of the high school grade point average.

Should a student choose to retake a course for which the student received a passing grade and a course credit, the grade listed on the student's permanent record and included in determination of the high school grade point average will be the higher of the grade received when the course was originally taken or when the course was retaken.

Beginning with the class of 2001, this policy shall not apply to ninth grade and above classes taken at the eighth grade level.

For purpose of this policy, regular class and a weighted class in the same subject area shall not be considered the same course.

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6.54: Dual Credit/AP Drop Procedures

Within the following policy guidelines, students enrolled in Dual Credit classes or AP classes will be permitted to drop the class:

  1. The student could transfer to a regular level course, provided that class is available for enrollment.
  2. If the regular level course is not available at that time, the student could enroll in the regular level class during the next semester or next year (guideline #3 would not apply).
  3. All grades earned while enrolled in the dual credit or advanced placement class would count toward the final average of the student transferred to the regular level class.
  4. The student would not be eligible for weighted grade status if they transfer from a dual credit or AP class to a regular level course.
  5. The student would not be given the opportunity to drop grades from the higher level course which under # 3 above would count toward the final average in the regular level course.

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6.57: Admission of Homeless Children (22.1-203)

(McKinney-Vento Federal Law) Reauthorization - 2001

The School Board is committed to educating homeless children and youth. Homeless children and youth shall not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. The school division will coordinate the identification and provision of services to such students with relevant local social services agencies and other agencies and programs providing services to such students and with other school divisions as may be necessary to resolve interdivisional issues.

The Smyth County School District will serve each homeless student according to the student's best interest and will:

In determining the best interest of a homeless student, the Smyth County School Board shall:


The school selected in accordance with this policy shall immediately enroll the homeless student, even if the student is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, birth records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation. The enrolling school shall immediately contact the school last attended by the student to obtain relevant academic and other records.

If the student needs to obtain immunizations, or immunization, birth or medical records, the enrolling school shall immediately refer the parent or guardian of the student to the district's homeless liaison, who shall assist in obtaining necessary immunizations, or immunization, birth, or medical records.

If the documentation regarding the comprehensive physical examination required cannot be furnished for a homeless child or youth, and the person seeking to enroll the pupil furnishes to the school division an affidavit stating that the documentation cannot be provided because of the homelessness of the child or youth and also indicating that, to the best of his or her knowledge, such pupil is in good health and free from any communicable or contagious disease, the school division shall immediately refer the student to the local school division homeless liaison who shall, as soon as practicable, assist in obtaining the necessary physical examination by the county or city health department or other clinic or physician's office and shall immediately admit the pupil to school.

The decision regarding placement shall be made regardless of whether the student lives with the homeless parents or has been temporarily placed elsewhere.

Enrollment Disputes

If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment in a school, the homeless student shall be immediately admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought and provided all services for which he or she is eligible, pending resolution of the dispute.

The parent or guardian of the student shall be provided with a written explanation of the school's decision regarding school selection or enrollment, including the rights of the parent, guardian, or student to appeal the decision. The student, parent or guardian shall be referred to the district's homeless liaison, who shall carry out the appeal process as expeditiously as possible after receiving notice of the dispute.

In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the homeless liaison shall ensure that the youth is immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of the dispute.

Appeal Process

Oral Complaint

In the event that an unaccompanied student or the parent or guardian of a student (hereinafter referred to as the Complainant) disagrees with a school's decision regarding the student's eligibility to attend the school, the Complainant shall orally present his position to the division's homeless liaison.

Written Complaint

If the disagreement is not resolved within five (5) school days, the Complainant may present a written complaint to the homeless liaison. The written complaint must include the following information:

Within five (5) school days after receiving the written complaint, the homeless liaison will reach a decision regarding the contested enrollment and shall provide a written statement of that decision, including the reasons therefore, to the Complainant. The liaison will inform the Superintendent of the formal complaint and its resolution.

Appeal to Superintendent

If the Complainant is not satisfied with the written decision of the homeless liaison, the Complainant may appeal that decision to the Superintendent by filing a written appeal. The homeless liaison shall ensure that the Superintendent receives copies of the written complaint and the response thereto. The superintendent or designee shall schedule a conference with the Complainant to discuss the complaint. Within five (5) school days of receiving the written appeal, the Superintendent, or designee, shall provide a written decision to the Complainant including a statement of the reasons therefore.

Comparable Services

Each homeless student shall be provided services comparable to services offered to other students in the school attended by the homeless student including the following;


At the request of the parent or guardian (or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison), transportation will be provided for a homeless student to and from school of origin as follows:


The term "homeless student" means an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and includes:

  1. children and youths, including unaccompanied youths who are not in the physical custody of their parents, who
    1. are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or other causes; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; or in emergency, congregate, temporary, or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
    2. have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
    3. are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  2. migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this policy because the children are living in circumstances described above.

The term "migratory child" means a child who is, or whose parent or spouse is, a migratory agricultural worker, including a migratory dairy worker, or a migratory fisher, and who, in the preceding 36 months, has moved from one school district to another in order to obtain, or accompany such parent or spouse in order to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing.

The term "school of origin" means the school that the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled.

The term "unaccompanied youth" included a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.