Smyth County Schools Program of Studies

Table of Contents

February 2017

General Information

Background

The program of studies outlines established standards for Smyth County's comprehensive high schools in these areas:

The program of studies identifies academic and elective courses to ensure that all Smyth County students have access to comparable courses sufficient to meet the graduation requirements as set forth by the Smyth County School Board. Each high school offers elective courses based on student interest or need in addition to core courses and electives mandated by the Virginia Board of Education. Differences in the supplemental electives do not constitute grounds for waiver of the school division's attendance zones.

Contents

The program of studies contains general information and brief course descriptions for subjects offered in Smyth County high schools grades 9 through 12. This program of studies is designed for use by those who need information concerning courses, graduation requirements, and other general information concerning secondary offerings.

Guidance counselors are always available to help students plan their courses of studies at the secondary level. Students who have questions or need help in developing their individual programs should contact the guidance department at their home school.

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Virginia Standards of Accreditation

The Virginia Board of Education has adopted Standards of Accreditation (SOA) for schools in the state. The Standards of Accreditation have changed the way schools are accredited. Under these standards, schools are accredited based on the performance of the school's students on the Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests in mathematics, science, English, and history/social science. In addition, high school accreditation is based on their graduation and completion index score.

The requirements for a student to earn a diploma are those in effect when the student enters ninth grade for the first time. The web link provided will take you to Virginia's Standards of Accreditation http://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/Accountability/soa.html. The Standards of Accreditation also require that students take end-of-course or approved substitute course tests in specified courses in English, mathematics, science, and history/social sciences. The end-of-course tests are known as the Standard of Learning (SOL) Tests and are administered in the core areas of the curriculum. When a student passes the classes and the corresponding SOL test, the student earns a verified credit.

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Types of Diplomas (Students Who Entered Ninth Grade in the Fall of 2011 or 2012)

Advanced Studies Diploma

Students must earn 27 standard units of credit and nine (9) verified credits.

Discipline AreaStandard Units of CreditVerified Credits Required
English42
Composition1 
Mathematics42
Laboratory Science42
History & Social Science42
Foreign Language3 
Health & Physical Education2 
Fine Arts or CTE1 
Electives3 
Economics and Personal Finance1 
Student Selected Test 1
Total279

Standard Diploma

Students must earn 22 standard units of credit and six (6) verified credits.

Discipline AreaStandard Units of CreditVerified Credits Required
English42
Mathematics31
Laboratory Science31
History & Social Science31
Health & Physical Education2 
Foreign Language, Fine Arts or CTE2 
Electives4 
Economics and Personal Finance1 
Student Selected Test 1
Total226

Modified Standard Diploma

This diploma is intended for certain students at the secondary level who have a disability and are unlikely to meet the credit requirements for a Standard Diploma. The student's Individual Education Program (IEP) team and the student's parents determine eligibility and participation at any point after the student's 8th grade year.

Students must earn 20 units of credit and pass literacy and numeracy competency assessments. Students entering the 9th grade must pass the 8th grade English (Reading, Literature, and Research) and mathematics Standards of Learning tests to meet the literacy and numeracy requirements. Students may substitute a higher level Standard's of Learning test (i.e., end of course English Reading, Algebra I, Algebra II, or Geometry) for the 8th grade SOL tests in English (Reading, Literature, and Research) and mathematics or other substitute test approved by the Virginia Board of Education.

Discipline AreaStandard Units of Credit Required
English4
Mathematics3
Science 2
History and Social Science2
Health and Physical Education2
Foreign Language, Fine Arts or CTE1
Electives6
Total20

Special Diploma

This diploma is intended for certain students at the secondary level who have a disability and do not meet the requirements for other diplomas. The student's Individual Education Program (IEP) team and the student's parents determine eligibility and participation in this diploma program. For a student to earn a Special Diploma, he/she must complete the requirements of the Individual Educational Program.

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Types of Diplomas (Students Who Entered Ninth Grade Fall 2013 and After)

Advanced Studies Diploma

Students must earn 27 standard units of credit and nine (9) verified credits. A student must successfully complete one virtual course, which may be noncredit-bearing, to graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma

Discipline AreaStandard Units of CreditVerified Credits Required
English42
Composition1 
Mathematics42
Laboratory Science42
History & Social Science42
Foreign Language3 
Health & Physical Education2 
Fine Arts or CTE1 
Electives3 
Economics and Personal Finance1 
Student Selected Test 1
Total279

Standard Diploma

Students must earn 22 standard units of credit and six (6) verified credits. A student must earn a career and technical education credential that has been approved by the Board of Education to graduate with a Standard Diploma. The credential could include, but not be limited to, the successful completion of an industry certification, a state licensure examination, a national occupational competency assessment, or the Virginia workplace readiness skills assessment. A student must also successfully complete one virtual course, which may be noncredit-bearing, to graduate with a Standard Diploma.

Discipline AreaStandard Units of CreditVerified Credits Required
English42
Mathematics31
Laboratory Science31
History & Social Science31
Health & Physical Education2 
Foreign Language, Fine Arts or CTE2 
Electives4 
Economics and Personal Finance1 
Student Selected Test 1
Total226

Credit accommodations for the Standard Diploma for students with disabilities have been established by the Virginia Department of Education. "Credit accommodations" means adjustments to meet the standard and verified credit requirements for earning a Standard Diploma for students with disabilities. A student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan will specify any applicable credit accommodations.

Special Diploma

This diploma is intended for certain students at the secondary level who have a disability and do not meet the requirements for other diplomas. The student's Individual Education Program (IEP) team and the student's parents determine eligibility and participation in this diploma program. For a student to earn a Special Diploma, he/she must complete the requirements of the Individual Educational Program.

Alternative Programs

The alternative programs for Smyth County Schools necessitate students to meet Virginia graduation requirements for a standard diploma.

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Local Option for Verified Credit

Smyth County Schools will award locally verified credits in science and history/social sciences as stated in Policy IKFA of the Smyth County Schools Policy Manual. In addition to verified credits in science and history/social sciences, the School Board may also award verified credits toward a standard diploma in reading, writing and mathematics to students with disabilities as credit accommodations for the standard diploma. To be eligible for such credit accommodations, students with disabilities must meet all criteria established by Virginia law or regulation. Please contact your guidance counselor for more information about this option.

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Governor's/Board of Education Seals

Governor's Seal
Awarded to students who complete the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of "B" or better, and successfully complete college-level coursework that will earn the student at least nine transferable college credits in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge, or dual enrollment courses.
Board of Education Seal
Awarded to students who complete the requirements for a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma with an average grade of "A" beginning with the ninth-grade class of 2006-2007 and beyond.
Board of Education's Career and Technical Seal
Awarded to students who:
  • earn a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and complete a prescribed sequence of courses in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that they choose and maintain a "B" or better average in those courses; or
  • pass an examination or occupational competency assessment in a career and technical education concentration or specialization that confers certification or occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade or professional association; or
  • acquire a professional license in that career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Board of Education shall approve all professional licenses and examinations used to satisfy these requirements.

Board of Education's Advanced Mathematics and Technology Seal
Awarded to students who earn either a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and satisfy all of the mathematics requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma (four units of credit including Algebra II; two verified units of credit) with a "B" average or better; and either
  • pass an examination in a career and technical education field that confers certification from a recognized industry, or trade or professional association; or
  • acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth of Virginia; or
  • pass an examination approved by the Board of Education that confers college-level credit in a technology or computer science area.
Board of Education Excellence in Civics Education Seal
Awarded to students who meet each of the following four criteria:
  • Satisfy the requirement to earn a Standard Diploma or an Advanced Studies Diploma
  • Complete Virginia and United States History and Virginia and United States Government courses with a grade of "B" or higher
  • Complete 50 hours of voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities, such as volunteering for a charitable or religious organization that provides services to the poor, sick, or less fortunate; participating in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or similar youth organizations; participating in JROTC; participating in political campaigns or government internships, or Boys State, Girls State, or Model General Assembly; participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities that have a civics focus. Any student who enlists in the United States military prior to graduation will be deemed to have met this community service requirement.
  • Have good attendance and no disciplinary infractions as determined by local school board policies.

Students may receive other seals or awards for exceptional academic, career and technical, citizenship, or other exemplary performance in accordance with criteria defined by the local school board.

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Grade Scale/Weighted Grade Scale

Grade Scale

Letter GradeNumeric Range
A93–100
B85–92
C77–84
D76–70
F69 and below

Grade Scale Policy From Out-of-County Institutions

If an institution which includes but is not limited to Linwood Holton Governor's School, Southwest Virginia Governor's School, Virginia Highlands Community College, Wytheville Community College, and virtual providers are using a grade scale which is not congruent with the ones approved by the Smyth County School Board, Smyth County Schools will recognize the grade as provided by the sending institution. If an instructor is teaching a course for another institution for Smyth County Public Schools (ex. Dual enrollment) and that institution or instructional department does not have a defined grade scale, then the Smyth County grade scale will be in effect.

Weighted Grade Scale

The numerical and letter grades for each course shall be correlated with the following grade points:

Numerical RangeLetter GradeGrade Point for Regular ClassesGrade Point for Weighted Classes
93–100A4.05.0
85–92B3.04.0
77–84C2.03.0
70–76D1.02.0
69 & BelowF0.00.0

High level, advanced courses shall be granted weighted status according to the following criteria:

Class ranking and honor graduates, including valedictorian and salutatorian, shall be determined by the grade point average for all credits taken in grades 9 through 12. High school classes taken at the eighth grade level shall not be included in the determination of high school grade point averages.

Class rank for students transferring from schools outside of Smyth County shall be based on the quality points system identified in county policy. Weighted grades for these transferring students shall be given only for weighted courses offered in Smyth County Schools. A student transferring from outside Smyth County Public Schools may not accumulate more weighted credits than are available to students in Smyth County.

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Honor Roll

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

The honor roll 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 grade below a C.

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Class Rank and Honors Graduates

The honor graduates themselves will select from their ranks the student speakers for the graduation ceremony.

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 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.

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Secondary Promotion Policy

Upon completion of the eighth grade, a student is promoted to the ninth grade. The student must earn six units of credit before being promoted to the tenth grade, twelve units before being promoted to the eleventh grade, and eighteen units before being promoted to the twelfth grade.

Student grade classification will be determined prior to the beginning of each school year. Grade classification shall not change during the school year.

Students shall not be permitted to enroll in English 9 and English 10, in English 10 and English 11, in English 11 and English 12, or in U. S. History and U. S. Government during the same school year unless an English course or the U. S. History course are repeat subjects or unusual scheduling problems arise.

If a parental request is received for a student to be promoted for more than one grade or to graduate early, the following steps must be completed:

The staff responsible for the assessment will make the final report to the superintendent with recommendations.

The superintendent will then notify the school principal of his decision and the school principal will arrange for a conference with the parents to review the information and the decision.

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Dual Credit Enrollment

Dual credit enrollment courses are college level courses that are offered to high school students as a part of their high school curriculum. Dual enrollment courses allow high school students to meet the requirements for high school graduation at the same time that they are earning college credit. Dual enrollment courses are offered to Smyth County students and are transferable to four year institutions as well as local community colleges such as Wytheville Community College (WCC) and Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC).

Any high school junior or senior is eligible to participate in the dual enrollment program. There may be restrictions such as the need to meet all course prerequisites and placement requirements, so the student should check with the guidance counselor to determine enrollment procedures. Sophomores may participate with the principal's recommendation.

Please note that some dual credit classes will only articulate or transfer to identified programs uniquely offered by WCC and VHCC.

There are advantages in taking dual credit class offerings. They include:

Students who wish to take college courses simultaneously for high school graduation and college degree credit must submit to the following conditions:

Tuition

Students will be responsible for a tuition charge at the rate of $4.00 per credit hour for all dual enrollment courses.

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Advanced Placement Classes and Special Programs

Students enrolled in Smyth County Schools have the opportunity to participate in dual enrollment, advanced placement classes, and Academic Year Governor's School Programs. Students and their parents are notified in writing as student schedules are developed each spring of the availability and the qualifications for enrolling in such classes and programs, and the availability of financial assistance to lower income and needy students to take the Advanced Placement examinations.

Sophomore Participation in Governor's School Programs

Upon recommendation of the principal, students who have earned the grade classification of sophomore may request to participate in courses offered through a governor's school program. The request must be approved by the superintendent or his designee and permission must be granted by the director of the governor's school before the student is considered for admission to the academic programs provided by that institution.

The student must have participated in an accelerated curriculum and completed all prerequisite class work in the academic areas prior to the application process and have completed the minimum of math analysis as a prerequisite for the higher math's that are required for successful experience at the governor's school.

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Early College Scholars

The Early College Scholars programs allows eligible high school students to earn at least 15 hours of transferable college credits while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. The result is a more productive senior year and a substantial reduction in college tuition for families.

To qualify for the Early College Scholars program, a student must:

The Early College Scholars program is supported by the Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School and the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative. The VVAP school provides statewide access to college level courses while the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative defines the subjects high school students can complete and receive college degree credit from participating public and private colleges and universities.

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Remediation/Intervention

Students in all grade levels who have not been successful on one or more of the core Standards of Learning tests are offered remediation courses and/or tutorial programs in preparation for standardized tests. Each school identifies those students who are at risk and designs a program to meet the needs of the individual students in relation to passing the core subject SOL tests.

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Path to Industry Certification

To encourage more students to work toward a selected industry credential or state license while pursuing a high school diploma, the Path to Industry Certification: High School Industry Credentialing program was developed. Students who earn a credential by passing a certification or licensure examination may earn up to two student-selected verified credits to meet graduation requirements. In addition to providing the opportunity to earn student-selected verified credits, this initiative provides the following benefits:

Virginia Board of Education-Approved Exams & Assessments

The Virginia Board of Education periodically reviews and approves industry, professional or trade association certification examinations and occupational competency assessments that will meet the student-selected verified credit requirements as well as to earn the board's Career and Technical Education seal and Advanced Mathematics and Technology seal. For additional information contact your guidance counselor or go to the Virginia Department of Education's website.

Academic & Career Plan

The Virginia Board of Education included in its 2009 revisions to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia, (8 VAC-20-131-5 et seq) provisions for each middle and high school student to have a personal learning plan that aligns academic and career goals with the student's course of study.

Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, all schools will begin development of a personal Academic and Career Plan for each seventh-grade student with completion by the fall of the student's eighth-grade year. Students who transfer from a school other than a Virginia public school into the eighth-grade will have the Plan developed as soon as practicable following enrollment. Beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year, students who transfer into a Virginia public school after their eighth-grade year will have an Academic and Career Plan developed upon enrollment. The components of the Plan will include, but not be limited to, the student's program of study for high school graduation and a postsecondary career pathway based on the student's academic and career interests. The Academic and Career Plan shall be developed in accordance with guidelines established by the Virginia Board of Education and signed by the student, student's parent or guardian, and school official(s) designated by the principal. The Plan shall be included in the student's record and shall be reviewed and updated, if necessary, before the student enters the ninth and eleventh grades. The school shall have met its obligation for parental involvement if it makes a good faith effort to notify the parent or guardian of the responsibility for the development and approval of the Plan.

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Special Education

The goal of special education in Smyth County Schools is to insure that every child is given the opportunity to learn to the maximum extent of his/her ability as provided through a person's statutory right to a free and appropriate public education. Smyth County Schools provide services for identified handicapped children through many service delivery models designed to provide services from the least restrictive environment to the most restrictive environment from full self-contained placement, to resource placement, to regular class placement with itinerant teacher services. The service delivery model is determined by the severity of the handicap and the student's ability to function with his/her handicap in the regular program. The models include:

Self-Contained Service Delivery Model
This service model is the most restrictive program and is designed to serve students who are severely handicapped.
Resource/Collaborative Model
This service delivery model serves children who are educable mentally handicapped, emotionally disturbed, learning disabled, or have other disabilities that are appropriately taught in the regular classroom with collaborative teaching and/or direct services during resource time.
Itinerant Service Delivery Model
This model is designed for those handicapping conditions such as speech, vision, hearing, or orthopedic impairment.

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Summer Regional Governor's School

Virginia Highlands Community College and Wytheville Community College provide opportunities for gifted students who are upcoming sophomores, juniors, and seniors to participate in a summer program which offers challenging courses in a variety of subjects. These programs provide opportunities in the arts, sciences, mathematics, and humanities. The Virginia Department of Education approves each Summer Regional Governor's School. These classes are held on the respective college campuses and allow students to return to their homes at the end of each day's activities. Transportation to and from the students area is provided by the county to each college campus.

Gifted students may apply for the regional summer school by contacting their high school guidance counselors. Students should inquire as to the courses taught, the days the classes are in session, the times of each class, and extra curricular actives provided such as field trips and other off campus activities, if applicable. Programs and activities will vary according to the participating site, and classes may change from year to year in response to annual local evaluations and changing concerns of our region. Student evaluations of each class are collected at the end of each course taught, and feedback is analyzed to determine the extent of success for each class taught. This information is shared with the host college, the local school system, and the Virginia Department of Education.

These programs are offered at no expense to the students who wish to participate. Smyth County Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Education pay all costs incurred in providing these extended learning opportunities to our students.

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Summer School

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 schools 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 unless school board actions indicate otherwise. This program is contingent upon available funding and students are charged a $100 registration fee.

The summer school policy is as follows:

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 summer school sessions.

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Tests and Examinations

Standardized Testing

The standardized testing prescribed by the Virginia Department of Education shall be administered in accordance with state regulations. Standardized tests should be used to measure achievement and potential for learning. The results of standardized tests will be used by the school for evaluation and improvement of the instructional program.

Secondary Testing

In grades nine through twelve, cumulative examinations may be administered in all courses. Examinations shall not exceed two hours in length and shall carry a grade value of twenty-five percent of the semester grade.

Examination Exemption

Students attending classes on a block schedule in grades 9-12 will be exempt from, and will not be required to be in attendance for a review in preparation of the final exam providing they have a final average of "B" or better and have missed no more than five (5) class periods during the term of the class. Students attending classes that meet daily for the entire school year can be exempted from final examinations if they meet the same grade requirements as above and miss no more than nine (9) days in that class.

Students in grades 9-12 will also be exempt from taking the final examination in a class if they have a passing grade, meet the attendance requirements, and pass the Virginia Standards of Learning test for that class. Averages and attendance will be figured on the last teaching day. No exceptions will be granted to the attendance stipulations above.

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Homework Policy

Homework is an important and integral part of the total educational process. It shall be a purposeful and meaningful extension of the regular classroom work. Homework serves as a tool in training students to accept responsibility, budget their time, and develop good work habits.

Homework shall be planned and assigned in such a manner that it:

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Make Up Work

Students are encouraged to make-up all class work missed due to being absent from class. Upon returning to class after an absence, students shall be responsible for completing work they have missed. Teachers will be responsible for assigning the make-up work and determining when the work shall be completed. Students who believe additional time is needed must make arrangements with their individual teacher(s) and/or principal. At no time is a student to miss additional class time to make-up missed work.

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Excused and Unexcused Absences

Excused Absences

Time lost from class for any reason represents a significant loss of educational opportunity for all students. The primary objective of Smyth County Schools Attendance Guidelines is to establish minimum attendance requirements to ensure the academic success of every student and adhere to the Code of Virginia.

Excused absences include:

*Five parent notes or phone calls on a block schedule or ten on a year long schedule indicating that the child was sick, had a medical or court appointment, or death in the family are accepted.

Documentation for all absences must be provided to the school within one week of the absence.

After five notes or phone calls from a parent on block schedule or ten on a year long schedule, proper documentation must be provided. An example of proper documentation is a written excuse from a doctor's office, clerk of the court's office, or dentist office.

School administration may excuse absences if there are any extenuating circumstances that warrant such action and the student is considered in good standing with the school academically and has not been absent an excessive number of days. School administration may also excuse absences for family trips for a total of up to five school days during the school year as long as the student is in good standing with the school and has not been absent from school an excessive number of days. Prior approval from the principal is required for a requested family trip to be an excused absence.

Unexcused Absences

An absence is considered unexcused when it is avoidable and unnecessary, or if unsatisfactory documentation concerning the absences has been submitted to the school. If a student is suspended, the absences are unexcused.

Unexcused absences include:

*Any absence after five parent notes or phone calls on the block schedule or ten on a year long schedule without documentation from a medical provider, clerk of the court's office, or death in the family.

Should a student accumulate five unexcused absences, the principal or his designee will meet with the student and contact the parent or guardian reminding each of the importance of good attendance.

If the student continues to be absent, the sixth unexcused absence from school will lead the principal to schedule a meeting with the student to develop a written plan to resolve the student's non-attendance and actions to be taken. Parents are required to cooperate and should a parent fail to attend this meeting or be uncooperative, the principal will refer the case to the Attendance Officer.

After seven unexcused absences, the case will be transferred to the Attendance Officer. The parent/guardian and the student will be required to meet with the Smyth County Interdisciplinary Team for recommendations to avoid future absences and court involvement. Failure to meet with this team will result in the matter being referred to the district court services unit for court intervention. The Interdisciplinary Team is a requirement under the Code of Virginia and is made up of members from the community agencies that work with youth.

When a high school student has been absent from school for a total of five days unexcused on the block schedule or ten unexcused days on the year long schedule, including suspensions, the student will take a one point deduction per class period for every additional absence that is unexcused. Students are encouraged to make up the time lost per class in an effort to earn back points. Make-up sessions must be arranged with an administrator prior to the make-up sessions. The make-up session will be the length of time missed during the absence per class period.

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Excessive Tardiness/Early Dismissals

Students are expected to arrive at school and attend all classes on time everyday. Students should remain in school everyday for the entire academic school day. After ten (10) unexcused tardies to school and/or early dismissals, the principal or his designee will meet with the student and send a letter to parents concerning the importance of being at school on time and staying at school for the entire day. When the student has fifteen unexcused tardies to school and/or early dismissals, the principal or his designee will either schedule a meeting with the parents and student or will refer the matter to the attendance officer. A referral may be made to other community agencies such as the Department of Social Services for intervention.

Students are expected to attend all assigned classes every day. A parent, teacher, or staff member's approved request will be necessary for class absences.

Once a student arrives on school property, he or she may not leave without administrative permission prior to the end of the regularly scheduled school day. Students will be permitted to leave school prior to dismissal for legitimate illness, emergencies, participation in approved extracurricular activities, or at specific written direction of the parent or guardian. The principal or his designee must approve all early dismissals.

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Athletic Eligibility

To be eligible for participation on athletic teams in Smyth County, the Virginia High School League requires the following:

Where the situation warrants, 8th grade students shall be eligible to participate on a JV squad. At no time may a 9th or 10th grade student be cut to make room for an 8th grade student. This applies to all sports that have a JV program except for football. This policy will be considered for special cases only. It is not to be considered as the norm. Any such move must be approved by the superintendent or superintendent's designee.

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