Credit: Credit: Albemarle County Public Schools

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Next week, more than 1,000 students will graduate from Albemarle, Monticello, Western Albemarle, and Murray high schools at graduation exercises that will begin on Tuesday, May 31, when Albemarle holds their ceremony at 7 p.m. at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena. Monticello’s graduation will be at the same time and location on the following evening, June 1. Murray students will graduate at 6 p.m. onThursday, June 2, at Burley Middle School, and Western Albemarle’s ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3, on the school’s athletic grounds.

All events will be streamed live at:

This year, more than 80 percent of all public high school graduates in the county are planning to attend college, with 61 percent opting for a four-year school and 22 percent for a two-year community college.

Also this year, a change by the Virginia Department of Education has made it possible for more ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and other students throughout the Commonwealth to earn their high school diploma. Many of these students, especially those who enter U.S. schools at the high school level, struggle with passing the state’s required Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in order to receive a diploma.

SOL tests measure, by federal accountability requirements, the progress a student makes throughout their academic career, but ESOL students often are required to pass a standardized test after only a few years in an American school division. Some SOLs, such as the eleventh-grade reading test, are based upon the acquisition of knowledge over many years. Passing the test can be difficult for students who have been in a U.S. school division for only a limited number of years.

The Code of Virginia, however, permits the state Board of Education to approve an alternative assessment if it incorporates or exceeds the SOL content for any course that requires a verified credit for graduation.

Earlier this year, the Board’s Accountability Committee held a public hearing to consider using the ACT WorkKeys Reading for Information test as an alternative to the reading SOL.

The WorkKeys test measures skills that people need to be successful in the workplace. Rather than requiring the interpretation of classical literature passages, as is typical on the reading SOL, the WorkKeys test requires the interpretation of written text in the workplace. This can include understanding and acting upon memos and emails, letters, directions, signs, notices, policies, and regulations.

Dr. Russell Carlock, the lead facilitator for International and ESOL programs in Albemarle County Public Schools, says that as many as a dozen ESOL students will benefit from the WorkKeys option this year.“Many ESOL students have to transition through multiple countries and cultures and face significant challenges in completing their education and becoming valued contributors to our community,” said Dr. Carlock. “Having options for assessing student learning, rather than a one size fits all model, is a positive step forward for all students in Virginia,” he added.