[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on April 6th of this year, was our #9 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues tomorrow with #8, so be sure to check back!]

Virginia high school is going to look different for the freshmen who enroll in 2018. Even the idea of high school will be different, according to architects of a plan that the State Board of Education will flesh out over the next two years.

The four-year quest for class credits, verified by standardized tests, which students and parents now know, will morph into a pair of two-year sections with multiple paths to graduation.

Many core classes will be taught in those first two years. Then students will have a choice: A path to a four-year college degree, preparations for a two-year community college degree or the chance to leave high school with a certification that says they’re ready to go to work in one of several industries, with the options based partly on what local businesses say they need from the workforce.

Internships and apprenticeships will be worth credit toward high school graduation. The push to emphasize job skills in high school, already well underway on the Peninsula and around the state, will accelerate.

“This is a game changer,” said state Sen. John Miller, who carried legislation this session laying out the basics of what he called a “very substantial redesign.”

“When you and I went to high school … seat time was a big deal,” said Miller, D-Newport News. “And that is going to be gone. And in its place we’re now going to have the flexibility to award credits to students who get internships or apprenticeships or go and earn industry certifications.”

The state board has to finalize dozens of details, and the legislation that laid this path out requires two public hearings in each of eight regions around the state between now and December 2017, when final regulations should be ready. They go into effect starting with the 2018 school year, but only for freshmen.

(Next page: Room to learn through failure and experience)

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