Qualified homeschooled students have legal access to the General Educational Development (GED) high-school equivalency test. Through the work of Home Educators Association of Virginia and Home School Legal Defense, home instructed students age 16 or older may pursue this diploma option. Virginia Code § 22.1-254.2 describes eligibility for the GED and includes the following references to home instructed students:
§ 22.1-254.2. Testing for general educational development; eligibility; guidelines.
A. The Board of Education shall establish a program of testing for general educational development (GED) through which persons may earn a high school equivalency certificate or a diploma as provided in subsection F of § 22.1-253.13:4. The following persons may participate in the testing program:
1. Persons who are at least 18 years of age and not enrolled in public school or not otherwise meeting the school attendance requirements set forth in § 22.1-254;
2. Persons 16 years of age or older who have been instructed by their parents in their home pursuant to § 22.1-254.1 AND who have completed such home school instruction;
3. Persons who have been excused from school attendance* pursuant to subsections B and C of § 22.1-254;
Updated GED Requirements
The Virginia Department of Education issued Superintendent’s Memo #68, March 23, 2007. According to Memo #68, all previous superintendents’ memoranda addressing the GED should be disregarded.
Superintendent’s Memo #68 gives the following summary of rules for underage eligibility (students between 16 and 18 years of age) including home instructed students:
1) Homeschooled Students
Applicants under eighteen years of age, but at least sixteen years of age, must provide the GED examiner with documentation signed by the superintendent/designee certifying that the applicant has completed a home instruction program.
2) Students Released from Compulsory Attendance*
Applicants under eighteen years of age, but at least sixteen years of age, must provide the GED examiner with documentation signed by the division superintendent/designee certifying that the applicant has been released from compulsory attendance by the local school board.
Emancipated and adjudicated minors are subject to the compulsory attendance law, unless released by the local school board.
*Homeschoolers described as “released or excused from compulsory attendance” are religiously exempt students. Parents must provide documentation from the superintendent or his designee certifying the student is no longer under compulsory attendance according to the local school board.
The GED includes five tests that measure the skills considered to be the outcomes of a high school education. The tests focus on skills and concepts and the general abilities to analyze, evaluate, and draw conclusions rather than focus on specific facts.
Subject areas include:
Test 1: Language Arts – Writing
Test 2: Language Arts – Reading
Test 3: Science
Test 4: Social Studies
Test 5: Mathematics
Individuals may take the full battery of tests up to three times during a calendar year to qualify for a General Educational Development Certificate. Test scores may be combined in accordance with GED Testing Service policy.
GED Test Preparation
For information on what you should do to prepare for the GED Test and preparation programs in your area, call 877-37MYGED or 877-376-9433. Visit Virginia’s Race to the GED to find information about classes in your area, discover how to study by television or computer, take a practice test, or register for the test.
Testing applicants are not required to be Virginia residents. However, they must provide documentation of their current residence, whether in Virginia or another state.
An individual must make application prior to testing and provide a photograph ID at registration and at the time of testing. More information about GED testing can be found at Regulations Governing General Educational Development Certificates.
You may direct questions to Debbie Bergtholdt, GED state administrator, Office of Adult Education and Literacy at Debbie.Bergtholdt@doe.virginia.gov, or 804-371-2333.