Eighth-graders won't have to worry about taking a Standards of Learning test in world history, but they aren't getting off scot-free; Prince William County wants to offer a replacement.

County school administrators are asking to implement two semester exams in the eighth-grade world history class, which covers world events up to the year 1000.

Semester exams are unusual at the middle school level. Staff members say the tests would help "maintain academic rigor" as well as help address a statewide weakness in social studies, as shown by SOL scores.

Seventy percent of a school's students must pass most the SOL tests by 2006 or the school risks losing accreditation. The tests are given in grades 3, 5 and 8 and in high school.

The school system also wants to reconfigure how the courses count for credit, to ensure that students take more social studies courses.

Currently, students need three credits in social studies to earn a high school diploma. The eighth-grade world history class now counts for one credit. Some students were choosing not to take any other history or government courses until they reached their junior year, when they are required to take Virginia and U.S. history courses.

Administrators want to strip the credit from the eighth-grade course. Thus, students would have to take a social studies course in grades 9 or 10 to graduate.

The School Board will make the final decision on changing the social studies exam program at its Wednesday meeting.