COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 172
October 11, 1996

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Board of Education Action on Statewide Assessment Program

 
  The attached news release announces the action taken by the
  Board of Education at its meeting on October 10, 1996,
  concerning the statewide testing program.  Please note that
  the details of the testing program will be released by the
  board once the contract is signed following the notification
  period required by the state procurement law.
  
  Questions related to the attached release should be directed
  to Margaret Roberts at (804) 225-2403.
  
  
  RTL:mnr
  
  Attachment (1)
  
  cc:     Local testing coordinators
  
                        RELEASE TO ALL MEDIA
               VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
                                
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             CONTACT: Margaret Roberts
  October 11, 1996                  Telephone: 804/ 225-2403
  
  
    BOARD OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR TESTING PROGRAM
                               
  RICHMOND--   At its meeting on October 10, 1996, the
  Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously to name
  Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement as the contractor for
  the Standards of Learning part of the board's new testing
  program.  The board also voted to name Harcourt Brace
  Educational Measurement as the contractor for the norm-referenced 
  part of the new testing program.
  
     The first part of the statewide program calls for a
  test specifically designed to measure student achievement on
  the state's Standards of Learning, the new academic
  standards in place in classrooms across the state for the
  first time this school year.   Receiving national acclaim
  for rigor and clarity, the new standards spell out academic
  expectations for students in kindergarten through grade 12
  in the four core subjects: mathematics, science, English,
  and history.   The new test will be administered to students
  in grades three, five, eight, and 11.   The contractor will
  field test the new Standards of Learning assessments in the
  spring of 1997, with no student scores reported. The first
  assessment of student performance on the Standards of
  Learning will be in the spring of 1998, with  the scores
  reported to the public as soon as they become available.  
  
     The second part of the statewide program will consist
  of a norm-referenced achievement test that will provide
  comparison information on how well Virginia's students are
  doing when measured against their peers across the nation. 
  This part of the testing program will be administered
  statewide in grades three, five, eight, and 11.  The board
  stated that the nationally standardized test will be
  administered in the spring of 1997, and the scores will be
  reported to the public as soon thereafter as they become
  available.
  
     Board of Education president, Ms. Michelle Easton
  (Reston), commented on the board's action: "I am pleased
  that the Board of Education is continuing its recent
  progress in setting rigorous academic standards for
  Virginia's public schools.  This step today is very
  important if schools and students are to be accountable for
  teaching and learning the new academic standards.  This
  testing program will give school administrators, citizens,
  and parents very important information on the educational
  progress of their students and their schools."
  
     Dr. Richard T. La Pointe, Superintendent of Public
  Instruction, added, "The action of the board reaffirms that
  high academic standards and accountability are key goals for
  improving our public schools.  These tests will provide
  parents with an objective appraisal of their children's
  achievement.  At the same time, the tests will provide
  teachers and school officials with valuable information
  about the success of their teaching practices, instructional
  methods, and local curriculum." 
  
     The details of the testing program will be released by
  the Board of Education once the contract is signed following
  the notification period required by the state procurement
  law.  
                              ####