COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 8
January 24, 1997

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Superintendent's Advisory Council

 
  The Superintendent's Advisory Council meets regularly.  It
  is composed of the chairmen of the eight regional study
  groups, plus the VASS officers and executive director, the
  superintendent of the Department of Correctional Education,
  the executive director of the VSBA, and a representative of
  the Virginia Council for Private Education.  We will
  distribute the minutes of each  meeting by means of a
  Superintendent's Memorandum.

  The minutes of the meeting of January 10, 1997, are
  attached.  If you have questions regarding this information,
  please contact Ken Magill at (804) 225-2073.

  Thank you.

  RTL/jd

  Attachment:  This memo and its attachment will be sent to
               the superintendent's office
        Meeting of the State Superintendent's Advisory Council

                   Friday, January 10, 1997


  Present:     Superintendents' Group: James L. Ruffa, Dawn
               Goldstine, Jane Massey-Wilson, N. Wayne Tripp,
               Oliver A. McBride, Paul Stapleton (for James G.
               Blevins), James M. Anderson, Jr., C. P. Penn, Jr.,
               Walter McFarlane, superintendent, Department of
               Correctional Education; Kim Failon, director of
               public education and legislative services, Virginia
               Council for Private Education; Alfred R. Butler,
               executive director, and Bet Neale, legislative
               liaison, VASS.

               Department of Education: Richard T. La Pointe,
               James Williams, M. Kenneth Magill, Jo Lynne DeMary,
               Catherine Clark, Cam Harris, Kathryn Kitchen, Joe
               Aulino, James Laws, Thomas A. Elliott, and Harry L.
               Smith.

     Dr. La Pointe opened the meeting by calling attention to
  the announcement that Dr. Anderson will retire as superintendent
  of public schools in Prince Edward County for the past 25 years.
  Dr. Penn congratulated Dr. Anderson "for the tremendous job" that
  he has done in his school division.

  General Assembly Session

     The state superintendent referred to the current session
  of the Virginia General Assembly and said he believes public
  education "will do very well."  At. Dr. La Pointe's request,
  Mrs. Clark reviewed the Board of Education's positions on
  numerous bills affecting public education. 
  Dr. Penn expressed support for proposed legislation to reduce
  the compulsory school attendance age from 18 to 16.  Among
  other issues discussed was state funding for the Comprehensive
  Services Act.

  Standards of Learning Implementation

     Dr. DeMary discussed a report showing what school
  divisions have done to implement the new Standards of
  Learning.  She described the report, which has been
  distributed to superintendents, as "a tribute to
  administrators, teachers, and other personnel who have worked
  to support the standards."

  Assessment Update

     Mrs. Harris presented a brief update on progress of the
  new assessment program being developed by the Department of
  Education.  She emphasized the fact that the Department of
  Education will work with school divisions to avoid conflicts
  in scheduling tests.  She said the state assessment is "on
  schedule."


  Standards of Accreditation

     Mrs. Clark distributed a report on the status of
  revisions to the Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in
  Virginia.  She called attention to a summary of comments
  received from more than 70 superintendents who responded to a
  survey conducted by the Department of Education.  Generally,
  the report showed, most of the superintendents who responded
  support implementation of higher standards and the assessment
  of students' performance on the standards.

     She also noted that while there is some support for using
  SOL tests as barriers for students, most of the respondents
  indicated they prefer barriers at grades 5 and 8, and they
  have concerns about an eleventh grade barrier test if it is
  used alone.  Also, she said, some superintendents want the
  option to go beyond requirements for a standard high school
  diploma.

     Dr. La Pointe said the Department of Education is still
  open for suggestions from superintendents.  He expressed the
  belief that the Department can meet the timelines included in
  the report for revising the accreditation standards and the
  requirements of the Administrative Process Act.

  Teacher Scholarship Program

     Dr. Elliott distributed information about the Virginia
  Teaching Scholarship Loan Program.  One hundred $3,000
  scholarship loans will be awarded for the 1997-98 academic
  year.  Nominations for the loans will be requested in the
  spring of this year.

  Columbia Software System Discussion

     The last item on the council's agenda involved the
  Columbia Software System and the need to upgrade the software
  in accordance with the Six-Year Plan for Educational
  Technology adopted by the Department of Education.

     Mr. Aulino told the council that the two systems provided
  by the Department run on DOS-based computers.  He said that
  current trends in technology indicate that DOS will be
  obsolete in two or three years, and it is likely that 
  McGraw-Hill will end its support for this software within that 
  period of time.

     To replace the software now in use, Mr. Aulino said,
  would cost at least $4 million.  He told the council that the
  Management Information Service in the Department of Education
  will conduct a study this spring to assess the long-term
  viability of the existing software, the staffing needed to
  support the purchase of software in the future, and the most
  effective way to continue support for the existing software.

     Dr. Stapleton questioned the need for two information
  systems that are now being used, and asked if school divisions
  could make their own decisions about the use of the money for
  software.  He was told that if this was done, the cost of the
  software would be increased substantially.

     During the discussion, Dr. Anderson suggested that
  minutes be taken during regional study group meetings to be
  shared with other regional superintendents' groups in the
  state.