SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 8
January 24, 1997
|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.