COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 117
August 14, 1998

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Transmitting Current Version of the Standards of Quality

 
In 1992, the Board of Education published a document entitled
Standards and Regulations for Public Schools in Virginia.  That
document included the Standards of Quality, the Regulations
Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia,
and an index of the Regulations of the Board of Education.  As you
know, the Standards of Quality represents the statutory framework
that establishes the minimal requirements for educational programs
in the Virginia public schools.  As with any other state laws, the
SOQ is subject to being amended during each legislative session. 
Consequently, the SOQ as set forth in the 1992 document is not
current.  Attached is a copy of the Standards of Quality,
22.1-253.13:1 through  22.1-253.13:8, as amended by the 1998
General Assembly.

Please note changes in the following key provisions of the SOQ.
The changes and/or additions are shown in italics as follows:

Amended 22.1-253.13:1 B

     The current educational objectives, known as the Standards of
Learning, shall not be construed to be regulations as defined in
9-6.14:4; however, the Board of Education may, from time to time,
revise these educational objectives to maintain academic rigor.

     With such funds as are made available for this purpose, the
Board shall regularly review and revise the competencies for
vocational education programs to require the full integration of
English, mathematics, science and social studies Standards of
Learning. Occupational vocational programs shall be aligned with
industry and professional standard certifications, where they
exist. 

     The Standards of Learning in all subject areas shall be
subject to regular review and revision to maintain rigor and to
reflect a balance between content knowledge and the application of
knowledge in preparation for eventual employment and lifelong
learning. 

     The Board shall seek to ensure that any revised educational
objectives are consistent with the world's highest educational
standards. These objectives shall include, but not be limited to,
basic skills of communication, computation and critical reasoning
including problem solving and decision making and the skills to
manage personal finances and to make sound financial decisions,
and the development of personal qualities such as self-esteem,
sociability, self-management, integrity, and honesty. 

     With such funds as are available for this purpose, the Board
of Education may prescribe assessment methods to determine the
level of achievement of these objectives by all students. Such
assessments shall evaluate knowledge, application of knowledge,
critical thinking, and skills related to the Standards of Learning
being assessed. The Board, with the assistance of independent
testing experts, shall conduct a regular analysis and validation
process for these assessments. 

     By July 1, 1999, the Board shall develop and approve
objectives for mathematics, at the middle and high school levels,
for personal living and finances, which shall focus on money
management skills for individuals and families. The personal
living and finances objectives shall require instruction in those
skills necessary to handle personal business and finances and
shall include, but need not be limited to, the following: opening
a bank account and how to judge the quality of a bank's services;
balancing a check book; completing a loan application; the
implications of an inheritance; the basics of personal insurance
policies; consumer rights and responsibilities; dealing with
salesmen and merchants; debt management, including retail and
credit card debt; state and federal tax computation; local tax
assessments; computation of interest rates by various mechanisms;
understanding simple contracts; and how to contest an incorrect 
bill. These personal living and finances objectives shall not be
required to be included in the Board's Standards of Learning, and
shall be developed in a manner to ensure that instruction in the
Standards of Learning shall not be de-emphasized. The Board shall
not be required to evaluate student achievement concerning such
objectives in the Standards of Learning Assessment Tests required
by 22.1-253.13:3. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:1 C

     Local school boards shall develop and implement a program of
instruction for grades K through 12 which emphasizes reading,
writing, speaking, mathematical concepts and computations,
technological proficiency, and scientific concepts and
processes....

     Local school boards shall also develop and implement programs
of prevention, intervention, or remediation for students who are
educationally at risk including, but not limited to, those whose
scores are in the bottom national quartile on Virginia State
Assessment Program Tests, who do not pass the literacy tests
prescribed by the Board of Education, or who fail to achieve a
passing score on any Standards of Learning assessment in grades
three, five, and eight. Such programs may include summer school
for all elementary and middle school grades and for all high
school academic courses, as defined by regulations promulgated by
the Board of Education, or other forms of remediation.

     Any student who does not pass the literacy tests or all
Standards of Learning assessments in grades three, five, and eight
shall be required to attend a summer school program or participate
in another form of remediation. 

     State funds shall be provided, as set forth in the
appropriation act, for the attendance in remediation programs
conducted by local school divisions for those students who do not
pass the literacy tests beginning with the 1997-1998 fiscal year
and for students who do not pass all Standards of Learning
assessments in grades three, five, and eight beginning with the
1998-99 fiscal year. 

      Such remediation programs shall include, when applicable, a
procedure for early identification of students who are at-risk of
failure of the literacy tests or the Standards of Learning
assessments in grades three, five, and eight. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:1 F

     In addition to the positions supported by basic aid and in
support of regular school year remedial programs, state funding,
pursuant to the appropriation act, shall be provided to fund
certain full-time equivalent instructional positions for each
1,000 students in grades K through 12 estimated to score in the
bottom national quartile on Virginia State Assessment Program
Tests and those who fail the literacy tests or Standards of
Learning assessments for grades three, five, and eight prescribed
by the Board. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:1 G

      School boards shall, however, annually, on or before January
1, report to the public the actual pupil/teacher ratios in
elementary school classrooms by school for the current school
year. Such actual ratios shall include only the teachers who teach
the grade and class on a full-time basis and shall exclude
resource personnel. School boards shall report pupil/teacher
ratios which include resource teachers in the same annual report.
Any classes funded through the voluntary kindergarten through
third grade at-risk student/lower ratio program shall be
identified as such classes. Any classes having waivers to exceed
the requirements of this subsection shall also be identified.
Schools shall be identified; however, the data shall be compiled
in a manner to ensure the confidentiality of all teacher and pupil
identities. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:3 B

     In establishing course and credit requirements for a high
school diploma, the Board shall provide for the selection of
integrated learning courses meeting the Standards of Learning and
approved by the Board to satisfy graduation credit requirements
which shall include Standards of Learning Testing, as necessary. 

     The Board shall include in the student outcome measures,
which are required by the Standards for Accreditation, end-of-
course or end-of-grade tests for various grade levels and classes,
as determined by the Board, in accordance with the Standards of
Learning. These Standards of Learning assessments shall include,
but need not be limited to, end-of-course or end-of-grade tests
for English, mathematics, science, and social studies.

     The requirements for a standard or advanced studies high
school diploma shall include one credit in fine, performing, or
practical arts. The requirements for a standard high school
diploma may include a concentration of courses selected from a
variety of options. Such concentration may be planned to ensure
the completion of a focused sequence of elective courses leading
to further education or preparation for employment developed by
the school division consistent with Board of Education guidelines
and as approved by the local school board. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:3 D

     The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall develop and
the Board of Education shall approve criteria for determining and
recognizing educational performance in the Commonwealth's public
school divisions and schools. Such criteria, when approved, shall
become an integral part of the accreditation process and shall
include student outcome measurements. One year following the
approval by the Board of such criteria, the Superintendent of
Public Instruction shall annually identify to the Board those
school divisions and schools that exceed or do not meet the
approved criteria. Such identification shall include an analysis
of the strengths and weaknesses of public education programs in
the various school divisions in Virginia and recommendations to
the General Assembly for further enhancing student learning
uniformly across the Commonwealth. 

     The Department of Education shall conduct technical
assistance visits for local school divisions. Schools accredited
with a warning shall be given priority for such assistance, which
shall include an analysis of relevant school data and the
development and implementation of improvement plans to assist such
schools in improving their accreditation status. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:3 H

     In order to assess the educational progress of students as
individuals and as groups, each local school board shall require
the administration of appropriate assessments, which may include
criterion-referenced tests, teacher-made tests and alternative
assessment instruments and shall include the Virginia State
Assessment Program, the Virginia State Literacy Testing Program,
the Standards of Learning Assessments, and the National Assessment
of Educational Progress state-by-state assessment. Each school
board shall analyze and report annually, in compliance with any
criteria which may be established by the Board of Education, the
results from the Virginia State Assessment Program, the Standards
of Learning Assessments, and the Virginia State Literacy Testing
Program to the public. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:3 I

     To assist school divisions in implementing those programs and
practices that will enhance pupil academic performance and improve
family and community involvement in the public schools, and from
such funds as may be appropriated for such purpose, there shall be
established within the Department of Education a unit to conduct
evaluative studies and to provide the resources and technical
assistance to increase the capacity of school divisions to deliver
quality instruction. Such unit shall identify and analyze
effective instructional programs and practices and professional
development initiatives; evaluate the success of programs
encouraging parental and family involvement; assess changes in
student outcomes prompted by family involvement; and collect and
disseminate among school divisions information regarding effective
instructional programs and practices, initiatives promoting family
and community involvement, and potential funding and support
sources. Such unit may also provide resources supporting
professional development for administrators and teachers. In
providing such information, resources, and other services to school
divisions, the unit shall give priority to those divisions
demonstrating a less than seventy percent passing rate on (i)
all three Literacy Passport tests by students taking these tests
for the first time or (ii) the Standards of Learning assessment tests.

Amended 22.1-253.13:4 C

      Each local school board shall award diplomas to all
secondary school students, including students who transfer from
nonpublic schools or from home instruction, who earn the units of
credit prescribed by the Board of Education, pass the prescribed
literacy tests, and meet such other requirements as may be
prescribed by the local school board and approved by the Board of
Education. Provisions shall be made for students who transfer
between secondary schools and from nonpublic schools or from home
instruction as outlined in the standards for accreditation. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:4 F

     The Board of Education shall develop criteria for recognizing
exemplary performance in vocational studies by students who have
completed the requirements for a standard or advanced studies
diploma and shall award seals on the diplomas of students meeting
such criteria. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:5 C

      Consistent with the finding that leadership is essential for
the advancement of public education in the Commonwealth, the Board
of Education shall develop leadership standards for
superintendents and principals. 

Amended 22.1-253.13:5 D

     The Board of Education shall sponsor, conduct or provide
advice on (i) training and professional development of teachers,
principals, supervisors, division superintendents and other school
staff and; (ii) in-service programs for school board members on
personnel, curriculum and current issues in education; and (iii)
in cooperation with the Virginia Department for the Visually
Handicapped, in-service programs in Braille for teachers of the
blind and visually impaired. The Board shall provide technical
assistance on professional development to local school boards
designed to seek to ensure that all instructional personnel are
proficient in the use of educational technology consistent with
its Six-Year Educational Technology Plan for Virginia. 

     If you should have any questions regarding this memo or the
changes to the SOQ, please do not hesitate to contact me or Diane
Atkinson, Assistant Superintendent for Policy and Public Affairs
at (804) 225-2403.  


PDS/cci

Attachment:    A hard copy of this memo and its attachments
               will be sent to the superintendent's office.