SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 159
October 30, 1998
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Virginia Standards of Learning Assessments Passing Scores Established by the Board of Education|
Attached is a table listing the decisions of the Virginia Board of Education regarding the passing scores for the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. This is a critical list of decisions in that it sets the standards for passing each of the tests as well as the point at which students attain "advanced" status on the test. The first inclination of us all is to immediately apply these "cut scores" to the spring 1998 raw score information. It would be imprudent to do this at this point in a global manner. Please remember that there were two forms of each SOL test administered in the Spring of 1998. The Board of Education established the passing scores on the predominant form (standard setting form). The Department of Education will now engage in equating the second form to the Board's established passing standard. Since different test forms may be slightly easier or slightly harder than the standard setting form it is possible that the passing score on the second form of the test will vary slightly from that of the standard setting form. The objective in equating test forms is to ensure that despite differences that may emerge in test difficulty, the student is not penalized in some way-the passing bar will always be the same no matter which form of the test the student takes. For example, suppose the Board decided that, on the standard setting test form, a student must get 6 out of 10 items correct to pass and 8 out of 10 to be advanced. If the second test form is slightly harder than the standard setting form, students might only need to get 5 items correct to pass and 7 items correct to be advanced. Since not all students in a school division may have taken the same form of the test, applying the initial set of passing scores to all students' results would yield inaccurate results. The Department is at this moment equating and scaling the tests from the spring of 1998. The raw scores from both forms of the tests will be converted to scale scores. The scale score necessary to pass each test will be the same across tests and from form to form. This is exactly the same procedure that is used in the Literacy Passport Test. A student needs, on the LPT, a scale score of 250 to pass the test. In the same manner, the SOL tests will have scale scores with fixed points for passing and advanced designations. The Department will be sending to school divisions information regarding the scales shortly. However, we wanted to caution you in the first days after the setting of passing scores by the Board, that while the desire will be to automatically apply these raw score cuts to your current data, it will yield spurious information. It is important at this time to not declare a student to have passed, or failed, until you have the second set of reports from the Department. We anticipate you will receive the second set of reports in the first half of December. Every effort will be made to accelerate this timeline but there just is a lot of processing which must occur to complete the second phase of reporting. Should you have questions or need additional information, please call the Division of Assessment and Reporting at (804) 225-2102. PDS/CMH/jc Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attachment will be sent to the superintendent's office.