SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 10
January 22, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Superintendent's Study Group|
The Superintendent's Study Group meets regularly. It is composed of the chairmen of the eight regional study groups, plus the VASS officers. We will distribute the minutes of each meeting by means of a Superintendent's Memorandum. The minutes of the meeting of January 8, 1999, are attached. If you have questions regarding this information, please contact Richard Layman at (804) 225-2024. Thank you. PDS/dr Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attach- ment will be sent to the superintendent's office. Meeting of the Public Education Superintendent's Advisory Council Friday, January 8, 1999 Present: Superintendents' Group: Mark A. Edwards, Howard E. Wainwright, Russell L. Watson, Philip L. Worrell, Dennis W. Kellison, Steven R. Staples, Walter McFarlane, superintendent of the Department of Correctional Education, and Alfred R. Butler, IV, executive director, and Andy Stamp, assistant executive director, VASS. Department of Education: Paul D. Stapleton, Kirk T. Schroder, Richard W. Layman, M. Kenneth Magill, Ms. M. Jo Bunce, Ms. Cameron Harris, Ms. Diane Atkinson, Ms. Bethann Canada, ViJay Ramnarain, Richard Schley, and Harry L. Smith. The Superintendent of Public Instruction opened the meeting and distributed copies of a press release on the results of the first administration of the Standards of Learning tests. The press release reported that only 39 (2.2 percent) of more than 1,800 public schools in Virginia met accreditation standards in all four SOL subjects--English, mathematics, science, and history and social science. Mr. Stapleton said he believes the public schools can build on the results of the first tests and that substantial improvement will occur in the years ahead. Mr. Schroder, president of the Board of Education, said the results of the tests in some schools, whose demographics and fiscal resources would have predicted low performance, "did well," indicating that all students can "achieve the goal set by the state." Mr. Schroder also reported the problems with the timing of end-of-course tests will be resolved before the next administration of the SOL tests. He said the Board of Education is looking at a "three-to-five-week window" in which the tests would be given before the end of the current school year. He added that this would be "a dramatic improvement" and stated that he does not believe "we can do better than that" to solve the problem which he called the "number one priority" for the board. Dr. Butler, speaking for VASS, expressed appreciation for the effort to deal with the problem and congratulated the president of the board and the state superintendent for working with school divisions on issues related to the SOL tests. Mr. Schroder also reported that if a public school is warned that its accreditation is in jeopardy and the school shows continuing improvement it will be designated as a provisionally accredited school. This, he said, is the Board of Education's interpretation of a provision of the new school accreditation standards. Ms. Canada, director of the Management Information Systems, gave a brief visual presentation of the results of the SOL tests that are available on the World Wide Web. Ms. Harris, assistant superintendent for assessment and reporting, responded to questions about the SOL testing program. She told the superintendents that the department is working on ways to deal with SOL curriculum problems. She said a document may be necessary to clarify content and knowledge needed for history and perhaps other subjects. Mr. Stapleton emphasized the importance of improving instruction for all children in public schools, and he suggested that the Governor's Best Practice Centers may help in achieving that objective. He said he has recommended using a corps of retired teachers and administrators to assist public schools throughout the state. He expressed hope that the Governor will provide funds to support this project. Mr. Stapleton said the department is looking at incentive efforts that might be adopted to help school divisions meet accreditation standards. He said the two main issues are focused on disparity among school divisions and teachers' performance. Dr. Edwards suggested that the superintendents read an article by William L. Saunders in the December issue of the School Administrators' magazine that deals with a 10-year study of the effectiveness of classroom teachers. Charles Finley, director of accreditation, reported on the status of the school accreditation program. He said the Department of Education is trying to find one school improvement plan that all divisions can use, and is looking at problems caused by mobility of students. Dr. Edwards stated that Henrico County has an annual school improvement plan which he offered to share with other superintendents. Dr. Butler suggested that there should be greater cooperation between the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Department of Education in working with school improvement plans. Mr. Layman, deputy superintendent for external operations, said the Assessment Committee of superintendents will be asked to consider this and other issues when it meets on dates to be selected. Several superintendents said the Department of Education needs to examine special education problems related to the SOL tests. The state superintendent said the department is trying to deal with that issue. ViJay Ramnarain, architectural consultant in the Department of Education, distributed copies of a school safety audit requested by the General Assembly. The superintendents were told that legislation in the 1999 General Assembly would require written school safety audits to be kept in the central office of each school division. Mr. Ramnarain said meetings are scheduled to obtain as much input as possible on the safety audits. Mr. Layman reported that another issue involves summer school remediation programs. The superintendents were reminded of differences in the length of programs and the hours in which they are conducted. He said this also is an issue that the superintendents should look at and he indicated he will ask for their assistance. Mr. Layman also noted that the Board of Education is interested in recognizing outstanding students and teachers in the state and would like to develop a list of individuals to be honored. He asked the superintendents to contact their counterparts in the regional study groups and ask that the names of students and teachers be provided. Ms. Atkinson, assistant superintendent for policy and planning, distributed a list of bills already introduced for action by the 1999 General Assembly. She said the Department of Education will provide a tracking report on legislation each Friday on the website during the current session of the legislature.