COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 138

July 9, 2004

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Board of Education Exemption of Selected Special Education Teaching Categories from the Requirements of the Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA)

 

On June 23, 2004, the Board of Education approved the exemption of early childhood special education teachers, speech-language pathologists and teachers of students with severe disabilities from the requirements of the Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA). Please note that the VRA will be required of all candidates applying for licensure as elementary (prek-3 or prek-6) teachers, special education teachers, or reading specialists beginning July 1, 2004.

The VRA includes two separate assessments: (1) the Virginia Reading Assessment for Elementary and Special Education Teachers, and (2) the Virginia Reading Assessment for Reading Specialists.

 

During the first two years of administration, there will be no established cut score (proficiency level) for the VRA. Prior to July 1, 2006, the Board of Education will receive results of a validation and standard-setting procedure to determine a cut score for the assessment. Additionally, since the first VRA administration will occur September 18, 2004, documentation of completion of the assessment should accompany licensure requests submitted to the Division of Teacher Education and Licensure beginning January 1, 2005. A series of questions generated regarding the VRA will be discussed at meetings scheduled this summer for school division human resources directors, licensure specialists and representatives of Virginias colleges and universities with approved teacher preparation programs.

 

The VRA is administered six times each year at varying locations throughout Virginia. Online administration of the assessment will be available in the future. The Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA) 2004-2005 Registration Bulletin provides general information about the VRA and information and forms necessary to register for the assessment. Electronic copies of the bulletin may be obtained in PDF format, free of charge, on the VRA website: www.vra.nesinc.com. The PDF format does NOT include a registration form. Registration forms are available ONLY in the current printed registration bulletin. Internet registration for the September 18, 2004, to July 23, 2005, test administrations will be available during the summer of 2004.

 

House Joint Resolution Number 794 (HJR 794), agreed to by the 2001 session of the Virginia General Assembly, requested the Department of Education, in cooperation with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, to study the proficiency of Virginia teachers in teaching systematic explicit phonics. A series of initiatives by the Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL) and the Board of Education confirmed the need for consistent instruction in reading for persons aspiring to teach, as well as those already employed in classrooms.

 

On April 29, 2003, the Board of Education adopted a Resolution to Enhance the Teaching of Reading in Virginia. One goal of the plan to implement that resolution is to develop a reading assessment aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning and the National Reading Panels five key components of effective reading instruction phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. That goal will be achieved through the requirement and administration of the VRA. Additionally, the test will help identify teaching candidates who have the knowledge and skills in teaching reading that are important for performing the job of an elementary (prek-3 or prek-6) or special education teacher or reading specialist in Virginia public schools.

 

For additional information regarding the VRA, please contact Dr. Thomas A. Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education and licensure, (mailto: telliott@pen.k12.va.us) at (804) 371-2522 or Mrs. Patty S. Pitts, director of licensure, (mailto: ppitts@pen.k12.va.us) at (804) 371-2471, or Dr. JoAnne Y. Carver, director of teacher education, (mailto: jcarver@mail.vak12ed.edu) at (804) 371-2475.

 

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