COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 66

March 17, 2006

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Patricia I. Wright

Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Transmittal of Statement of Administrative Impact and Project Costs of Implementation for the Proposed Revisions to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia

 

As part of its responsibility for promulgating new regulations or revisions to existing regulations, the Board of Education is required to develop a statement of the administrative impact and projected cost to school divisions of implementing and complying with such regulations. The board and the Department of Education are required to send a copy of the statement to each division superintendent [See 22.1-17 of the Code of

Virginia].

 

Section 22.1-19 of the Code of Virginia requires that the Board of Education prescribe standards and provide for the accreditation of public elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Section 22.1-253.13:3 of the Code of Virginia requires the Board of Education to promulgate Standards of Accreditation for Virginias K-12 public schools. The Code states:

 

The Board of Education shall promulgate regulations establishing standards for accreditation pursuant to the Administrative Process Act ( 2.2-4000 et seq.), which shall include, but not be limited to, student outcome measures, requirements and guidelines for instructional programs and for the integration of educational technology into such instructional programs, administrative and instructional staffing levels and positions, including staff positions for supporting educational technology, student services, auxiliary education programs such as library and media services, course and credit requirements for graduation from high school, community relations, and the philosophy, goals, and objectives of public education in Virginia.

 

The Board of Education is in the process of revising its Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia. The proposed revisions were initially published in the November 28, 2005, edition of the Virginia Register of Regulations, Volume 22, Issue 6. This analysis addresses all changes that were part of that proposal and revisions that have been made since the publication date.

 

The regulations define the requirements for accrediting public schools in Virginia. They set the minimum standards necessary for each school in the commonwealth to provide the foundation for high quality education programs with the goal of preparing the children of the commonwealth to become self-sufficient and informed citizens. Those standards form the basis for the day-to-day operation of the educational program in each public school in Virginia.

 

The current regulations contain provisions governing:

 

  • Philosophy, goals, and objectives for each school;
  • Student academic achievement, including student expectations, testing requirements, and graduation requirements;
  • Instructional programs for elementary, middle, and secondary schools;
  • Roles and responsibilities of the principal(s), professional teaching staff, and support staff, as well as staffing requirements;
  • School facilities and safety;
  • School and community communications, including a school performance report card; and
  • Accreditation of schools, including school-level expectations, reporting requirements, and procedures for accreditation.

 

Most of the requirements set forth in the current Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (8 VAC 20-130-10 et. seq.) will be retained. The primary purposes of the revisions are to:

 

  • Clarify language in the current regulations.
  • Revise the standards to incorporate changes in state law and federal law or regulation as well as statewide initiatives that have been implemented since the standards were last revised. Some, but not all, of these changes are highlighted in this memorandum.
  • Reinstate language based on public comments received.
  • Clarify consequences for schools that fail to meet the accreditation requirements.

 

The primary changes are designed to:

 

  • Add to the goals outlined in the standards a requirement to increase graduation rates.
  • Expand the provisions for students to earn verified credits for graduation.
  • Ensure that the language in the current regulations regarding the modified standard diploma remains intact. The proposal published in the November 28, 2005, edition of the Virginia Register of Regulations changed language related to the modified standard diploma.
  • Require middle schools to offer Algebra I to all students in the eighth grade.
  • Incorporate the existing Early College Scholars program into the standards.
  • Address the issues of student periods and class periods for instructional time and scheduling configurations.
  • Clarify language regarding transfer students, additional course requirements for transfer students, and the Boards relationship with the Virginia Council for Private Education.
  • Modify the criteria for Board of Education approved tests to permit tests administered as a part of another states accountability program to be approved as substitute tests.

        Require elementary and middle school students to participate in a program of physical fitness during the regular school year in accordance with Board of Education guidelines.

  • Clarify that daily recess is not part of instructional time.
  • Clarify that pass rates for accreditation are based upon testing for grades three through eight.
  • Modify pass rate standards for accreditation ratings, beginning with ratings awarded in the 2010-2011 academic year. For this academic year and beyond, ratings for full accreditation will be based on a 75 percent pass rate in English and 70 percent in mathematics, science, and history and social science.
  • Address a recognitions and rewards policy for school accountability performance.
  • Ensure that the rating for Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation is eliminated after the 2006-2007 academic year. The proposal published in the November 28, 2005, edition of the Virginia Register of Regulations eliminated this rating, with no phase-out period.
  • Clarify the actions the Board of Education may take for schools rated Accreditation Denied. These actions include, but are not limited to: 1) the establishment of a memorandum of understanding with the local school board and 2) reconstitution options for a school to be awarded a rating of Conditionally Accredited by the Board of Education.
  • Reorder some regulatory sections for a more organized document.

 

Estimated Administrative Impact: New administrative features include the following:

 

Local school boards must:

 

  • Ensure that guidance counselors for elementary schools shall provide a minimum of 60 percent of the time devoted to counseling of students. This provision currently applies to guidance counselors in middle and secondary schools.

        Provide each full-time middle and secondary classroom teacher with one planning period per day or the equivalent, unencumbered of any teaching or supervisory duties.

        Provide that each middle and secondary classroom teachers standard load shall be based on teaching no more than 5/6 of the instructional day, with no more than 150 student periods per day or 25 class periods per week.

  • Apply annually to the Board of Education for a Conditionally Accredited rating for any school that it chooses to reconstitute after receiving an Accreditation Denied rating.

 

Public schools must:

 

  • Accept credits toward graduation from nonpublic schools accredited by one of the constituent accrediting members of the Virginia Council for Private Education.

        Refrain from counting recess as instructional time.

  • Recognize all grade-level work completed in grades K-8 by students transferring from Virginia public schools and nonpublic schools accredited by one of the constituent accrediting members of the Virginia Council for Private Education.
  • Permit, when appropriate, the acceptance of standard credits towards graduation from all other schools when the course generally matches the course for which the receiving school gives standard credit and the school from which the student transfers certifies that the course meets the requirements for a standard credit, as specified in the regulations.
  • Permit a student who transfers to a Virginia high school for the first time during the tenth grade or at the beginning of the eleventh grade, who is pursuing a Standard Diploma, and who completes a career and technical education program sequence to substitute the certificate, occupational competency credential, or license for either a science or a history and social science verified credit.

        Permit students who were in the ninth-grade class of 2003-2004 and beyond to be eligible to earn locally awarded verified credits from the local school board.

  • Undergo an academic review and prepare and implement a school improvement plan when rated Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation.

 

 

Projected Costs of Implementation: Under the current methodology for calculating the Standards of Quality (SOQ) costs, the proposed changes would not have an impact on state SOQ funding because the majority of the SOQ cost for each school division is based on the required number of teachers using a statutorily prescribed pupil-teacher ratio. Other support costs are based on a statewide prevailing cost per pupil. These regulations do not change the pupil-teacher ratio or the administrative and support staff ratio. Likewise, they do not change the methodology used to determine the statewide prevailing support costs.

 

The proposed revisions do define class period, planning period, and student periods for purposes of the middle and secondary classroom teachers standard load and planning period. They further provide that each full-time middle and secondary classroom teacher shall be provided one planning period per day or the equivalent, unencumbered of any teaching or supervisory duties. However, the SOQ funding model currently provides funding for these items; therefore, the states share of Standards of Quality funding is not impacted by these regulatory changes. Any impact on school divisions from these changes are expected to be insignificant since each division already receives SOQ funding for these items.

 

Additionally, the proposed changes do not impact other sources of state funding to school divisions. While most of the requirements are already being met, there is the potential for an increase in the cost of implementing the proposed revisions for the following initiatives:

 

        The option to reconstitute a school that is denied accreditation.

        The requirement that elementary guidance counselors provide a minimum of 60 percent of the time devoted to counseling of students. This provision currently applies to guidance counselors in middle and secondary schools,

        The requirement that middle and secondary teachers standard load shall be based on teaching no more than 5/6 of the instructional day, with no more than 150 student periods per day or 25 class periods per week.

        The requirement that schools rated Accreditation Withheld/Improving School Near Accreditation must also undergo an academic review and prepare and implement a school improvement plan.

        The requirements for schools denied accreditation in 8 VAC 20-131-315 including:

        The school must notify the parents and other interested parties of the accreditation rating within 30 calendar days of receiving the notification, and must provide them with a copy of the proposed corrective action plan and an opportunity to comment on the corrective action plan. Costs associated with this requirement will include the production and distribution of the notification.

        The school must implement the corrective action plan approved by the local school board and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the local school board within 60 days following submission of the corrective action plan to the Board.

        The local school board must submit annual status reports to the Board of Education, and the principal, division superintendent, and chair of the school board may be required to appear before the Board of Education to present the status reports.

 

        The requirement that unless otherwise specified, these regulations are effective for the 2006-2007 school year.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Vucci, director of policy, at (804) 371-0558, or mail to: policy@doe.virginia.gov.

PIW/MKV/cb

 

Attachment

 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2006/inf066a.pdf