COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 212

September 5, 2008

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Notice of Public Hearings and 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 (8 VAC 20-130-10 et. seq.)

 

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. Pursuant to 22.1-17 of the Code of Virginia the Board and the Department of Education are required to send a copy of the statement to each division superintendent.

 

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 Virginia's 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 Virginia Register of Regulations, Volume 24, Issue 26, page 3729, September 1, 2008. http://legis.state.va.us/codecomm/Register/vol24/iss26/v24i26.pdf. This analysis addresses all changes that are part of the proposed revisions.

 

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.

 

The current regulations were adopted by the Board of Education on May 24, 2006, and became effective September 7, 2006. In July 2006, the president of the Board, Dr. Mark Emblidge, formed a special committee of the Board of Education to research and recommend policies to reduce the number of students who drop out of high school and to improve graduation rates, especially among minority students. The proposed revisions are an outgrowth of the work both of that committee and of the Board's adoption of a graduation rate formula in November 2006: Graduation rate = [On-time graduates in Year X] / [(First-time entering ninth graders in Year X-4) + (Transfers in) (Transfers out)]. In the fall of 2008, the records of first-time ninth graders in 2004-2005 will be able to be linked to their records four years later to determine their graduation status.

 

The proposed revisions are also in response to legislation passed by the 2007 General Assembly that requires the Board of Education to establish the requirements for the Standard Technical and Advanced Technical Diplomas. HB 2039 and SB 1147 require the Board to:

 

Establish the requirements for a technical diploma. This diploma shall meet or exceed the requirements of a standard diploma and will include a concentration in career and technical education, as established in Board regulations. A student who meets the requirement for the advanced studies diploma who also fulfills a concentration in career and technical education shall receive an advanced technical diploma. The Board may develop or designate assessments in career and technical education for the purposes of awarding verified credit pursuant to subdivision 6.

 

Finally, in 2007, the House Education Committee, while not taking action on HB 3201, related to removing students from classes, requested the Chairman write a letter to the Board of Education asking that the Board consider this issue in its review of applicable regulations, and report back to the patron and the committee. Language in response to this bill is included in the proposed revisions.

 

There are a number of substantive changes to the regulations, most notably in 8 VAC 20-131-50 creating the Standard Technical and Advanced Technical diplomas as required by General Assembly action. Other substantive changes are found in 8 VAC 20-131-140 where an Academic and Career Plan for students beginning in grade seven is proposed at the Governor's request. Changes have been proposed in 8 VAC 20-131-300 to establish a graduation and completion index that all schools with a graduating class would be required to meet in order to be fully accredited.

 

Most of the requirements set forth in the current Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia will be retained. The primary purposes of the revisions are to:

 

  • Incorporate changes in state law 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.
  • Address concerns of the Virginia Board of Education.
  • Clarify language in the current regulations.

 

The primary changes are designed to:

 

  • Clarify that students shall be required to take only one test per content area in each tested grade in 8 VAC 20-131-30. This language is proposed to eliminate any double testing of advanced students in content areas and to reduce the testing costs to the state associated with double testing.
  • Amend elective requirements for the Standard diploma from six to five electives in order to require one credit in foreign language, economics, or personal finance in 8 VAC 20-131-50.
  • Increase credit requirements for the Advanced Studies diploma for graduation effective for students beginning with the ninth grade class of 2009-2010 in 8 VAC 20-131-50.
  • Include credit requirements for the Standard Technical and Advanced Technical diplomas in 8 VAC 20-131-50.
  • Include the Governor's proposal to require an Academic and Career Plan for students beginning in grade seven in 8 VAC 20-131-140.

        Include requirements that the principal notify parents when a student is removed from classes for disciplinary reasons for two or more consecutive days in 8 VAC 20-131-210 in response to HB 3201.

  • Include a graduation and completion index in school accreditation in 8 VAC 20-131-280.
  • Include a graduation and completion index and add an accreditation rating category Provisionally Accredited Graduation Rate to address the use of a graduation and completion index for the first time in the accreditation of schools in 8 VAC 20-131-300.
  • Add language to permit school divisions to receive recognitions and rewards from the Board of Education for accountability performance. Existing language currently allows only schools to be recognized and rewarded.

 

Estimated Administrative Impact: New administrative impact resulting from the revised regulations would be the impact on school divisions' staff to address the requirement to develop an academic and career plan for students beginning in grade seven in 8 VAC 20-131-140.

 

Projected Costs of Implementation: There is minimal cost to the state to implement and enforce the proposed regulation. Existing budgets should be sufficient to fund the state's responsibilities. Under the current methodology for calculating the Standards of Quality (SOQ) costs, the proposed changes would not have an impact on state SOQ funding.

 

Additionally, the proposed changes do not impact other sources of state funding to school divisions.

In reference to the Standard Technical Diploma and Advanced Technical Diploma bills (HB 2039 and SB 1147) the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget has stated that:

 

It is anticipated that this [legislation] will not have an immediate fiscal impact to the state, other than some negligible administrative costs. However, if the number of students who seek this degree increases significantly in future years, it may eventually create the need for additional career and technical education teachers and facilities to accommodate the growing demand. This could result in the need for additional state funding; however, at this time, there is no way to reliably estimate the number of students who will seek this degree if created so the potential impact is unknown.

 

For local school divisions there is the potential for an increase in the cost of implementing the proposed revisions for the requirement to develop an academic and career plan for students beginning in grade seven in 8 VAC 20-131-140. However, the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget has stated that [c]reading, maintaining and reviewing the Academic and Career Plan will take staff time. If done well the benefits will likely exceed the costs.

 

A potential increase in the cost of implementing the proposed revisions may also result from the requirement that unless otherwise specified, these regulations are effective for the 2009-2010 school year.

 

Public Hearings:

 

The Board of Education will hold five public hearings to receive public comment regarding the proposed revisions. The public hearings will be held at the following locations on October 30, 2008. The hearings will commence at 7 p.m. Any person interested in commenting must register to comment no later than 7:30 p.m. Persons making comments will be given three minutes to address Board member(s) present. It is recommended that any person making comments bring copies of any remarks, and provide them to Department of Education staff during registration.

 

Thomas A. Edison High School- Fairfax County Public Schools
5801 Franconia Rd
Alexandria, VA 22310

 

Highland Springs High School-Henrico County Public Schools

15 S Oak Avenue
Highland Springs, Virginia 23075

 

Jolliff Middle School-Chesapeake City Public Schools

1021 Jolliff Road
Chesapeake, Virginia 23321

 

Waynesboro High School-Waynesboro City Public Schools

1200 Main Street
Waynesboro, Virginia 22980

 

George Wythe High School-Wythe County Public Schools

1 Maroon Way
Wytheville, Virginia 24382

 

As part of the administrative process for the development of regulations the public will have the opportunity to submit written comment to the Board of Education. Written comment may be e-mailed to SOACOMMENTS@doe.virginia.gov or mailed to Office of Policy, Virginia Department of Education, P.O. Box 2120, Richmond, Virginia 23218. The public comment period commenced September 1, 2008, and closes November 5, 2008.

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

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