Superintendent's Memo #292-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

October 16, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Revisions to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia - Changes for the 2009-2010 School Year

The revisions to the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia adopted by the Board of Education on February 19, 2009, became effective July 31, 2009. With three exceptions which are effective immediately (see the pertinent sections below), the regulations are to be implemented for the 2010-2011 school year:

1 . Double Testing

8VAC20-131-30C. includes a provision that permits students in kindergarten through grade 12 to participate in remediation recovery programs as established by the board in English (Reading) or mathematics or both.
For ratings beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, based on tests administered in the 2009-2010 school year, the following guidance applies:

Students who fail the grade 3 through 8 reading and/or mathematics SOL tests may participate in a remediation recovery program after being promoted to the next grade. If these students pass the tests at the next grade, including end-of-course tests, their scores will be counted twice in the school's accreditation pass rate-once as part of the pass rate for the grade in which they are currently enrolled and a second time under remediation recovery. If a remediation recovery student fails the test, then the student's score is counted only once for the school's accreditation rating.

Students who fail the grade 8 reading or mathematics test and participate in a remediation recovery program after being promoted to the next grade may retake the applicable SOL test at the next regularly scheduled administration if they are not enrolled in a class with an associated end-of-course test. Similarly, if a student fails an end-of-course reading or mathematics test and participates in a remediation recovery program, the student may retake the applicable SOL test at the next regularly scheduled administration. If a student retakes and passes the grade 8 or end-of-course reading or mathematics test under remediation recovery, the student's score will be counted twice, once for the purposes of accreditation and a second time as part of remediation recovery. If a remediation recovery student fails the retake of the grade or end-of-course test, then the student's score is not counted for the school's accreditation.

8 VAC 20-131-30.B. includes a provision that prohibits the double-testing of students in grades K-8. The standard states "No student shall take more than one test in any content area in each year."

The new language clarifies the Board of Education's intent with regard to testing of students in grades K-8. Where students are accelerated (i.e., studying content in a subject area that is typically taught above their grade placement level such as a student taking Algebra I in grade 7), students are to take the test for the higher level content. Schools are prohibited from testing students more than once in a content area per school year. However, if a student in grades 3-8 completes a class associated with an end-of-course SOL test in addition to covering grade level content (e.g., grade 7 mathematics and Algebra I in a block schedule school), the student may be tested more than once in the same content area during the school year. Further, students who are retaking a test for verified credit may be tested more than once in the same content in a school year. School divisions should be aware that only one test score, that of the higher level content will be counted in the calculation of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and accreditation for students who are tested more than once in a school year under the exceptions described above. Other than these exceptions, under no circumstance should the student take more than one test in the same content area in a school year.

2. Virtual Virginia

8 VAC 20-131-60.C. includes a provision that schools must give credit for courses completed through Virtual Virginia when students transfer into a Virginia public school.

The new language states the Board's intent that students be given credit for courses completed through the Virtual Virginia program whether they were enrolled in a public or nonpublic school or home-schooled prior to the transfer. If that student transfers in having received credit for Virtual Virginia coursework, then that credit must be accepted without regard as to whether the course is offered in the receiving school division or not. As an example: If this student is working toward an Advanced Studies diploma and took two years of a foreign language through Virtual Virginia, the school division must accept this credit toward the foreign language requirement, not toward elective requirements.

3. Student Records

8 VAC 20-131-60.E. and 8 VAC 20-131-300.B. include the requirement that students who transfer from one Virginia public school to another Virginia public school retain their original State Testing Identifier (STI). If the students transfer from out-of-state schools, private schools, or home-schooling, they must be assigned an STI immediately upon enrollment. (NOTE: Students who transfer from another Virginia public school must be enrolled using the same STI that was assigned at the student's former school. If the transferring student had previously been enrolled in a Virginia public school since the implementation of the state's Educational Information Management System (EIMS), transferred out and is returning, the student's original STI should be reassigned to that student.)

The new language is intended to: 1) ensure that all students enrolled in Virginia public schools have been properly recorded in the student record collection of the state's Educational Information Management System (EIMS); and 2) facilitate accurate reporting of the graduation and completion index that will be used as a part of the calculation of accreditation ratings beginning in the 2010-2011 school year for ratings awarded for the 2011-2012 school year.

Finally, HB 2166 passed by the 2009 General Assembly provides for the delayed implementation of statutes and regulations, upon which the accreditation of schools in the Commonwealth is based that are not already in effect on June 30, 2008, until July 1, 2010, unless such statutes or regulations are also specifically required by federal code, federal regulation, or court action. Therefore, the benchmarks for full accreditation based on tests administered in 2009-2010 that will be the basis for accreditation ratings in the 2010-2011 school year will be the same benchmarks used for 2008-2009 ratings and the 2009-2010 ratings. The following chart shows those benchmarks:
Benchmarks for Fully Accredited Ratings
for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 Academic Years*
Subject
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grades 6 to 12
English
75%
75%
75%
70%
Mathematics
70%
70%
70%
70%
Science
50%
-
70%
70%
History/Social Science
50%
70%
70%
70%

*Based upon tests administered in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

*Beginning with tests administered in 2010-2011, the pass rate for English will rise to 75% for all grades and the pass rates for the other three core areas will remain at 70%. This will be the first year where the Graduation and Completion Index will be a factor.

Staff in the VDOE is in the process of updating the Guidance Document Governing Certain Provisions of the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (8 VAC 20-131.) adopted by the Board of Education on October 25, 2006, and amended on July 25, 2007. You can obtain more information about the regulations and the guidance document at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/index.shtml.

Questions regarding the standards may be directed to the Office of Policy and Communications at (804) 225-2092 or e-mailed to Policy@doe.virginia.gov.

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