COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
February 19, 2010
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
As a result of numerous inquiries we have received as a result of this winter’s weather, we are reminding you of the requirements for instructional time in the school year. The Code of Virginia, in § 22.1-98 (see http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+22.1-98), and in Board of Education regulations, at 8 VAC 21-521-10 et seq. require school divisions to provide instruction for a minimum of 180 days or 990 hours each school year. If the school division cannot meet the requirement for 180 days or 990 hours of instruction because of bad weather or other emergencies, days missed must be made up in accordance with the formula outlined in the Code, which requires that the school division must make up the first five days, and then make up one day for every two days missed. As outlined in the regulations, you may use instructional time built into your calendar that exceeds the 990 instructional hour minimum or add time to the remaining days to offset the days missed.
However, the Code goes on to say: "...the Board of Education may waive the requirement that school divisions provide additional teaching days or teaching hours to compensate for school closings resulting from a declared state of emergency. If the local school board desires a waiver, it shall submit a request to the Board of Education. The request shall include evidence of efforts that have been made by the school division to reschedule as many days as possible and certification by the division superintendent and chairman of the local school board that every reasonable effort for making up lost teaching days or teaching hours was exhausted before requesting a waiver of this requirement. If the waiver is denied, the school division shall make up the missed instructional time in accordance with this section."
We have also received inquires regarding the instructional time requirements found in 8 VAC 20-131-80, 8 VAC 20-131-90, 8 VAC 20-131-110 of the accrediting standards for elementary and middle schools and high school credit bearing courses. Should you find that you are unable to meet those requirements, you may seek a waiver from the Board of Education as provided for in the standards. You may also want to review the information we recently circulated relating to alternatives for awarding standard and verified credit.
Finally, we have received inquiries regarding this year’s Standards of Learning testing schedule. Except for the writing test, which must be administered on specific dates, school divisions have a great deal of flexibility in when they test. The testing window begins in mid-April and goes through June. We do ask that you let us know if you decide to test later than you originally told us. Moving the writing test is more difficult mainly because the response to the prompt must be scored by people, and we are scheduled to have scorers available during a particular time period. As communicated in an earlier Supts E-mail, the Department is investigating the feasibility of adding a later testing date for school divisions that need to delay the writing test. If you have questions or problems, please contact the Office of Student Assessment at Student_Assessment@doe.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 225-2102.
If you have questions regarding instructional time requirements or make-up time, please contact the Office of Policy at Policy@doe.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 225-2092.