COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
April 1, 2011
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
At its meeting on March 24, 2011, the Virginia Board of Education took several important actions related to the revision of the state textbook approval process; the status of textbook approval for mathematics, English/Language Arts, and science; and issues related to history and social science textbooks published by Five Ponds Press.
Textbook Approval Process
The Board of Education’s revised textbook approval process places primary responsibility on publishers to ensure the accuracy of their textbooks. The new textbook submission forms contain a certification by publishers that each textbook submitted for approval has been reviewed for factual accuracy by experts qualified in the subject matter and an agreement that the publisher will submit a corrective action plan to respond to any substantial errors identified in a book after its approval by the Board of Education. Corrective action plans must be approved by the Board of Education, but the Board delegated the approval of corrective action plans not involving significant errors to the superintendent of public instruction. Corrective plans may include, but are not limited to: a) corrections upon reprinting of the textbook; b) corrective edits to an online textbook; c) electronic errata sheets posted on the publisher’s and the Department of Education’s Web sites; d) print errata sheets provided to schools for insertion into textbooks; e) replacement books; and f) return of the textbook and refund of any payment made for the textbook. Corrective action plans must be executed at the publisher’s expense.
The complete proposal as it was presented to the Board is available online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2011/03_mar/agenda_items/item_g.pdf. However, edits were made to the language in the publisher’s submission forms during the Board meeting. The final revised process and submission forms are available on the Department of Education’s Web page related to textbooks and instructional materials at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/textbooks/index.shtml.
Section 22.1-238 of the Code of Virginia permits local school boards to approve textbooks that are not on the state-approved list provided the school board selects such books in accordance with regulations promulgated by the state Board. The Board of Education encourages local school boards that opt to approve books that are not on the state-approved list to engage in a process similar to the Board’s new process, where they request from publishers certifications of accuracy and agreements related to correcting errors. The forms available at the Web site noted above would be good models for such certifications and agreements.
Status of Textbook Approval for Mathematics, English/Language Arts, and Science
In approving the new textbook review process, the Board of Education also indicated that all future textbooks presented to the Board for approval are subject to the completion of the certifications and agreements. This includes mathematics textbooks that are currently under review, as they have not yet been presented to the Board. Department of Education staff have already notified publishers whose mathematics textbooks met initial Standards of Learning correlations of the need to complete the forms before their mathematics textbooks can be moved forward for first review by the Board. It is important to note, however, that these books have not been approved by the Board of Education, and the review process will not be complete until the Department of Education receives and reviews the publishers’ certifications and agreements and the Board of Education approves a list of textbooks.
It is anticipated that proposed mathematics textbooks will go to the Board of Education for first review in May 2011. Following a required 30-day public comment period, the list of proposed mathematics textbooks will likely be presented to the Board for final review in July 2011. If a school division is interested in the status of an individual publisher’s mathematics textbooks, it may contact that publisher for information on whether it has been requested to complete the new forms, and if it intends to do so. Completion of the forms alone, however, does not guarantee that the Board will approve the books.
English/Language Arts and Science Textbooks
The Board of Education approved timelines to initiate the textbook review process in both English/Language Arts and in science. The review process in English will begin in April 2011, with a list of state-approved textbooks anticipated by April 2012. A separate superintendent’s memorandum will be posted on April 1, 2011, providing additional information about that process.
The review process in science will begin in September 2011, with a list of state-approved textbooks anticipated by September 2012. The complete timelines approved by the Board for both subject areas are available at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2011/03_mar/agenda_items/item_m.pdf.
Actions Related to Five Ponds Press
On January 13, 2011, the Virginia Board of Education unanimously approved a motion that, in part, directed the Superintendent of Public Instruction:
On March 24, 2011, the Board took the following actions related to the January motion:
Please note that neither the Board of Education nor the Department of Education has directed school divisions to remove the books in question from classrooms. The determination of how to address the current situation with the Five Ponds books is a local decision. If Five Ponds Press chooses to resubmit for review second editions of Our Virginia: Past and Present and Our America to 1865, the books will be subject to the new textbook approval process. The Department will make every effort to expedite the process once Five Ponds Press has submitted all information required for the review. The results of that review will determine whether or not the new editions are added to the approved list. Five Ponds Press has made reference to offering free second editions of these books to school divisions that bought the first edition books. School divisions should contact Five Ponds Press for further details about this option.
If you have questions about the information provided in this memorandum, please contact the following Department of Education staff members as indicated: