Superintendent’s Memo #319-12

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

November 30, 2012

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Strategies for Minimizing Testing Times and Improving Performance on the Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests: A Summary of Interviews with School Division Staff

With the implementation of new tests based on the 2009 Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) in 2011-2012, some divisions experienced an increase in the amount of time taken by students to complete the SOL tests while others did not.  In response to concerns about the amount of testing time associated with the new mathematics tests, the student assessment staff at the Virginia Department of Education conducted interviews with representatives from sixteen divisions whose students achieved at least a 70 percent pass rate for one or more mathematics tests and completed the mathematics SOL tests within the time frames described below. 

In all, 66 school personnel were selected by their divisions to be interviewed. Every interview included classroom teachers.  Mathematics supervisors, principals, division directors of testing, and other division-level administrators participated in most interviews as well.  School divisions from every region were represented, ranging from very small to very large in size and from rural to urban.  In most instances, participating divisions met the criteria above for more than one mathematics SOL test.

In each interview, participants were asked to identify the primary reasons most of their students were able to complete the mathematics SOL tests within these time frames while demonstrating an overall pass rate of at least 70 percent.  Common themes and practices emerged during the process, and these have been categorized into three primary areas: 1) preparation, professional development, and administrative support; 2) classroom instruction; and 3) data analysis and use.  Each of these areas is discussed more fully in the attached summary.

Should you have any questions, please contact the student assessment staff by e-mail at Student_Assessment@doe.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 225-2102. PIW/SLR/cb

Attachment:

  1. Strategies for Minimizing Testing Times and Improving Performance on the New Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests: A Summary of Interviews with School Division Staff (PDF)