# Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions are available for:

### Algebra Readiness Initiative

### Algebra Readiness Diagnostic Test

## Algebra Readiness Initiative

1. What is the Algebra Readiness Initiative (ARI)?

Since 2002, the ARI has provided mathematics intervention resources and services to students in grades 6, 7, 8, and 9 who are at risk of failing the Algebra I end-of-course assessment, as demonstrated by their individual performance on diagnostic tests that have been developed by or approved by the Department of Education. The ARI consists of two major components: 1) a diagnostic assessment designed to guide instructional decisions for students that may need intervention services and 2) targeted intervention services for students.

2. Who determines which students are at risk?

The school division determines which students should be targeted for diagnostic testing and then subsequently for intervention services. The identified group may include:

- students in grades 6-9 at risk of failing the Algebra I end-of-course test;
- students not successful in previous intervention programs;
- students who performed below average in their previous year's mathematics program;
- students identified by teachers through formal and informal assessment; and/or
- students who did not pass their previous mathematics standards of learning assessment.

3. What is the Algebra Readiness Diagnostic Test (ARDT)?

The ARDT is computer-adaptive diagnostic assessment tool in mathematics. It is designed to assess and diagnose each student’s mathematical strengths and weaknesses in relation to the Virginia Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL). The ARDT includes two types of tests: Grade-level Tests and Strand Tests. The ARDT Grade-level Test is administered as a pre- and post- test measure to determine student skill areas requiring further development and to determine growth in student skills over time.

**Grade-level Tests**– This is the first diagnostic test administered to each student. These 30-item, computer-adaptive tests assess content mastery for a particular grade level. Grade-level tests may also contain questions from previous grade levels if grade-level mastery is not evident. Grade-level Test results may assist in determining the need for student intervention and in identifying specific content strands needing instructional remediation. The Grade-level Test may be given multiple times to track student progress.**Strand Tests**– Strand Tests can be assigned to a student after they have taken the Grade-level Test. The computer-adaptive Strand Tests are 10 problems in length and focus on a particular content strand. Strand Test results can be used to determine strengths and areas of challenge within the content strand. Please note that Strand tests can only be assigned to a student individually, one at a time. This means that the steps outlined in this guide for assigning a test must be repeated for each Strand test a student is to take. One SDU containing each strand test could also be uploaded.**Audio Versions of Grade-level and Strand Tests**– Audio versions are available for students who regularly receive an audio or read-aloud accommodation.

4. Must school divisions use the ARDT?

The school division may opt to use a locally-developed or selected diagnostic test which must align with specified criteria and must be approved by VDOE. Requests for use of locally-developed or selected diagnostic tests are provided to the VDOE via the Standards of Quality (SOQ) Compliance reports submitted by each superintendent’s office at the beginning of the school year.

5. Is there criteria for selecting a locally-developed or selected?

Yes. Locally-designed or selected diagnostic tests must meet the following criteria:

- Assess the students' knowledge and skills of the Mathematics Standards of Learning for grades three through eight, and Algebra I.
- Support the following five goals for students found in the Standards of Learning: 1) Becoming Mathematical Problem Solvers; 2) Communicating Mathematically; 3) Reasoning Mathematically; 4) Making Mathematical Connections; and 5) Making Mathematical Representations.
- Identify mathematics content strengths and challenges, and indicate the level of performance where intervention may be necessary to be successful in each of the following categories for grades three through eight and/or Algebra I:
Grades three through eight:

- Number and Number Sense;
- Computation and Estimation;
- Measurement and Geometry;
- Probability and Statistics; and
- Patterns, Functions, and Algebra.

- Expressions and Operations;
- Functions;
- Equations and Inequalities; and
- Statistics.
- Meets industry standards for validity and reliability of the items and tests proposed. Such standards should include field testing and proper test form construction.

Algebra I:

6. Who determines the intervention service model?

The school division determines and designs the local intervention service model.

7. What are the requirements of an intervention program?

The requirements are:

- The intervention services should provide 2½ hours of instruction per week in addition to regular classroom instruction.
- The intervention service should be provided on a student/teacher ratio of 10 to 1.
- A pre- and post-assessment must be administered to students that participate in the intervention program.
- Local school division determines and designs the local intervention model.
- Students targeted to participate in the intervention program will include those who did not pass the appropriate diagnostic test.

8. What funds are available to school divisions for the Algebra Readiness Initiative (ARI)?

Local school divisions receive incentive funding from the state to provide intervention services based upon the estimated number of students requiring intervention and the composite index of local ability to pay. The estimated number of students requiring intervention was determined by multiplying the projected number of seventh- and eighth-grade students in each school division’s fall membership by the percent that qualify for the federal Free Lunch Program.

9. What can the ARI funds purchase?

School divisions receive incentive payments to provide mathematics intervention services to students in the targeted grades, including teachers and paraprofessionals for tutoring, student transportation to and from intervention services, and other costs associated with providing intervention services.

The 2011 General Assembly added language to the *Code of Virginia* that allows school divisions to use ARI funding to employ mathematics teacher specialists to provide the required mathematics intervention services. School divisions using the ARI funding in this manner shall only employ instructional personnel licensed by the Board of Education.

10. If ARI funds are not completely used, can funding be carried over to the following year?

Funding carryover is not guaranteed and, if granted, is typically announced by Superintendent’s Memo.

11. Who completes ARI annual reports to the Department of Education?

Any school division using the ARDT does not need to complete an annual report to DOE. School divisions using a locally-developed or selected diagnostic test must provide pre- and post-test information on students who participated in the Algebra Readiness Intervention. See Annual Diagnostic Test Report (PDF)

## Algebra Readiness Diagnostic Test

1. What types of tests are available through the ARDT?

The ARDT includes two types of tests:

**Grade-level Tests**– This is the first diagnostic test administered to each student. These 30-item, computer-adaptive tests assess content mastery for a particular grade level. Grade-level tests may also contain questions from previous grade levels if grade-level mastery is not evident. Grade-level Test results may assist in determining the need for student intervention and in identifying specific content strands needing instructional remediation. The Grade-level Test may be given multiple times to track student progress.**Strand Tests**– Strand Tests can be assigned to a student after they have taken the Grade-level Test. The computer-adaptive Strand Tests are 10 problems in length and focus on a particular content strand. Strand Test results can be used to determine strengths and areas of challenge within the content strand. Please note that Strand tests can only be assigned to a student individually, one at a time. This means that the steps outlined in this guide for assigning a test must be repeated for each Strand test a student is to take. One SDU containing each strand test could also be uploaded.**Audio Versions of Grade-level and Strand Tests**– Audio versions are available for students who regularly receive an audio or read-aloud accommodation.

2. Is there a specific testing window for the ARDT?

The testing window for ARDT is a year-long window opens on or near August 25 of each year and closes on or near August 15 of the following year. Testing may occur at any time during the testing window.

3. How are state-provided ARDT testing units allocated?

Each participating school division is allotted a number of test units based upon the estimated number of students requiring intervention and the composite index of local ability to pay. The estimated number of students requiring intervention was determined by multiplying the projected number of seventh- and eighth-grade students in each school division’s fall membership by the percent that qualify for the federal Free Lunch Program.

4. When do ARDT test units expire?

State-allocated test units expire on or near August 15 of each year (last day of the testing window each year). Locally purchased testing units do not expire.

5. Should I give Algebra I students the CAT-Alg or the CAT-8?

The Grade-level Test for Algebra I (CAT-Alg) assess students on Algebra I content only. The Grade-level Test for Grade 8 (CAT-8) assesses content mastery of the prerequisite content skills for Algebra I.

6. Are students allowed to use calculators on the ARDT?

Students may use a state-approved scientific calculator (grades 6-8) or graphing calculator (Algebra I) on items that are not indicated as non-calculator active items.

7. Can ARDT results be used to determine placement in Algebra 1 classes?

This test was designed as a diagnostic tool, not a placement tool. It may be used as one of many criteria that inform decisions about appropriate student placement.

8. Whom do I contact if I have additional questions?

**Questions about the Algebra Readiness Initiative and intervention services?**

Michael Bolling, Director

Office of Mathematics and Governor’s Schools

Virginia Department of Education

Phone: 804-786-6418

Email: Michael.Bolling@doe.virginia.gov

Christa Southall, Mathematics Specialist

Virginia Department of Education

Phone: 804-225-2016

Email: Christa.Southall@doe.virginia.gov

**Questions about PearsonAccess and test management?**

Pearson Customer Support

Email: vap@support.pearson.com

Phone: 866-650-9425

Hours available: Mon-Fri 7 a.m. EST - 8:30p.m. EST