P.O. BOX 2120




October 21, 2003







Patricia I. Wright

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction



Project Graduation: Regional Training and Dissemination Sessions on Instructional Materials in English: Reading, English: Writing, and Algebra I


Beginning with the graduating class of 2004, students must, for the first time, pass Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in order to graduate. In particular, students must pass the English: Reading and English: Writing tests, which typically are taken during the junior year. In the spring of 2003, Governor Warner announced the four components of Project Graduation that were devised to assist students graduating in 2004 in earning required standard and verified credits under the 2+4 criteria in a variety of venues.


The Governors Regional Summer Academies were a pilot project designed to help rising seniors who passed the required English courses for graduation but who needed assistance in passing the English SOL tests. An intensive remediation program in Algebra I was also piloted. Chesterfield County Public Schools and the Department of Education partnered with eleven Southside Virginia school divisions to pilot an English and Algebra I SOL summer remediation program.


The number of students allowed to participate was based on a student-teacher ratio of 10-1 to 18-1. Only one section of English Reading, Writing and Algebra I was offered at each site. The Reading and Algebra I classes were limited to the 10-1 ratio and the Writing classes were 18-1. Highly qualified teachers from across the Commonwealth were recruited to staff the academies.


Sessions were four hours in length. The length of time that a student had to attend the academy was determined by his/her success in passing the accompanying end-of-course assessment. The academy was designed to last three weeks at most.


Each teacher had his/her own classroom and access to a computer lab. The summer program had a site coordinator who took care of attendance and served as the primary contact for participating school divisions and the Department of Education.


The assessment score report for each student was used to provide teachers with preliminary data with which to determine the needs of the students. Even though teachers used other diagnostic tools, it was important to have the official score reports from the previous assessment.


Training on the modules was provided for the summer academy teachers by the module developers. In addition, the Reading instruction incorporated the use of ePAT to give students further practice with test taking strategies on a released SOL assessment.


The Writing instruction included use of NCS Mentor. Students were given their sample writing from the previous assessment and used Mentor to analyze the score and improve on the sample. For Algebra I, the Algebra Readiness Diagnostic Test (ARDT) was used to further diagnose student weakness. The new strand test in ARDT was used to allow students practice with test-taking strategies. Algebra I students also had access to ePAT and benefited from extensive training with the graphing calculator.


Student-pass rates were 68 percent in English: Reading and 91 percent in Algebra I.


Four regional training and materials dissemination sessions will be held during October and November, 2003. This information was communicated to division superintendents in Supts. Memo No. 171. Participants will receive the instructional materials and will be trained to use them effectively. Discussions will include those aspects of the summer academies that worked well and those that did not. Any public school that graduates students may send a team consisting of a principal (or assistant principal), two English teachers (one in reading and one in writing), and a mathematics teacher. Each training session will start at 9 a.m. and end by 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Session locations are:

October 31, 2003 Friday Harrisonburg

November 4, 2003 Wednesday Roanoke

November 13, 2003 Thursday Richmond

November 14, 2003 Friday Newport News


A team registration form is available at the following address: /administrators/superintendents_memos/2003/inf171a.pdf.


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Deborah Kiger Lyman (, mathematics specialist, at (804) 786-6418.