P. O. BOX 2120
May 3, 1996


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: William C. Bosher, Jr.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Board of Education Resolution on Assessment

  On April 25, 1996 the Board of Education adopted a
  resolution concerning Virginia's new assessment system which
  will have two components:  1) assessments based on the
  revised Standards of Learning (SOLs) and 2) nationally
  norm-referenced assessments.  The SOL-based component is
  scheduled for field-testing in the Spring, 1997.  The
  nationally norm-referenced component will be first
  administered in the Spring, 1997.
  Highlights of the attached resolution, which represents
  modifications and/or confirmation of the Board's tentative
  decisions at its March, 1996 meeting, are provided below. 
  SOL-Based Assessments
  The Department of Education (DOE) will issue a Request for
  Proposals (RFP) to develop, administer, score, and report
  results of statewide standardized assessments.  
  -  The purpose of these assessments will be to measure
     students' achievement in acquiring and applying the
     knowledge and academic skills defined in the English,
     Mathematics, Science, History, and Technology SOLs, and
     to measure students' skills in analyzing, reasoning,
     synthesizing information, making comparisons, and
     drawing inferences. 
  -  Grade levels:  3, 5, 8, 11.  The grade 3 SOL-based
     assessments will include K-3 SOLs in all four
     disciplines, with particular emphasis on reading skills
     and reading comprehension.  The grade 5 SOL assessments
     will include grade 4 and 5 SOLs in English,
     Mathematics, Science, and Technology, as well as
     History SOLs through  Virginia Studies."  The grade 8
     SOL assessments will include grade 6, 7, and 8 SOLs in
     English, Mathematics, Science, andSUPTS. MEMO. NO.  86
Page 2
May 3, 1996
     Technology, as well as the History SOLs covering 8th-grade U.S. 
     History and Civics & Economics.  At the 11th
     grade, the SOL assessments will 1) report scores within
     disciplines (e.g., Biology within Science) and 2)
     include the following content: 
     -    Mathematics -- Algebra I and Geometry
     -    Science -- Earth Science and Biology
     -    History -- World History and World Geography
     -    English -- Grade 9, 10, and 11 SOLs 
  -  Test Format:  Primarily machine-scoreable items which
     provide broad coverage of content as well as reliable
     and valid results.  A writing sample may be included. 
     Different forms of the test will be developed so that a
     different test may be used for each test
  -  Scores:  To be reported at student, school, school
     division, and state levels (except during the 1997
     field test).
  Nationally Norm-Referenced Test (NRT)
  The Department of Education will issue a RFP to adopt,
  administer, score, and report results of nationally norm-referenced 
  standardized tests.
  -  The purpose of these tests will be to provide
     nationally norm-referenced information on the
     achievement of students, schools, school divisions and
     the state.  At a minimum, test content will consist of
     English (to include reading) and Mathematics.  History
     and Science may be included.  
  -  Grade levels to be tested:  3, 5, 8, 11.
  -  Test Format:  Nationally normed, standardized, and
  -  Scores will be reported at the student, school, school
     division, and state levels beginning with the first
     administration of the new test adoption in the Spring,
  Please direct any questions you may have about this
  information to Doris Redfield, Division Chief for Assessment
  and Reporting, or Cam Harris (Assessment and Reporting
  Director) at 804-225-2102. 
  Attachment:  Board of Education Resolution (4/25/96)
  This memo and its attachment will be sent to the
  superintendent's office.