P. O. BOX 2120
June 6, 1997


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Graphing Calculators and Scientific Probes

  Section 22.1-199.1, Code of Virginia (Programs designed to
  promote educational opportunities), specifies that the
  Departments of Education, Information Technology, and
  General Services shall coordinate master contracts for the
  purchase of educational technologies by local school boards. 
  These technologies include graphing calculators and
  scientific probes/sensors required by the Standards of

  The enclosed briefing paper provides a description of the
  Graphing Calculator and Scientific Probe Initiative and a
  proposal for purchase.  Enclosed also is a form the
  Department of Education has prepared for your response.  The
  due date for your response to the Department of Education is
  June 15, 1997.

  Initiative questions should be directed to Dr. Ida J. Hill,
  Assistant Superintendent for Technology at (804) 225-2757 or
  Mr. Dan Timberlake, Assistant Superintendent for Finance at
  (804) 225-2025.


  Enclosures:  A hard copy of this memo and its enclosures
               will be sent to the superintendent's office
                   MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS

                          May, 1997


     The Board of Education has identified four focus areas
  for Virginia schools.  The first focus area is the adoption
  of Standards of Learning for the core curriculum subjects of
  mathematics, science, English, and history and social
  science. The Standards are rigorous and require use of
  technology.  The three other focus areas (assessment,
  accountability, and a school report card) are at varying
  stages of implementation.  

     The use of graphing calculators is a required component
  of the state mathematics standards.  Mathematics assessment
  items are being developed that will afford students the
  opportunity to use graphing calculators.

     Governor Allen proposed, and the General Assembly
  approved, using approximately $20 million for graphing
  calculators and scientific probes for Virginia schools. 
  Purchases are to be made in fiscal year 1998.  No local
  match is required for participation in this initiative.


     The Standards of Learning for mathematics require all
  students to meet the Algebra I standards.  Most students
  will be expected to achieve the Algebra I standards by the
  end of grade 9.  Tenth graders typically will enroll in
  geometry and Algebra II.  The standards for these courses
  require students to use scientific probe kits with the
  graphing calculators.  Use of graphing calculators and
  graphing software is required not only in Algebra I,
  Geometry, and Algebra II, but also in mathematical analysis
  and calculus courses.

     These calculators and graphing softwares are also
  utilized in science instruction.  Earth science and biology
  are typically taught at the 8th and 9th grade levels, and
  instruction in these subjects can be enhanced with the use
  of graphing calculators and scientific probes.

     Therefore, the plan is to fund the technology tools for
  students to use in mathematics and science.  The recommended
  student-to-probe ratio is four-to-one and the student-to-calculator
  ratio is one-to-one.DISTRIBUTION PLAN

     The percentages of enrollment for students to receive
  scientific probe kits and graphing calculators are 100 for
  each of the 9th and 10th grades, and 54 for the 8th grade. 
  There are 88,721 students enrolled in grade 9 and there are
  77,806 students enrolled in grade 10.  Student enrollment in
  grade 8 is 80,842.  Procurement for total enrollment in
  grade 9 would require 88,721 calculators and 22,180 probe
  kits.  Procurement for grade 10 would require 77,806
  calculators and 19,452 probe kits.  Fifty-four percent
  procurement for grade 8 would require 43,655 calculators and
  10,914 probe kits.  

     The number of probe kits and calculators to be procured
  will be based upon a 1:4 probe kit-to-calculator ratio.  The
  lower percent of enrollment for grade 8 is to accommodate
  the less than 100 percent of students enrolled in algebra in
  grade 8.  Surveys and the Outcome Accountability Project
  report indicate that approximately 30 percent of students
  take Algebra I by the end of grade 8.  Of the 47 percent of
  students qualifying for advanced placement diplomas at least
  47 percent take Algebra II.   Graphing calculators and
  scientific probe kits in schools purchased through local
  funds can be shifted for 11th and 12th grade student use to
  meet advanced diploma requirements.


     The Department of Education is trying to determine the
  best option for the procurement of graphing calculators and
  scientific probes.  Since this technology is provided
  through one hundred percent state funding, our decision will
  be guided by input from school divisions.

     Three obvious options are available to schools. The
  first option is to authorize DOE to negotiate the purchase
  of all graphing calculators and scientific probes in
  cooperation with agencies and bidders.  To the extent
  possible, the purchases would be based upon school division
  preference.  The DOE would negotiate shipping arrangements
  to divisions.  A state purchase would ensure lower per unit
  cost which would ultimately permit more units to be
  purchased and reduce local resource requirements. 

     A second option is a state contract (state bid list)
  authorized by school boards and divisions.  Since language
  in the state appropriation act earmarks use of the funds to
  purchase graphing calculators and scientific probe kits,
  cost efficiency is a factor to be considered. A state
  contract would result in lower per unit costs which would
  ultimately permit more units to be purchased.  Additionally,
  the possibility exists that purchases may be extended beyond
  the 1998 fiscal year at the same per unit cost.  A division
  electing to receive its grant for local procurement will
  receive its share of the funds based upon the per unit cost
  under state procurement and will be required to provide
  purchase certification to the department.     The third option
  is to develop a distribution funding
  formula to send grants directly to school divisions.  While
  this option affords autonomy at the local level, it does not
  consider the advantage of bulk purchasing which would result
  in lower per unit cost and additional tools for schools. 
  School divisions choosing this option will be required to
  certify to the department that the funds were used to
  purchase graphing caluclators and probes for science.


     The Department of Education (DOE) will work with the
  Division of General Services (DGS) and the Department of
  Information Technology (DIT) to implement a state
  procurement.  DGS process and DOE approval to purchase by
  school divisions may temporarily delay delivery of the units
    until early in FY 98.

                 Participation Response Form
                         May 30, 1997

  Superintendents Memorandum #           
  Dated:  May 30, 1997

  Response Form Due Date: June 16, 1997

  Options for State Contract/Bid List:

     My division is aware of the three options and an
  anticipated process for acquiring the graphing calculators
  and scientific probes to support the Standards of Learning.
  Our preference is as follows: (check one)

                              My division prefers to have
                              the DOE purchase and
                              distribute the calculators and

                              My division prefers to
                              authorize the Department of
                              Education to proceed with a
                              state contract/bid list

                              My division prefers to receive
                              direct funding for a local

  Return this form to Dr. Ida J. Hill, Assistant
  Superintendent, Virginia Department of Education, P. O. Box
  2120, Richmond, VA 23218 or FAX to (804) 786-5389.

     Authorized Signature:                                   
                              Superintendent or Board Chair