P. O. BOX 2120
October 3, 1997


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress

  For more than 25 years, the National Assessment of Educational
  Progress (NAEP) has served American educators as an information
  resource, providing reliable profiles of what our students know
  and can do in key subject areas. The Nation's Report Card, as
  NAEP has come to be known, is the only ongoing project to
  monitor trends in our students' achievement at the elementary,
  middle, and high-school levels. In large part, NAEP owes its
  success to the support from local educators whose schools are
  randomly chosen to participate.

  In 1998, NAEP will conduct separate national and state
  assessments. Virginia's Standards of Quality provide for
  participation in both the National and State NAEP Assessments.
  The National Assessment will involve a nationally representative
  sample of roughly 150,000 students from approximately 2,300
  schools across the country in the subjects of reading, writing,
  and civics. 

  The NAEP State Assessment includes tests in reading and writing
  at the eighth grade and reading at the fourth grade.  The NAEP
  State Assessment will be administered during February.  The NAEP
  State Assessment is designed to help states evaluate the
  performance of their students in light of results from other
  states and the nation at-large.

  A small number of schools in most Virginia school divisions have
  been selected by NAEP staff for the National and/or State
  components of the 1998 NAEP assessment. A listing of the schools
  selected in your division is enclosed, with a suggested date for
  conducting the NAEP State Assessment.  We are able to negotiate
  an alternative date for those of you who have conflicts on the
  suggested date.  A summary of tasks relating to the State NAEP
  Assessment is enclosed. 

  The National and State NAEP Assessments have several
  similarities.  Both assessments:

    are based on representative samples of the student

    are paper-and-pencil tests designed to last about 90 minutes;

    protect the anonymity of the participating students; and

    provide results for males and females and other variables
    related to educational context but are not designed to
    produce individual, school, or school division data.

  The National and State NAEP Assessments also differ in two major

    National Assessments are administered by the NAEP staff,
    whereas the administration of State Assessments are to be
    conducted by local or district staff;

    The State Assessment will cover only reading and writing,
    while the National assessment will cover reading, writing,
    and civics.

  In the next few days, your Division Director of Testing will
  receive additional information and materials concerning the 1998
  NAEP State Assessment.  A NAEP project staff member will contact
  you separately to arrange for the administration of the National

  If you or your colleagues have questions about the NAEP
  Assessments, please phone Kevin Hughes in the Department's
  Division of Assessment and Reporting.  He may be reached at

  You and your colleagues at the local level play the lead role in
  carrying out programs to improve student performance. The NAEP
  assessments are an important measure of your success. I want to
  thank you in advance for your efforts to ensure its success. 


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