P. O. BOX 2120
January 23, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Potential Changes to the Stanford 9 Test Administration

  At the January 8, 1998 Board of Education meeting, the
  Department of Education was directed to study the
  feasibility, costs, legal, and contractual aspects of moving
  the administration of the Stanford 9 Achievement Test from
  the spring to fall and to grades other than 3, 5, 8 and 11. 
  The request is in response to concerns expressed by
  educators in the field regarding the amount of testing
  students participate in during the spring of the school
  year.  The purpose of the enclosed questionnaire is to
  provide you with an opportunity to express your views on
  this issue.

  Assessment plays a critical role in the instructional
  program by providing information to direct student
  remediation, guide instructional planning, and inform
  program evaluation.  Norm-referenced testing provides a
  valuable source of information about how an individual
  student, a group of students, a school and a school division
  or state is performing compared to a national sample of
  students.  The Stanford 9 Achievement Test provides such
  information in Virginia.

  The new Standards of Learning (SOL) tests provide a
  different type of information.  The SOL tests are specific
  to Virginia's learning standards and provide information
  directly related to the instruction taking place in the
  classrooms of the Commonwealth.  At issue is how to balance
  the administration of these two assessments. 

  Virginia currently tests students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 11
  with the Stanford 9 Achievement Test between April 1 and
  April 30.  SOL testing is scheduled for the same general
  time period for grades 3, 5, 8, and selected high school
  credit courses.  The Stanford test edition adopted by the
  state allows for using existing test booklets and answer
  materials with fall norms for a fall administration at
  grades 4, 6, and 9.  Further, the Stanford test edition
  currently administered in the spring to grade 11 students
  may also be administered to grade 11 or grade 12 students in
  the fall.  The shift would be at relatively little cost as
  compared to moving the test administration to a grade level
  that would require the purchase of new test booklets and
  other materials.  

  The Board has asked that the Department provide information
  from a variety of audiences about concerns related to
  assessment such as test administration dates, grade levels
  tested, the possibility of  testing only a sample of
  students rather than entire grade levels and the testing of
  home-instructed students.  To assist in this effort, please
  complete the enclosed questionnaire and return it to the
  Department of Education, Division of Assessment and
  Reporting, no later than Wednesday, February 4, 1998. 
  Responses may be mailed to the Division of Assessment and
  Reporting or faxed to Cameron Harris at (804) 371-8978.


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