P. O. BOX 2120
January 22, 1999


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Superintendent's Study Group
  The Superintendent's Study Group meets regularly.  It is
  composed of the chairmen of the eight regional study
  groups, plus the VASS officers.  We will distribute the
  minutes of each meeting by means of a Superintendent's

  The minutes of the meeting of January 8, 1999, are
  attached.  If you have questions regarding this
  information, please contact Richard Layman at (804) 225-2024.

  Thank you.


  Attachment:  A hard copy of this memo and its attach-
               ment will be sent to the superintendent's

            Meeting of the Public Education Superintendent's 
                           Advisory Council
                        Friday, January 8, 1999

  Present:     Superintendents' Group: Mark A. Edwards, Howard
                 E. Wainwright, Russell L. Watson, Philip L.
                 Worrell, Dennis W. Kellison, Steven R. Staples,
                 Walter McFarlane, superintendent of the
                 Department of Correctional Education,  and
                 Alfred R. Butler, IV, executive director, and
                 Andy Stamp, assistant executive director, VASS.

          Department of Education: Paul D. Stapleton,
            Kirk T. Schroder, Richard W. Layman, M. Kenneth
            Magill, Ms. M. Jo Bunce, Ms. Cameron Harris,
            Ms. Diane Atkinson, Ms. Bethann Canada, ViJay
            Ramnarain, Richard Schley, and Harry L. Smith.

     The Superintendent of Public Instruction opened the
  meeting and distributed copies of a press release on the
  results of the first administration of the Standards of
  Learning tests.  The press release reported that only 39
  (2.2 percent) of more than 1,800 public schools in
  Virginia met accreditation standards in all four SOL
  subjects--English, mathematics, science, and history and
  social science.

     Mr. Stapleton said he believes the public schools
  can build on the results of the first tests and that
  substantial improvement will occur in the years ahead. 
  Mr. Schroder, president of the Board of Education, said
  the results of the tests in some schools, whose
  demographics and fiscal resources would have predicted
  low performance, "did well," indicating that all students
  can "achieve the goal set by the state."

     Mr. Schroder also reported the problems with the
  timing of end-of-course tests will be resolved before the
  next administration of the SOL tests.  He said the Board
  of Education is looking at a "three-to-five-week window"
  in which the tests would be given before the end of the
  current school year.  He added that this would be "a
  dramatic improvement" and stated that he does not believe
  "we can do better than that" to solve the problem which
  he called the "number one priority" for the board.

     Dr. Butler, speaking for VASS, expressed
  appreciation for the effort to deal with the problem and
  congratulated the president of the board and the state
  superintendent for working with school divisions on
  issues related to the SOL tests.

     Mr. Schroder also reported that if a public school
  is warned that its accreditation is in jeopardy and the
  school shows continuing improvement it will be designated
  as a provisionally accredited school.  This, he said, is
  the Board of Education's interpretation of a provision of
  the new school accreditation standards.

     Ms. Canada, director of the Management Information
  Systems, gave a brief visual presentation of the results
  of the SOL tests that are available on the World Wide

     Ms. Harris, assistant superintendent for assessment
  and reporting, responded to questions about the SOL
  testing program.  She told the superintendents that the
  department is working on ways to deal with SOL curriculum
  problems.  She said a document may be necessary to
  clarify content and knowledge needed for history and
  perhaps other subjects.

     Mr. Stapleton emphasized the importance of improving
  instruction for all children in public schools, and he
  suggested that the Governor's Best Practice Centers may
  help in achieving that objective.  He said he has
  recommended using a corps of retired teachers and
  administrators to assist public schools throughout the
  state.  He expressed hope that the Governor will provide
  funds to support this project.

     Mr. Stapleton said the department is looking at
  incentive efforts that might be adopted to help school
  divisions meet accreditation standards.  He said the two
  main issues are focused on disparity among school
  divisions and teachers' performance.

     Dr. Edwards suggested that the superintendents read
  an article by William L. Saunders in the December issue
  of the School Administrators' magazine that deals with a
  10-year study of the effectiveness of classroom teachers.

     Charles Finley, director of accreditation, reported
  on the status of the school accreditation program.  He
  said the Department of Education is trying to find one
  school improvement plan that all divisions can use, and
  is looking at problems caused by mobility of students. 
  Dr. Edwards stated that Henrico County has an annual
  school improvement plan which he offered to share with
  other superintendents.

     Dr. Butler suggested that there should be greater
  cooperation between the Southern Association of Colleges
  and Schools and the Department of Education in working
  with school improvement plans.  Mr. Layman, deputy
  superintendent for external operations, said the
  Assessment Committee of superintendents will be asked to
  consider this and other issues when it meets on dates to
  be selected.

     Several superintendents said the Department of
  Education needs to examine special education problems
  related to the SOL tests.  The state superintendent said
  the department is trying to deal with that issue.

     ViJay Ramnarain, architectural consultant in the
  Department of Education, distributed copies of a school
  safety audit requested by the General Assembly.  The
  superintendents were told that legislation in the 1999
  General Assembly would require written school safety
  audits to be kept in the central office of each school
  division.  Mr. Ramnarain said meetings are scheduled to
  obtain as much input as possible on the safety audits.

     Mr. Layman reported that another issue involves
  summer school remediation programs.  The superintendents
  were reminded of differences in the length of programs
  and the hours in which they are conducted.  He said this
  also is an issue that the superintendents should look at
  and he indicated he will ask for their assistance.

     Mr. Layman also noted that the Board of Education is
  interested in recognizing outstanding students and
  teachers in the state and would like to develop a list of
  individuals to be honored.  He asked the superintendents
  to contact their counterparts in the regional study
  groups and ask that the names of students and teachers be

     Ms. Atkinson, assistant superintendent for policy
  and planning, distributed a list of bills already
  introduced for action by the 1999 General Assembly.  She
  said the Department of Education will provide a tracking
  report on legislation each Friday on the website during
  the current session of the legislature.