P. O. BOX 2120

December 3, 1999


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Standards of Learning Assessment (SOL) Administration Audit Information

As it did in the fall of 1998, the Department of Education will again conduct audits
of the Standards of Learning Assessments (SOL) slated for the fall of 1999.  A random 
sample of 10 percent of the schools tested in the fall semester will be audited.  There 
are two purposes for the audit:

   1)   observe actual test administration procedures to confirm whether prescribed 
        standardized procedures are being followed; and,

   2)   gather information on ways to improve procedures to maximize efficiency while
        maintaining standardized procedures and test security.

Harcourt Educational Measurement has trained a cadre of auditors who will conduct the 
audits in Virginia's public schools.  Auditors, many of whom have had experience as 
auditors during recent administrations of both the SOL program and the Virginia State 
Assessment Program (VSAP) Stanford 9, were recruited throughout Virginia.  Each auditor 
has a four-year college degree; preference in hiring auditors was given to retired 
educators.  Graduate education students enrolled in advanced degree programs within 
the state have also been hired as auditors.  Additionally, auditors cannot be employed 
by or have any relationship with personnel which might result in a conflict of interest.  
To qualify to conduct administration audits, each auditor must have completed at least 
one full day of training by the Department of Education and Harcourt Educational 
Measurement on the SOL and on audit procedures.

Attachments to this memo include:

SOL Administration Audit - Sample Letter of Introduction
SOL Administration Audit - Audit Information Sheet
SOL Administration Audit - Observation Checklist
SOL Administration Audit - Post-Test Examiner Survey
SOL Administration Audit - Post-Test School Test Coordinator (STC) Survey
SOL Administration Audit - Post-Test Division Director of Testing (DDOT) Survey
SOL Administration Audit - Evaluation of the Auditor and Audit Process

While the audits themselves will be unannounced, it is not the intent of the Department 
to surprise anyone regarding what is to be observed or asked, so we encourage you to 
share the attached materials with your staff.  It is important that you share information 
about the audits with your staff members and teachers so that they are aware of the 
activity should their schools be audited.  As noted in the attached procedures, your 
division director of testing (DDOT) will be notified by fax the day prior to any audit 
to be conducted in the school division.  The intent of that notification is to let the 
central office staff know that an auditor or auditors will be in the school division.  
However, the notification will not include the name of the school to be audited.

The audit procedures call for the auditor to meet with the school test coordinator 
(STC) in the school to be audited, observe the administration of one of the SOL tests 
in one classroom, and conduct post-observation meetings with the  examiner and the STC.  
The principal of the school is encouraged to participate in these meetings.  The auditor 
will also arrange to meet with the DDOT to discuss the audit that has been conducted.  
In the event that more than one school in the division has been selected for audit, 
a single interview will be conducted with the DDOT after all audits in the division 
have been completed.

Auditors have been informed of the need to observe the protocol for visitors that is 
in effect for each school they visit.  Each auditor will carry a letter of introduction 
on the letterhead of Harcourt Educational Measurement, and will present photo 
identification upon request.  Each auditor will also have a one-page audit information 
sheet to provide to school staff members who might want further detail.  It is our intent 
that the audits be as unobtrusive, efficient, and useful as possible. 

While information from the audit will be discussed in the post-observation meetings 
with the examiner, STC, and DDOT, a more formal report will be provided to the school 
division and to the Department of Education within 30 days of the close of the final 
audit.  Auditors will leave copies of all completed audit protocols with the STC and 
DDOT once the audit is concluded.  An audit evaluation form will also be left with 
each person involved in the audit process in each school.

During audits of previous SOL and VSAP administrations, we have observed many useful 
and innovative practices.  These practices have been shared as a by-product of the 
audits, and we look forward to observing additional innovative practices during the 
upcoming SOL audits.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this activity. Any questions you might 
have concerning the SOL audit procedures can be directed to staff of the Division of 
Assessment and Reporting at (804) 225-2102.

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