P. O. BOX 2120

March 3, 2000


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: JoLynne DeMary
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Standards of Learning (SOL) Assessment Administration Audit Information

 As it did in the spring of 1999, the Department of Education will again conduct 
audits of the SOL Writing Assessments slated for the spring of 2000.  A random 
sample of 10 percent of the schools in which the writing test will be administered 
will be audited.  The two purposes for the audit are as follows:

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 schools. Auditors, many of whom have had experience as 
auditors during past administrations of both the SOL and the Virginia State 
Assessment Program (VSAP) have been recruited from 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 has 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 Protocol
SOL Administration Audit - Post-Test School Test Coordinator (STC) Protocol
SOL Administration Audit - Post-Test DDOT Protocol
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 of Education 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 the essence of the audits with your staff members and 
teachers so that they are aware of the activity should their school 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 present in the school division. However, the 
notification will not include the name of the school or schools 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 observed 
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 brief 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 in the state.  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.  Sharing of those practices has been a by-product of the 
audits, and we look forward to observing such practices during the upcoming SOL 

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