P. O. BOX 2120

June 2, 2000


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: JoLynne DeMary
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Standards of Learning Technology Initiative

 On March 17, 2000, Virginia school divisions received preliminary notification that 
the General Assembly had forwarded House and Senate budget recommendations that 
established funding for a statewide Web-Based Standards of Learning Technology 
Initiative. This initiative was originally proposed by Governor Gilmore. This memo 
provides further information about the initiative, notifies school divisions of 
participation requirements, and preliminary timelines, and begins the implementation 

The intent of this initiative is to use Web-enabled systems to improve Standards of 
Learning instructional, remedial, and testing capabilities of high schools. Funding 
for this program is targeted to reach three general goals in each high school. These 
goals are: providing student access to computers with a ratio of one computer for 
every five students, creating Internet-ready local area network capability in every 
school, and assuring adequate high speed, high bandwidth capability for 
instructional, remedial, and testing needs.

Specific Initiative Objectives Include: 
 Securing adequate hardware for implementation of SOL instructional, remedial, and 
  testing programs;
 Assuring that every high school in Virginia has high speed, high bandwidth 
  Internet-ready local area network capability to all classrooms and instructional 
 Assuring that all high school students will have access to the Internet at their 
  schools by 2003;
 Using up-to-date instructional and remedial software applications within high 
  schools beginning in 2001;
 Starting the initiative at the high school level to address verified credit SOL 
 Assuring that infrastructure is in place for instructional and remedial purposes 
  by 2002 and the start of statewide testing by 2003; and
 Developing similar capability for middle and elementary schools once high schools 
  have met initiative goals.

Initiative Funding:  
In support of the goals of the initiative, $113,820,000 is included in 
Governor Gilmore's 2000-2002 biennium budget. To participate in this program, 
divisions must complete an "Intent to Participate" statement by August 1, 2000, 
and a "Plan for the Use of the Funds" by November 1, 2000. Divisions that meet 
these requirements will receive $26,000 per school in the first year of the 
biennium and $26,000 per school in the second year. Further, each school 
division will receive an additional $50,000 each year. Funds will come from the 
Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) technology note sales and will be subject 
to the same conditions of use that were in effect for previous technology 
initiatives. Divisions will be required to provide a 20 percent local match, and 
at least 25 percent of that match must be used to train teachers in the use of 

"Intent to Participate" Statement:
As a first step in implementation of the initiative, school divisions will be 
required to submit "Intent to Participate" statements to the Department of Education 
(DOE) by August 1, 2000. The division superintendent must sign this statement. 
Division submission of the "Intent to Participate" statement indicates that the
superintendent supports the goals of the initiative, is willing to commit division 
time, resources and personnel to achieving success of the program, understands the 
obligation to use funds provided to meet the goals and objectives of the initiative, 
and will direct staff to submit project plan status reports according to guidelines 
and timeframes to be established by the DOE. The "Intent to Participate" form is 
attached to this memo.

"Plan for the Use of Funds":
To become eligible for funding, in addition to completing the "Intent to Participate" 
statement, school divisions will be required to submit a "Plan for the Use of Funds."
These plans will be due to the DOE by November 1, 2000. Plans will incorporate formal
project planning and a risk management perspective format that will be complementary
to the DOE's master plan for this initiative. The guidelines, expectations, success 
measures and format of these "Plans for the Use of Funds" will be determined by the 
DOE with the assistance of the Department of Technology Planning (DTP) of the 
Secretary of Technology's office and will be distributed by a superintendent's memo 
prior to July 1, 2000. Minimum requirements for the use of funds plan will include: 

       a commitment to be capable of administering Web-
        enabled Standards of Learning tests in each high   
        school by May 1, 2003; 
       a commitment to appropriate the local match; 
       a commitment to provide the DOE a detailed review of
        any purchased SOL software application to be shared
        with the Best Practice Centers and school   
       a commitment to use E-Rate funds and a projection of
        the extent to which these funds can be used to meet
        the goals of this initiative; 
       submission to the DOE of an analysis of each high
        school's current technological capacity to meet the
        goals of this program based upon criteria developed
        by the DOE; 
       plans to create technological capacity if the
        capacity at each high school is not adequate; and, 
       a commitment to use funds to build capacity, using
        established criteria, first for the middle schools
        and then the elementary schools in a school
        division if the capacity is considered adequate at
        each high school. 

Divisions will also be expected to submit updated "Use of Funds" plans in the spring
of 2001, as further guidance and experience from DOE guidelines, demonstration 
programs, and initial implementation become available.

Initiative Support for Divisions:
In support of division efforts to meet the goals of the initiative, the DOE and the 
Secretary of Technology will provide implementation assistance. The DOE's Technology 
Division and the DTP will provide assistance with technological issues; DOE's 
Assessment and Reporting Division will assist with testing issues; and the 
Instruction and Technology Divisions will help with Standards of Learning 
instructional software concerns. 

Technological Assistance:
Assistance for technological implementation will be provided in three ways. The 
DOE/DTP will distribute guidelines to assist in selecting hardware, local area 
network and wide area network architecture, instructional area equipment 
configuration, Internet connectivity, and network security. Additionally, division 
sites will be established as prototypes to demonstrate Web-based Standards of 
Learning applications. The results of these demonstrations will be distributed to 
all school divisions. Information about site selection will be provided in a future 
memo. Finally, staff from both units will be available to assist with questions 
concerning technological implementation of the initiative.

Assessment Assistance: 
The DOE is in the process of developing a Web-based assessment system. The system 
will address such things as Web-based test design and delivery, test security, 
redundant and back-up systems, manuals and procedures for administration, and test 
data collection, aggregation, and flow. It is the intent of the DOE to design a 
system that allows students to take tests on-line, and for schools to receive test 
information in a timely manner so that promotion, retention, scheduling, and 
graduation decisions can be expedited. Such information must be available for 
different levels of aggregation. Assessment and Reporting Division staff will be 
available to answer questions concerning the testing component of the initiative.

Instructional Assistance: 
Divisions may purchase instructional and remedial materials with technology note 
proceeds at a ratio of $1 for software for every $13 spent on hardware. In addition, 
the local matching portion not dedicated to training may be used to purchase 
software. As a result of funding provided through this initiative, divisions are 
expected to select and purchase instructional and remedial software, use and 
evaluate the software, and provide detailed reviews to the DOE for sharing with the 
Governor's Best Practice Centers and other school divisions. Both the Instruction 
Division and the Technology Division will provide advice and assistance for software 
selection and appropriate use. 

Questions concerning the technological and software portions of this initiative 
should be directed to Lan Neugent, assistant superintendent for technology at 
804-225-2757. Cam Harris, assistant superintendent for assessment and reporting, 
will provide assessment assistance at 804-225-2102.