P.O. BOX 2120



November 12, 2004



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Participation in Pilot Testing of Writing Prompts for Standards of Learning End-of-Course English: Writing Assessment



As part of the continuing development of the Standards of Learning End-of-Course (EOC) English: Writing Assessment, Harcourt Assessment, Inc. will be conducting a pilot test of high school writing prompts during the period of April 4-8, 2005. Pilot testing of potential writing prompts is very important in identifying appropriate prompts for Virginia students on the Standards of Learning English: Writing test.


A sample of approximately 25,000 eleventh-grade students from across Virginia is needed to participate in this pilot testing. Each student will be asked to write a paper in response to a prompt. The administration of the writing prompt typically requires one or two class periods. As is typical with other writing tests, this pilot test will be offered only in the paper/pencil version.


The Virginia Department of Education is seeking classrooms in your division to participate in the pilot testing. All divisions are invited to participate. From the list of volunteers, a sample will be selected that is representative of the state in terms of demographic factors such as geography, race/ethnicity, and school and division sizes. Please note the following:


         To meet the requirements of the state sampling plan, divisions electing to participate may be allocated a maximum number of classrooms and students who can be tested.

         Division directors of testing or their designee have the discretion of selecting the day(s) from April 4-8, 2005, to administer the pilot test. There will be no make-up testing for this pilot test administration.

         Manuals for division directors of testing, school test coordinators, and examiners will be provided.

         For this test, students are allowed to use dictionaries for spelling and scratch paper for planning. The school will supply dictionaries and scratch paper.

         As with all other Standards of Learning assessments, students may take as much time as they need to complete this test. Students must complete their responses to the prompt by the end of the school day.

         Student scores will not be provided, and no school reports will be produced.

School divisions interested in participating must complete a Request to Participate in Pilot Testing of Writing Prompts for the Standards of Learning EOC English: Writing Assessment Internet Survey. On December 15, 2004, each division director of testing will receive an e-mail containing an Internet address that will provide access to the survey. Each division will be asked if it wishes to participate, and those that respond yes will be asked to provide preliminary information for specific schools such as testing dates, the number of classrooms and number of students per classroom. Responses to the survey are due by January 14, 2005.


Any questions regarding the Internet survey or the writing prompt pilot testing should be directed to the Division of Assessment and Reporting at (804) 225-2102 or