P.O. BOX 2120




July 29, 2005




Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Participation in Field 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, the Division of Assessment and Reporting will conduct a field test of high school writing prompts during the period of February 6-10, 2006. Field testing of potential writing prompts is very important in identifying appropriate prompts for Virginia students on the Standards of Learning English: Writing test. Based on feedback from school divisions last spring, this field test has been rescheduled during February so that schools may choose to use it as practice in preparation for the spring EOC English: Writing test.


To evaluate approximately 30 writing prompts, a sample of 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 field test will be offered only in the paper/pencil version.


The Virginia Department of Education is inviting students in your division to participate in the field testing. 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, school divisions electing to participate may be allocated a maximum number of students who can be tested.

         Division directors of testing or their designees have the discretion of selecting the day(s) from February 6-10, 2006, to administer the EOC English: Writing field test. There will be no make-up testing for this field 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 (without a thesaurus) 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 Field Testing of Writing Prompts for the Standards of Learning EOC English: Writing Assessment Internet Survey. On September 2, 2005, 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, and the number of students per school. Responses to the survey are due by September 30, 2005.


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