Superintendent's Memo #178-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

July 10, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: NCS Mentor for Virginia Replaced by New Understand Scoring Service

The Virginia Department of Education wishes to announce the retirement of the Web-based NCS Mentor for Virginia constructed response professional development tool. NCS Mentor has been replaced by the new Understand Scoring service of Pearson Perspective.

The new Understand Scoring service provides the same statewide availability of constructed response training to help Virginia's teachers prepare students for the English Standards of Learning end-of-course Writing Assessment.

Building on the success of the Mentor program, Understand Scoring will be familiar to current Mentor users and offers the following:

Participants will be able to score papers in verification sets and view scoring based on Virginia's three-domain scoring rubric. Teachers will gain better understanding of the Virginia Standards of Learning Direct Writing Assessments for grade 5, grade 8, and end-of-course; understand the use of rubrics in scoring student writing; and develop consistency in scoring actual student work.

Teachers may also use this program with students to facilitate their understanding of the expectations in each of the domains.

This program provides an opportunity to study anchor papers that illustrate each score point of each domain and promote understanding of the differences between score points. The new guest user function was designed specifically to allow students to access the system without having to create an account or save information.

To access Perspective for Virginia and the "Understand Scoring" service:

For further information, please contact Tracy Fair Robertson, English coordinator, Office of Middle and High School Instruction, via e-mail at or by phone at 804-371-7585.

PIW / TFR / yba