Superintendent's Memo #224-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

September 17, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Senate Joint Resolution 31 Reading Proficiency Study

Senate Joint Resolution 31 (SJ31), patroned by Senator John C. Miller, was passed by the 2010 General Assembly. SJ31 directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study ways to promote and ensure early reading proficiency and comprehension among third graders in the public schools. In conducting its study, JLARC shall:

  1. Determine the number of third graders who read at grade level.
  2. Rank the school divisions according to the number of third graders who passed the most recent third grade reading test.
  3. Identify best practices utilized by school divisions with the highest percentage of third graders who read at grade level.
  4. Examine the findings and recommendations of state and national studies pertaining to the efficacy of early reading proficiency and comprehension and its relationship to academic success, and suggest those recommendations appropriate for implementation in Virginia.
  5. Determine strategies to increase the number of third graders who pass the third grade reading test and ways to improve and sustain the early reading proficiency of third-grade students.

In late August, JLARC staff met with staff at the Department to discuss this study and the steps needed to gather the data necessary for JLARC to prepare findings and recommendations. The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of this study and the fact that JLARC will be gathering information from both the Department and from school divisions as it performs the research necessary to complete this study prior to the 2012 General Assembly session. Should JLARC contact your division, I would ask that you respond to any requests for information.

JLARC staff also indicated that they will likely wish to visit a subset of school divisions to conduct interviews and observe a few classrooms as they did for the JLARC study of the Virginia Preschool Initiative. I ask that you please cooperate with JLARC staff as they conduct this study, and provide access, assistance, and requested information.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact the Office of Policy at (804) 225-2092, or by e-mail at