Superintendent’s Memo #069-13

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

March 15, 2013

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  U.S. Department of Education Approval of Virginia’s Alternate Revised Methodology for Annual Measurable Objectives for Accountability Years 2013-2014 through 2017-2018, Under Provisions of Virginia’s Application for Waivers from Certain Requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has approved Virginia’s alternate revised methodology for annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for accountability years 2013-2014 through 2017- 2018, as approved by the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) at its October 25, 2012, meeting.  An explanation of the final AMO methodology is available in an updated version of Virginia’s approved application for waivers from certain requirements of ESEA, also known as Virginia’s ESEA flexibility application, and in agenda item I of the October 25, 2012, VBOE meeting.

Background on Virginia’s ESEA Flexibility Application

On February 23, 2012, the VBOE approved Virginia’s ESEA flexibility application, which was submitted to USED for review and approval.  On April 17, 2012, USED requested additional information on specific areas of the application.  The state responded with clarifying responses and engaged in ongoing discussion with USED to gain clarity on the federal accountability requirements under the ESEA flexibility provisions.

Regarding Virginia's original AMO methodology as proposed in the February 2012, ESEA flexibility application submission, USED requested that the state establish AMO targets that increase over time and close proficiency gaps.  Virginia agreed to establish AMO targets for all students, proficiency gap groups, and other subgroups that increase over time and reduce the proficiency gap using a modification of the AMO methodology described in Section 1111 of ESEA.

On May 24, 2012, the VBOE approved a revised version of the state’s ESEA flexibility application that included a modification of the AMO methodology.  Virginia’s revised ESEA flexibility application was submitted to USED and approved on June 29, 2012.  At that time, Virginia proceeded with establishing and releasing AMO targets for mathematics and reading.

USED Request for Virginia to Revise AMO Methodology

In an August 29, 2012, letter to Superintendent Wright, USED praised Virginia for implementing new and more rigorous college- and career-ready mathematics assessments and acknowledged that it had approved Virginia’s revised AMO methodology, but at the time, data from the new mathematics assessments were not available.  Once the methodology was applied to the data, USED determined the resulting AMOs were not sufficiently ambitious to close the achievement gap and did not meet the ESEA flexibility requirement that subgroups that are farther behind demonstrate greater academic gains over time.  As a result, the Superintendent of Public Instruction proposed to the VBOE, at its September 27, 2012, meeting an alternate revised methodology for establishing AMOs for mathematics for accountability years 2013-2014 through 2017-2018 that would meet ESEA flexibility requirements.

On October 25, 2012, the VBOE approved the alternate revised AMO methodology for mathematics, which will also be used to establish reading targets for accountability years 2013-2014 through 2017-2018 based on new and more rigorous reading assessments to be administered for the first time in 2012-2013.  The alternate revised AMO methodology was subsequently submitted to USED for final approval.

Final Approved AMO Methodology

On March 5, 2013, Virginia received final USED approval (Attachment A) of the alternate revised AMO methodology adopted by the VBOE at its October 25, 2012, meeting.  Listed below are key features of the methodology:

Year 1 AMO Targets: 

Year 2-6 AMO Targets: 

Safe Harbor Provisions:  

Agenda item I from the October 25, 2012, VBOE meeting provides additional details about the final AMO methodology.  The Virginia Department of Education will provide additional information and technical assistance related to the final AMO methodology and targets through future communications such as Superintendent’s Memoranda, Superintendent’s E-mail, press release, and training sessions for school division personnel.

Questions about Virginia’s ESEA flexibility application or the state’s final approved AMO methodology may be submitted to



  1. March 5, 2013, USED Approval Letter (PDF)