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Virginia Assessment Letter

March 22, 2006

Honorable Patricia I. Wright
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218

Dear Superintendent Wright:

Thank you for submitting Virginia's assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support Virginia's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Virginia's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Virginia must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.

I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how the system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan (including a detailed timeline) for how Virginia will meet any remaining requirements for which evidence is not currently available. After reviewing those materials, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Virginia's standards and assessment system.

Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Virginia's assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State's submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful. Based on this first review, Virginia should anticipate the need to submit materials for a second peer review.

We look forward to working with Virginia to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call David J. Harmon (202-205-3554) or Abigail Potts (202-260-2465) of my staff.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson

Enclosure

cc: Shelley Loving-Ryder


Summary of Additional Evidence that Virginia Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Virginia Assessment System

1.0 - ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS

Virginia meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. The Virginia Board of Education adopted challenging academic content standards in grades K-8 and high school courses in the subject areas of reading, mathematics, and science called Standards of Learning (SOL). The Standards of Learning adopted in mathematics and English (reading/language arts) meet the requirements of Title I, Part A of the ESEA.

2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS

  1. Approved academic achievement standards for SOL, VSEP, and VGLA reading and math assessments at grades 3-8.
  2. Approved academic achievement standards for the Algebra II and English Reading end-of-course tests.
  3. Approved academic achievement standards for the SELP test when used as a substitute for the SOL reading tests in grades 3-8 for those limited English proficient students who have been attending U.S. schools for more than one year.
  4. Approved alternate academic achievement standards for VAAP.

3.0 - FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM

  1. Comparability of the SELP with the SOL reading tests.
  2. Comparability of the Plain English Mathematics test and regular test forms.
  3. Comparability of the "substitute" tests and the matched end-of-course tests.
  4. Comparability of the VGLA and VSEP with the SOL tests.

4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY

  1. Reliability and validity for the VSEP and the reading and math SOL tests at grades 4, 6, and 7.
  2. Reliability and validity for both alternate assessments -- VAAP and VGLA.
  3. Validity of the SELP test when used as a substitute for the SOL reading tests.
  4. Comparability of online and paper-and-pencil SOL administrations at the middle school level for all students and subgroups.
  5. For SOL reading and math assessments at grades 3-8, documentation of the standard setting process with descriptions of the selection of judges, methodology employed, and final results.
  6. For the Algebra II and the English Reading end-of-course tests, documentation of the standard setting process with descriptions of the selection of judges, methodology employed, and final results.
  7. For the SELP test when used as a substitute for the SOL reading tests in grades 3-8, documentation of the standard setting process with descriptions of the selection of judges, methodology employed, and final results.
  8. For VAAP and VGLA, documentation of the standard setting process with descriptions of the selection of judges, methodology employed, and final results.
  9. Reliability for the Plain English Mathematics Test.

5.0 - ALIGNMENT

  1. Alignment of 3-8 and high school assessments in reading and mathematics with academic content standards and with newly established grades 4, 6, 7 academic achievement standards and revised grades 3, 5, and 8 academic achievement standards.
  2. Alignment of the VSEP, VGLA, and the SELP test to the State's academic content standards and to academic achievement standards.
  3. Alignment of high school "substitute" assessments with academic content standards.

6.0 - INCLUSION

  1. Evidence that explains the discrepancy between the expectation of full LEP test participation as expressed in the Limited English Proficient Students: Guidelines for Participation in the Standards of Learning Assessments and Virginia code (8 VAC 20-131-30) that allows a one time SOL test exemption.
  2. Evidence that only valid scores count toward AYP proficiency and participation rate (i.e., not including scores from tests administered using nonstandard accommodations).

7.0 - REPORTING

  1. Performance level descriptions on student/parent assessment reports.
  2. SELP test reports when used as a proxy for the SOL reading tests in grades 3-8.
  3. Individual student reports for the VSEP.

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Last Modified: 04/07/2006