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Virginia Assessment Letter

August 31, 2006

The Honorable Billy K. Cannaday
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218

Dear Superintendent Cannaday:

I am writing to follow up on our conversation on May 5, 2006, regarding the peer review of the Virginia standards and assessment system. As we discussed, the Department grants Virginia the flexibility to permit high school students to take the more rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in place of the Virginia high school end-of-course assessments for the purposes of determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2005-06 school year. The Department recognizes that the AP and IB exams are of high quality and are tied to specific college-level course content. The Department also recognizes that Virginia will use these substitute exams only for a small number of students.

Virginia will be granted the flexibility to count a student as proficient when determining AYP if the student scores a two or higher on the AP English Literature and Composition or IB English assessment in place of Virginia's English: Reading Literature assessment or if the student scores of two or higher on the AP Calculus (AB or BC), IB Math Studies, IB Math Methods, or IB Mathematics in place of Virginia's Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II assessments. The Department grants Virginia this flexibility when determining AYP only for the 2005-06 school year. Virginia shall conduct an internal alignment study that shows that the AP and IB exams meet or exceed the Virginia course content standards and whether the proposed proficiency scores are sufficient to ensure the students taking these substitute assessments have met the Virginia high school achievement standards. Please note that this flexibility applies only to those substitute assessments listed above. Approval of the use of all other substitute assessments for the purposes of determining AYP requires evidence of alignment to the State academic content standards and comparability across assessments and must be submitted for the Department's peer review process.

If you would like to discuss this flexibility agreement further, including the requirements that must be met before the Department can consider extending this flexibility, please contact Abigail Potts (Abigail.Potts@ed.gov) or David Harmon (David.Harmon@ed.gov) of my staff. I appreciate Virginia's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. I wish you continued success in your school improvement efforts.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson

cc: Governor Tim Kaine

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Last Modified: 09/26/2006