Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The VSBA Executive Committee in its meeting yesterday approved a motion to support a “Request for Waiver of Certain Accrediting Standards and/or Approval of an Innovative or Experimental Program” that was submitted to the Virginia Board of Education by five school divisions in Virginia (Albemarle County, Fairfax County, Henrico County, Roanoke County and Virginia Beach City).  

In general, the goal of the waiver request is to allow the school divisions to implement a pilot program that will provide middle school students with multiple opportunities to pass Virginia’s SOL tests within the existing end-of-course test administration windows.  For the 2011/2012 school year, the waiver request applies to Grade 8 Reading, Mathematics, and Plain English Mathematics.  Specifically, the waiver will allow SOL tests to be administered in pilot middle schools during the January Non-Writing test administration window to students who have demonstrated that they are well ahead in their learning although they will not complete classes until the spring.  Students who pass the January SOL test will then participate in project-based learning units for the balance of the school year designed to increase the depth of their knowledge in the content area.  Students who do not take the SOL test in January, or who do not pass the January SOL test, will receive additional instruction, and, where necessary, intensive, focused remediation prior to retesting and retakes which will occur during the regular spring Non-Writing test administration windows in May and June.

The waiver request will also allow for the inclusion of passing scores from all administrations of SOL tests and retests, with passing scores overriding previous failing scores in the same school year, for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Accreditation calculations.

VSBA President Jeff Bain requested that this information be shared ASAP as the issue will be on the upcoming July 28, 2011 Virginia Board of Education agenda. As he stated during consideration of this item, “I saw applicability in VSBA supporting the waiver request because of this sentence in the waiver request, ‘As Virginia moves toward linking teacher data to student data, additional testing windows to support mastery learning for middle school students appear to be the next logical step’”.

To date the Board of Education agenda has not been published but those interested in supporting/following this item may find more information on the Virginia Board of Education website http://www.doe.virginia.gov/.