Commission on Educational Accountability
June 18, 2001, Richmond
Although not specifically assigning additional issues to the commission or its task forces for consideration, SJR 385 (2001) notes that "another year of study will enable the Commission to pursue more fully its mission and to address more effectively the myriad of educational accountability issues assigned to it...."
The commission has, however, been requested by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health to "include the concepts presented in HB 2823 in its 2001 study plan and make any recommendations or findings on this matter as it may deem appropriate." The measure would have created the Educators' Higher Education Opportunity Program, comprised of the voluntary contributions of educators employed on a full-time basis as licensed instructional or administrative personnel in good standing by a public school board in Virginia, to fund savings trust accounts pursuant to the Virginia College Savings Plan. The Board of Education must make an annual contribution to the fund on behalf of eligible educators who have completed five years of full-time employment in a seven-year period. Savings trust account funds cannot be disbursed prior to an eligible educator or designee being admitted and enrolled at an eligible institution. The board, in consultation with the board of the Virginia College Savings Plan, shall establish regulations addressing (i) minimum amounts of educator contributions to the fund; (ii) amounts of annual board contributions to accounts in which the educator's interest has vested; (iii) changes in employing school boards; iv) the voluntary participation of local school boards in making contributions to the fund on behalf of employees; and (v) such other matters as it deems necessary for the implementation of the program.
Also continued by the resolution is the work of the commission's three task forces: the HJR 566 (1999) Task Force on the Educational Needs of the 21st Century; the HJR 723 (1999) Task Force on the Impact of the Standards of Accreditation on Local School Division Budgets; and the HJR 302 (2000) Task Force to Examine the Need for Appropriate Alternative Forms of Standards of Learning Assessments for Students Receiving Special Education and Related Services.
Multiple Criteria and Remediation Legislation
Reviewing recent legislative actions addressing multiple criteria for school accreditation, graduation, and promotion and retention and remediation, the commission examined actions of the 2000 and 2001 Sessions. Having considered and ultimately carried over a number of measures from the 2000 Session addressing the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments and "multiple criteria" for school accreditation and diploma purposes, the House Committee on Education agreed in 2000 that a special subcommittee be appointed to examine the issues raised and to develop a single measure for consideration by the 2001 Session.
This special subcommittee primarily addressed multiple criteria for school accreditation purposes; HB 2163 was the recommended measure produced by the group. Additional measures introduced in the 2001 Session addressed the use of SOL assessments within diploma requirements, the inclusion of SOL test scores of certain students for school accreditation purposes, retaking of SOL assessments, and other issues. Although only two of the reviewed measures (HB 2144/SB 1324 and HJR 608) were enacted, review of the remaining measures was designed to identify ongoing issues and concerns.
Measures relating to the use of SOL tests generally included HB 2144/SB 1324, which was enacted, providing that the boards of visitors or other governing body of Virginia's public institutions of higher education cannot consider the accreditation status of a Virginia public high school in making admissions determinations for students who have earned a diploma in accordance with the regulations of the board.
Commission members expressed the desire to continue exploration of the multiple criteria issue as well as remediation concerns. Discussion focused on the roles of the commission and the Board of Education's Advisory Committee on Accountability, as some of the multiple criteria measures had been referred to the Board of Education for consideration by the Senate Committee on Education and Health. Also cited was the need to address vocational education students within the SOL assessment structure, the effects of the SOL assessments on those students who have not had the revised SOL curriculum throughout their public education, the alignment of curriculum with SOL assessments, adequacy of instructional materials, disaggregation of student scores, and teacher training.
Department of Education representatives provided an update on SOA revisions and the implementation of Standards of Learning. Noted were the inclusion of diversity within the history Standards of Learning; ongoing review of the teacher resource guide amplifying the history SOL curriculum; and the approval of 81 substitute tests for SOL assessments and the use of 72 various career and technical examinations and licenses for obtaining verified units of credit. The Department of Education is currently receiving school improvement plans for schools accredited with warning and expects to receive additional plans by October.
Following review and approval of a draft work plan, the commission scheduled its next meeting for August 7 and discussed the possibility of examining board regulations addressing remediation, the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute (CEPI)(VCU) survey regarding the SOL tests, studies regarding the efficacy of year-round schools and intervention/remediation, board action regarding the referred multiple criteria bills, and the VCU Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC) study of the effectiveness of remedial summer school.