Superintendent’s Memo #332-12

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

December 14, 2012

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Resources for Implementation of the 2010 English Standards of Learning

The following is an annotated listing of curriculum, instruction, and assessment supports and guidance provided to school divisions since 2010 to assist with the implementation of the 2010 English Standards of Learning.  It may be useful to have all this information in one place in the final preparation for the new English Standards of Learning assessments this spring.

Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework Documents
In January 2010, the Board of Education approved the 2010 English Standards of Learning (SOL) and they were subsequently posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Web site with the supporting Curriculum Framework document.  The Curriculum Framework, approved in November 2010, provides guidance for instruction and assessment of the 2010 English SOL.  The English Crosswalk between the 2012 and 2002 Standards provides detail on additions, deletions, and changes included in the 2010 English SOL.

SOL Testing Blueprints
Posted SOL testing blueprints indicate the reporting categories for each of the reading and writing SOL tests, the SOL assessed in each reporting category, the number of test items for each reporting category and for the test as a whole, and the number of field test items for the test.

Enhanced Scope and Sequence (ESS) Sample Lesson Plans
English ESS Sample Lesson Plans were developed to help teachers align instruction with the 2010 English SOL by providing examples of how the knowledge and skills found in the SOL and Curriculum Framework can be presented to students in the classroom. The lesson plans are accessible using a drop-down menu and are organized by grade level and strand.
Instructional Videos and PowerPoint Presentations for Teachers
New instructional videos and PowerPoint presentations on the development of the Standards, rigor, and resources were developed and posted to assist teachers in addressing areas of instructional challenge.
SOL Practice Items
To support student preparation for test questions that assess the 2010 English SOL, a set of practice items delivered via TestNav™, the online testing software used in Virginia, was developed and posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Web site for each SOL English test in both reading and writing.  SOL practice items provide students an opportunity to become familiar with new types of items that reflect the increased rigor and new content found in the 2010 English SOL.  SOL practice items contain technology-enhanced items (TEI) that require students to demonstrate their learning in ways other than a multiple choice format.

An SOL Practice Item Guide, which may be used by teachers or other adults to guide students through the practice items, was developed for each SOL practice item set.  The use of the guide is strongly encouraged, as it will help ensure that students are familiar with the types of items that they may encounter in the online assessments.  The directions in the guide will also lead students through practice with the online tools, and will familiarize students with how to navigate through the test, and how to use the Section Review screen within TestNav™.

Please note that the practice items are not intended to be a complete test and are not intended to cover all content for the grade level or course.  Furthermore, while the practice items provide examples of some TEI, they are not intended to represent all types of functionality associated with these item types.

SOL practice items are currently available for the grades 3 through 8 English reading and writing tests as well as for the end-of-course reading and writing tests.
VMAST Practice Items
Virginia Modified Achievement Standards Test (VMAST) practice items provide examples of supports and simplifications applied to test items to make them more accessible to eligible students with disabilities.

Online Writing Resources
Beginning with the 2013 spring administration of grades 5, 8, and end-of-course Standards of Learning (SOL) writing assessments, Virginia students will complete all direct writing tests online.  The Online Writing Web page provides lesson plans, links to resources, and graphic organizers for teachers to use for instruction on the writing process.
Online Writing Practice Tool
To prepare students fully for the online writing assessment, teachers are encouraged to use the practice tool available from the Online Writing Resources Web page with their students in order to familiarize students with the online formatting tools available in the TestNav testing platform.

Released Writing Prompts
Writing prompts that may be administered on the new Writing Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, beginning with the spring 2013 test administration, are provided for each writing test.  The prompts for the short paper component of each writing test will be selected from the list of available prompts.  Students taking the grade 5 writing test will write a short paper in response to a narrative or expository prompt.  Students taking the grade 8 writing test will respond to an expository or persuasive prompt.  Students taking the end-of-course writing test will respond to a persuasive prompt. Additional prompts may be added to the lists in the future as more prompts become available.

Instruction Writing Checklists
School divisions may add additional writing requirements to these documents. Teachers should consult the Curriculum Framework for grade-specific student writing expectations, as writing instruction is the responsibility of every grade, not just SOL-tested grades.

Progression Charts
Progression charts are available for reading, writing, grammar, and research.  Each chart identifies the grade level at which specific skills or practices are formally introduced in the 2010 English Standards of Learning.

English SOL Institutes
Over the past summer, the VDOE held eight statewide K-12 English SOL Institutes that provided targeted professional development for representatives from each of Virginia’s school divisions in support of the implementation of the 2010 English SOL.  The Institutes focused on the major changes made between the 2002 English SOL and the current 2010 K-12 English SOL in the areas of writing, nonfiction reading, research, and media literacy.  Professional development resources from each institute were posted online.

Approved Textbooks
The VDOE posted the list of textbooks for K-12 English that was approved by the Board of Education in March 2012.  Included are SOL correlations for each approved textbook to assist school divisions in the local textbook adoption process.

Literacy Web page
The English Literacy Web page supports the 2010 English Standards of Learning and provides resources related to literacy from birth through grade twelve.  The goal of literacy instruction in Virginia is to ensure that all children have the necessary skills to become successful readers, writers, speakers, and listeners with the critical thinking skills that are required to be successful as they progress and transition through the stages of their lives.

K-3 English Achievement Records
The Standards of Accreditation require schools to maintain an early skills and knowledge achievement record in reading and mathematics for each student in grades kindergarten through grade 3 to monitor student progress and to promote successful achievement on the third-grade Standards of Learning tests.  Sample achievement records, aligned with the 2010 English SOL, were posted for school divisions.

Questions regarding instructional resources should be directed to Tracy Fair Robertson, English coordinator, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 371-7585; or Thomas Santangelo, elementary English specialist, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-3203; or Jacquelyn Kelley, English specialist, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 786-2484.  Questions regarding assessment resources should be directed to assessment staff, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2102.