Superintendent’s Memo #333-12

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 Science Standards of Learning

The following is an annotated listing of certain curriculum, instruction, and assessment supports and guidance provided to school divisions since 2010 to assist with the implementation of the 2010 Science Standards of Learning.  It may be useful to have all this information in one place in the final preparation for the new Science Standards of Learning assessments this winter and spring. The science instruction Web page has recently been reorganized to allow for easy navigation.

Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework Documents
In January 2010, the Board of Education approved the 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOL) and they were subsequently posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Web site with their supporting Curriculum Framework documents.  The Curriculum Framework, approved in October 2010, provides guidance for instruction and assessment of the 2010 Science SOL.  The Science Crosswalk between the 2010 and 2003 Standards provides detail on additions, deletions, and changes included in the 2010 Science SOL.

Science SOL Institutes
Over the past three years, the VDOE held two statewide K-12 Science SOL Institutes that provided targeted professional development for representatives from each of Virginia’s school divisions in support of the implementation of the 2010 Science SOL. Professional development resources from the two Institutes are posted online to facilitate ongoing professional development in school divisions on the changes in the science standards and effective strategies for teaching science. These resources include facilitator guides, presentations, handouts, links to articles, and other professional development materials.

Virginia Science Standards Institutes (VSSI)
The two Institutes modeled exemplary science instruction, especially focusing on kindergarten through third-grade science SOL content and processes using cross-curricular instruction, student teams, and inquiry-based, project-based, and place-based learning. Teachers participating in a VSSI worked as a vertical school/division team to design a school/division instructional unit framework during the week.

Virginia Animals and their Habitats
This is a second-grade cross-curricular unit that integrates the content areas of science, language arts, mathematics, and history and social science; and addresses 40 grade-two Virginia Standards of Learning.  The unit allows for students to develop an understanding of Virginia animals and their habitats through active research, investigation and data collection, mathematical analysis, and communication. The unit utilizes inquiry, student teamwork, project-based learning, student  journals, and fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources.

Enhanced Scope and Sequence (ESS) Sample Lesson Plans
Science ESS Sample Lesson Plans were developed to help teachers align instruction with the 2010 Science 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. Sample lesson plans are currently provided for kindergarten through chemistry.

The Practices for Science Investigation Progression chart identifies the grade level at which specific science skills/practices are formally introduced and how they progress throughout the 2010 Science Standards of Learning.

Kindergarten – Grade Three Science Progression Technical Assistance Document shows the progression of standards from kindergarten through third grade and how they relate to reporting categories on the Grade 3 Science SOL Test Blueprint.

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

SOL Testing Blueprints
SOL testing blueprints, posted in 2011, indicate the reporting categories for each SOL test, 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.

SOL Practice Item Sets
To support student preparation for test questions that assess the 2010 Science 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 science test.  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 Science 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 while taking the science tests.  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.

Periodic Table of the Elements
The Periodic Table of the Elements for the new Chemistry test, based on the 2010 Science SOL, is different from the Periodic Table of the Elements for the test based on the previous standards (2003).   The new Periodic Table of the Elements can be found on the VDOE Web site at:  Students taking the new paper/pencil tests will use the Periodic Table of the Elements included in their test booklets.  Students taking the new online Chemistry test must use only the Periodic Table of the Elements provided on the online toolbar.  The online Periodic Table of the Elements is interactive, meaning the element will appear in a larger window once the student selects it to view.  

Approved Calculators
The posted listing of state-approved calculators for science and science SOL assessments includes the addition of newly approved graphing calculators.

Questions regarding instructional resources should be directed to Eric M. Rhoades, acting director, via e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 786-2481; or Barbara Young, science specialist, via e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2676.  Questions regarding assessment resources should be directed to assessment staff via e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2102.