Superintendent’s Memo #127-16

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

May 27, 2016

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Formative Assessment Online Professional Development

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will make an online formative assessment professional development opportunity available beginning in October 2016. Selected school teams will participate in structured activities correlated to online modules developed by the Center of Standards and Assessment Implementation and will use formative assessment strategies embedded in classroom instruction to enhance student learning. The modules were developed from the work of Dr. Margaret Heritage, noted expert on formative assessment. These modules represent evidence-based practices for promoting formative assessment strategies in the classroom drawn from years of work with teachers. The modules have been used by educators across the country to support teachers in this process. Schools across the Commonwealth that have previously completed these modules through a pilot program supported by VDOE report an increase in effective formative assessment practices by teachers and associate increased student learning with these practices.

Participation in this professional development is open to any Virginia public school. At the division level, one contact person to support the expansion of the use of formative assessment in the school division should be identified (Division Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Division Mathematics Supervisor, etc.). At the school level, the team will include a school administrator (principal or assistant principal) and a group of teachers who will meet at a minimum of every two weeks for 60 minutes each session at the participating school for the explicit purpose of the pilot. Teams will work through activities from the formative assessment modules at their home schools, implement activities in their classrooms, and reflect or report results online within a private Google+ community. A two-year commitment to participation in the program is expected of all participants and will be required for completion of all the formative assessment modules and activities. School teams selected for participation will attend one of four meetings, which will be held during the week of September 26, 2016 or the week of October 3, 2016. The locations and exact dates of these meetings will be determined with input from participants.

The responsibilities associated with participation in the program are outlined in the Attachment A, “Formative Assessment Online Professional Development Participation Agreement 2016-2018.” Schools selected for participation are expected to sign and return this agreement to VDOE by June 30, 2016.

To indicate interest in participation, the school administrator should complete the Formative Assessment Online Professional Development Recruitment Survey no later than June 17, 2016.  A PDF copy of the survey questions can be found in Attachment B for your convenience so that you may preview the questions. Selected schools will be notified for participation in the pilot no later than June 24, 2016.

If you have questions about participation in the Formative Assessment Online Professional Development program, please contact the student assessment staff by e-mail at or by phone at (804) 225-2102.



  1. Formative Assessment Online Professional Development Participation Agreement 2016-2018 (Word)
  2. Formative Assessment Online Professional Development Recruitment Survey (PDF)