Interpretation's Date: December 3, 2004
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: I. State Educational Administration
December 3, 2004
Dear Ms. Cartwright:
I am in receipt of your request to permit the students at Student Aspect Preparatory School to meet the annual assessment requirement of WV Code 18-28-3 by taking the same test as the one currently utilized in the public school system. Student Aspect Preparatory School is a nonpublic school operating under the regulations set forth in WV Code 18-28-1 et al. Such schools are commonly referred to as Exemption (k) schools.
In reviewing WV Code 18-28-3, I am of the opinion that the legislative language acknowledges the importance of clear curriculum objectives and a strong instructional program in the development of "literate citizens." Likewise, the language implies the relationship between the role of assessment in determining the academic progress of students in Exemption (k) schools and the development of students into the literate citizens referenced. Further, the language reflects what was known about acceptable academic testing in 1983, particularly the use of standardized, norm referenced testing as reflected in the language used in the this section of the law.
Because it is obvious in this particular section of the law, that the intent is to assess the academic progress of students in the nonpublic schools operating under the regulations set forth in WV Code 18-28-1 et al. in a manner consistent with assessment commonly utilized within the state's public education system, it is my opinion that any Exemption (k) school that voluntarily chooses to assess the students within its school with the same assessment instrument as utilized within the public schools of West Virginia will be in compliance with this law.
This opinion does not remove the other WV Code 18-28-3 options as noted within the language of this section, nor does it require any Exemption (k) school to utilize the public school's assessment instrument. As you are aware, Exemption (k) schools must annually test all students ages 7-16 years of age. The current public school assessment tests students in grades 3-8 and grade 10. If you have students who are 7-16 years of age and in grades other than those tested with the public school assessment, you are still responsible for administering an annual assessment to these students. Any of the options provided within WV Code 18-28-3 will satisfy the assessment of these students. Finally, this opinion does not remove the necessity of Exemption (k) schools following regulations for private school testing as stipulated in West Board of Education Policy 2340: West Virginia Measures of Academic Progress, Section 4.12, a copy of which is enclosed.
Finally, I encourage you to follow Mrs. Larry's suggestion that you work with your area legislators to bring about change in the language of WV Code 18-28-3. Such action would set this interpretation into state code.