SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 42
June 6, 1997 |

TO: | Division Superintendents |

FROM: | Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction |

SUBJECT: | Graphing Calculators and Scientific Probes |

Section 22.1-199.1, Code of Virginia (Programs designed to promote educational opportunities), specifies that the Departments of Education, Information Technology, and General Services shall coordinate master contracts for the purchase of educational technologies by local school boards. These technologies include graphing calculators and scientific probes/sensors required by the Standards of Learning. The enclosed briefing paper provides a description of the Graphing Calculator and Scientific Probe Initiative and a proposal for purchase. Enclosed also is a form the Department of Education has prepared for your response. The due date for your response to the Department of Education is June 15, 1997. Initiative questions should be directed to Dr. Ida J. Hill, Assistant Superintendent for Technology at (804) 225-2757 or Mr. Dan Timberlake, Assistant Superintendent for Finance at (804) 225-2025. RTL/emt Enclosures: A hard copy of this memo and its enclosures will be sent to the superintendent's office GRAPHING CALCULATOR AND SCIENTIFIC PROBES FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS May, 1997 BACKGROUND The Board of Education has identified four focus areas for Virginia schools. The first focus area is the adoption of Standards of Learning for the core curriculum subjects of mathematics, science, English, and history and social science. The Standards are rigorous and require use of technology. The three other focus areas (assessment, accountability, and a school report card) are at varying stages of implementation. The use of graphing calculators is a required component of the state mathematics standards. Mathematics assessment items are being developed that will afford students the opportunity to use graphing calculators. Governor Allen proposed, and the General Assembly approved, using approximately $20 million for graphing calculators and scientific probes for Virginia schools. Purchases are to be made in fiscal year 1998. No local match is required for participation in this initiative. RATIONALE FOR DISTRIBUTION The Standards of Learning for mathematics require all students to meet the Algebra I standards. Most students will be expected to achieve the Algebra I standards by the end of grade 9. Tenth graders typically will enroll in geometry and Algebra II. The standards for these courses require students to use scientific probe kits with the graphing calculators. Use of graphing calculators and graphing software is required not only in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, but also in mathematical analysis and calculus courses. These calculators and graphing softwares are also utilized in science instruction. Earth science and biology are typically taught at the 8th and 9th grade levels, and instruction in these subjects can be enhanced with the use of graphing calculators and scientific probes. Therefore, the plan is to fund the technology tools for students to use in mathematics and science. The recommended student-to-probe ratio is four-to-one and the student-to-calculator ratio is one-to-one.DISTRIBUTION PLAN The percentages of enrollment for students to receive scientific probe kits and graphing calculators are 100 for each of the 9th and 10th grades, and 54 for the 8th grade. There are 88,721 students enrolled in grade 9 and there are 77,806 students enrolled in grade 10. Student enrollment in grade 8 is 80,842. Procurement for total enrollment in grade 9 would require 88,721 calculators and 22,180 probe kits. Procurement for grade 10 would require 77,806 calculators and 19,452 probe kits. Fifty-four percent procurement for grade 8 would require 43,655 calculators and 10,914 probe kits. The number of probe kits and calculators to be procured will be based upon a 1:4 probe kit-to-calculator ratio. The lower percent of enrollment for grade 8 is to accommodate the less than 100 percent of students enrolled in algebra in grade 8. Surveys and the Outcome Accountability Project report indicate that approximately 30 percent of students take Algebra I by the end of grade 8. Of the 47 percent of students qualifying for advanced placement diplomas at least 47 percent take Algebra II. Graphing calculators and scientific probe kits in schools purchased through local funds can be shifted for 11th and 12th grade student use to meet advanced diploma requirements. OPTIONS FOR PROCUREMENT The Department of Education is trying to determine the best option for the procurement of graphing calculators and scientific probes. Since this technology is provided through one hundred percent state funding, our decision will be guided by input from school divisions. Three obvious options are available to schools. The first option is to authorize DOE to negotiate the purchase of all graphing calculators and scientific probes in cooperation with agencies and bidders. To the extent possible, the purchases would be based upon school division preference. The DOE would negotiate shipping arrangements to divisions. A state purchase would ensure lower per unit cost which would ultimately permit more units to be purchased and reduce local resource requirements. A second option is a state contract (state bid list) authorized by school boards and divisions. Since language in the state appropriation act earmarks use of the funds to purchase graphing calculators and scientific probe kits, cost efficiency is a factor to be considered. A state contract would result in lower per unit costs which would ultimately permit more units to be purchased. Additionally, the possibility exists that purchases may be extended beyond the 1998 fiscal year at the same per unit cost. A division electing to receive its grant for local procurement will receive its share of the funds based upon the per unit cost under state procurement and will be required to provide purchase certification to the department. The third option is to develop a distribution funding formula to send grants directly to school divisions. While this option affords autonomy at the local level, it does not consider the advantage of bulk purchasing which would result in lower per unit cost and additional tools for schools. School divisions choosing this option will be required to certify to the department that the funds were used to purchase graphing caluclators and probes for science. ISSUE The Department of Education (DOE) will work with the Division of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Information Technology (DIT) to implement a state procurement. DGS process and DOE approval to purchase by school divisions may temporarily delay delivery of the units until early in FY 98. GRAPHING CALCULATOR AND SCIENTIFIC PROBE Participation Response Form May 30, 1997 Superintendents Memorandum # Dated: May 30, 1997 Response Form Due Date: June 16, 1997 Options for State Contract/Bid List: My division is aware of the three options and an anticipated process for acquiring the graphing calculators and scientific probes to support the Standards of Learning. Our preference is as follows: (check one) My division prefers to have the DOE purchase and distribute the calculators and probes. My division prefers to authorize the Department of Education to proceed with a state contract/bid list My division prefers to receive direct funding for a local procurement Return this form to Dr. Ida J. Hill, Assistant Superintendent, Virginia Department of Education, P. O. Box 2120, Richmond, VA 23218 or FAX to (804) 786-5389. Authorized Signature: Superintendent or Board Chair County/City: Date: