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Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA). Selecting Appropriate Students Virginia Department of Education Updated Summer 2013. What is the VGLA?. An evidence-based alternative assessment for the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests

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virginia grade level alternative vgla

Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA)

Selecting Appropriate Students

Virginia Department of Education

Updated Summer 2013

what is the vgla
What is the VGLA?
  • An evidence-basedalternative assessment for the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests
  • Available to eligible students with disabilities in grades 3-8 in Science, Writing, and History/Social Science
  • Available to eligible Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in grades 3-8 in Reading only

2013 – 2014 VGLA Implementation Manual –p. vii



Students with Disabilities

selecting appropriate assessment options for students with disabilities
Selecting Appropriate Assessment Options forStudents with Disabilities
  • The majority of students with disabilities are expected to participate in the SOL assessments with or without accommodations.
  • If a student cannot access the SOL test(s) in a content area, even with accommodations, the student may be considered for the VGLA.
students with disabilities
Students with Disabilities

VGLA participation is determined by grade level and courses:

  • Grade 3 – Science and History/Social Science
  • Grade 5 – Writing and Science
  • Grade 8 – Writing and Science
  • VGLA Content Specific History (Virginia Studies, United States History I, United States History II, and Civics & Economics) may be provided to students with disabilities at the same grade levels as their non-disabled peers.

2013-2014 VGLA Implementation Manual – p. 1

selecting appropriate assessment options for students with disabilities6
Selecting Appropriate Assessment Options for Students with Disabilities

Typical Characteristics of a student with a

disability recommended for the VGLA:

  • Enrolled in grades 3 through 8
  • Has an IEP or 504 plan
  • Has a disability that results in an inability to demonstrate knowledge and skill on a multiple-choice test, even when accommodations are provided
  • Demonstrates work on SOL that is at grade level
students with disabilities7
Students with Disabilities
  • Eligibility determined by IEP Team/504 Committee and documented in the IEP or 504 plan.
  • Eligibility determinations must be made on an individual and course-by-course basis.
  • Eligibility must be based on Participation Criteria qualifying questions, supporting documentation, and justification statement.
  • Participation Criteria forms and additional information are provided in the Procedures for Participation of Students with Disabilities in Virginia’s Accountability System available at

2013– 2014 VGLA Implementation Manual –p. 1

vgla participation criteria
VGLA Participation Criteria
  • Section I: Student Information
  • Section II: School Division Information
  • Section III: Performance Overview
  • Section IV: Justification Statement
  • Section V: Qualifying Questions
questions to clarify
Questions to Clarify
  • Why is the course content teacher needed?
  • The IEP/504 teams assessment decision is on a test-by-test basis. The teacher of the content area being considered is in the best position to provide and discuss the student work samples required in this process.
questions to clarify11
Questions to Clarify
  • What are alternative formats?
  • Alternative formats are methods other than multiple-choice formats used for a student to demonstrate their knowledge. Alternate formats may include, but are not limited to, interviews, projects, short answer formats, and demonstrations.
questions to clarify12
Questions to Clarify
  • Should the multiple-choice and alternative format demonstrate the same skill or concept?
  • Yes, the same SOL skill or concept should be reflected in the multiple-choice and alternative format work samples. This will provide the IEP team/504 committee with a thorough basis for decision-making.
questions to clarify13
Questions to Clarify
  • How should student performance be described?

The description of student performance may include grading, evaluative comments, rubric scores, or other methods used by the teacher to provide feedback and to convey the accuracy of the student’s work.

information that should be gathered prior to the iep 504 committee meeting14
Information that should be gathered priorto the IEP/504 Committee Meeting
  • Determine how the student accesses SOL content and demonstrates skills and knowledge.
    • Select a specific content area
    • Gather three or more class work and assessment samples using the multiple-choice format and three or more class work assessment samples in alternative formats.
multiple choice work samples
Multiple-Choice Work Samples
  • Unit test in multiple-choice format on traits of organisms that allow them to survive in their environment.
    • Student completed the test and received a grade of 70%.
  • Multiple-choice pop quiz on traits of organisms that allow them to survive in their environment.
    • Student only got 2 out of the 4 questions correct and failed the pop quiz.

Content Area – Science

  • Multiple-choice worksheet in which student reads passage and selects the traits of organisms that allow them to survive in their environment from 4 answer options.
    • Student completed the work sheet independently and earned a score of 60%.
alternative format work samples
Alternative Format Work Samples
  • Unit test with short answer responses on traits of organisms which allow them to survive in their environment.
    • Student often requested help with the spelling of words in his responses, but most responses were correct. Student earned a “B-” on the test.
  • Reading passage in which student identified the traits of organisms which allow survival in their environment by circling organism traits and underlining environment conditions.
    • Student earned 80% on the assignment. Teacher comment stated that the student needed to read the passage more carefully.

Content Area - Science

  • Graphic organizer created after reading a science journal article regarding the traits of animal species which allow survival or lead to extinction.
    • The assignment was completed over 2 class periods. Student earned an “A” on the assignment. Teacher noted that the student was very engaged.
sample justification statement
Sample Justification Statement
  • Brief Overview of the student’s disability

Marti is a 5th grade student and recent evaluations indicated that her vision is deteriorating rapidly. She also has significant processing deficits. This information was the basis of her identification as a student with Visual Impairments and Other Health Impairments.

  • Impact of the disability on the student’s classroom performance

A review of Marti’s educational records indicated that she was a strong reader in earlier grades when her vision was stable. Her recent decline in visual acuity has made reading, even with large print materials, very difficult. Her Science teacher stated that Marti seems to be easily distracted and overwhelmed especially on chapter and unit tests. She received extremely low grades on her most recent nine weeks science tests. Interviews have been used on science assignments along with the read aloud accommodation and Marti has been able to demonstrate her knowledge.

sample justification statement continued
Sample Justification Statement (continued)
  • Accommodations that have been used in classroom, division and state assessments and the impact on the student performance

Marti currently uses large print materials and the read-aloud accommodation. Even with these accommodations, Marti finds it difficult to stay focused and to process what is being read to her. She failed her recent benchmark test in science which was given with accommodations. Braille is currently being proposed by her vision teacher, but Marti is not likely to be proficient enough to use Braille for the Spring SOL testing administration. The IEP team has determined that alternative testing formats are the most appropriate method for Marti to demonstrate her achievement.

vgla qualifying questions
VGLA Qualifying Questions

1. Does the student have a current IEP/504 plan or is one being developed?

2. Does the student demonstrate his/her individual achievement of the SOL content by means other than multiple-choice test format?

3. As a result of a disability, is the student unable to demonstrate his/her individual achievement on the SOL test for the assigned course and grade level using available accommodations and/or formats?

to qualify for the vgla
To Qualify for the VGLA

The student’s IEP/504 committee must:

  • Answer YES to the 3 qualifying questions in Section V for each content area considered.
  • Have the required supporting document

Note: An IEP/504 committee response of “NO “for any question and/or the lack of supporting documentation indicates that the student is NOT eligible for the VGLA for the content area being considered.

VGLA Implementation Manual 2010-2011, p. 5


Selecting Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

lep students
LEP Students
  • Eligibility for VGLA Reading must be determined by the LEP team and documented in the student’s LEP Student Assessment Participation Plan.
  • Eligibility decisions are based on:
    • WIDA ACCESS for ELLs Overall Score (Composite) OR
    • WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT) Composite Proficiency Level OR
    • WIDA Measurement of Developing English Language (MODEL) Assessment Overall Score (Composite)

Additional information is available in Limited English Proficient Students: Guidelines for Participation in the Virginia Assessment Program available at

2013-2014 VGLA Implementation Manual – p. 1

lep students25
LEP Students
  • Eligibility for VGLA Reading must be determined by the LEP team and documented in the student’s LEP Student Assessment Participation Plan. The table below displays the eligibility criteria.

*If the LEP student does not have an ACCESS for ELLs Overall Score (Composite), the composite score from the W-APT or MODEL may be used to determine eligibility for the VGLA Reading assessment.

lep students with disabilities
LEP Students with Disabilities
  • Referred to as “dually identified” students
  • IEP/504 committees and LEP committees must work collaboratively to determine VGLA Reading participation and accommodations based on LEP and disability statuses.
  • Assessment participation and accommodations must be documented in the IEP/504 plan and the LEP Student Assessment Participation Plan.

2013-2014 VGLA Implementation Manual – p. 1


Virginia Department of Education

Division of Student Assessment and School Improvement

(804) 225-2102