P.O. BOX 2120



November 19, 2004



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



The Virginia Grade Level Alternative Assessment


The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 requires that: 


The States academic assessment system must provide for one or more alternate assessments for a child with a disability as defined under section 602(3) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(IDEA) whom the childs IEP team determines cannot participate in all or part of the State assessments . . . even with appropriate accommodations.


In compliance with NCLB and the IDEA, the Department of Education currently offers the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) for students with significant cognitive impairments. School division personnel have expressed interest in an assessment that meets the needs of students who are not eligible for the VAAP, but for whom the regular Standards of Learning (SOL) tests are not appropriate. Since NCLB allows for the creation of "one or more" alternate assessments, the Department of Education has developed the Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA) assessment. Provisions for the VGLA were included in Virginia's Consolidated State Accountability Workbook for implementation during the 2004-2005 school year.


The VGLA provides for an alternate method of assessing student knowledge measured against grade-level achievement standards. The VGLA is designed for the population of students with disabilities enrolled in grades 3-8 who are unable to participate in the SOL assessments, even with accommodations, and who do not meet the participation criteria for the VAAP. The decision to participate in the VGLA is made by a students Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, and must be documented on the students current IEP.


Participants in the VGLA are expected to submit a body of evidence to demonstrate proficiency on Virginias SOL for a given content area. Evidence submitted for the VGLA may include work samples, audiotapes, videotapes, interviews, and other forms of student-produced evidence that demonstrate proficiency on the SOL articulated in the blueprint for a specific eligible grade level content area. The VGLA will be used as a substitute for a SOL test for the purpose of demonstrating a students proficiency of SOL grade level content at grades 3 through 8. A students work portfolio will be scored using a standardized rubric that reflects those essential skills for each grade level and standards addressed.


The Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA) Procedural Manual will be posted on the Department of Education website at:

by November 30, 2004. The manual will include specific VGLA guidelines, implementation procedures, a description of the scoring process, and other pertinent information.


Registration for regional training opportunities for local division staff will be available January 2005. It is anticipated that assessment, special education, and instructional personnel may participate in training.


Questions about the procedures manual, forms, or participation guidelines may be addressed to Nathan Sparks at (804) 225-3026 or by e-mail (, or to the staff of the Division of Assessment and Reporting at (804) 225-2102.