P.O. BOX 2120



October 19, 2007



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Nominations for Alternate Assessment based on Modified Achievement Standards (AA-MAS) Steering Committee and Focus Groups

On May 20, 2007, the United States Department of Education (USDE) published regulations providing guidance to states on the development of alternate assessments for students with disabilities who are pursuing modified achievement standards. Following the release of these regulations, the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) announced the availability of grants for states interested in development of such assessments. The Virginia Department of Education submitted a grant proposal to OSEP and on September 26, 2007, was notified that the Virginia proposal had been funded. Virginias proposal seeks to develop participation criteria to identify students who would appropriately pursue modified achievement standards and to investigate the feasibility of modifying the existing grade 8 online reading and mathematics tests to provide additional supports for students taking the AA-MAS. As a part of the grant, the Office of Test Administration, Scoring, and Reporting is seeking nominations from qualified educators to serve on one steering committee and five(5) focus groups to assist in the process.


The Steering Committee will be responsible for

  • drafting Performance Level Descriptors for grade 8 reading and mathematics for students pursuing modified achievement standards;
  • determining student participation criteria;
  • identifying student supports and scaffolds for online testing; and
  • providing continuous feedback.

The Steering Committee is expected to participate in two meetings each during the three-year grant period, 2007-2009.


The Focus Groups will be responsible for

  • reviewing and providing feedback on the Performance Level Descriptors and student participation criteria drafted by the Steering Committee; and
  • completing a questionnaire regarding the students perceived as matching the AA-MAS profile.


The Focus Groups are expected to participate in a one-time meeting during year one.


Approximately eight to ten middle school teachers will be selected to serve on the steering committee and five to eight teachers will be selected to serve on each of five (5) focus groups that will be conducted across the state.


You are invited to identify educator(s) in your division for the steering committee and five focus groups. All nominations must be received at the Virginia Department of Education by November 2, 2007. Applications may be faxed to the Office of Test Administration, Scoring and Reporting at (804) 371-8978.


Selection Criteria: Expertise in providing reading and/or mathematics instruction to students with mild to moderate disabilities and balanced regional representation.


Steering Committee members will be provided the following:


         reimbursement for meals and travel expenses in accordance with state travel policy and guidelines;


         certificate for recertification points; and

         reimbursement to school divisions for teachers who need substitutes.


Focus Group members will be provided the following:


         reimbursement for travel expenses in accordance with state travel policy and guidelines; and

         certificate for recertification points.


Steering Committee meeting dates and location:


November 14-16, 2007 Sheraton Park South Hotel, Richmond


January 17-18, 2008 TBD


Focus Groups meeting dates and location:


December 3, 2007 Newport News School Board Office

(9:00-11:00 a.m.) Newport News, Virginia


December 3, 2007 Stafford School Board Office

(3:00-5:00 p.m.) Stafford, Virginia


December 4, 2007 Wytheville Community College

(9:00-11:00 a.m.) Wytheville, Virginia


December 4, 2007 Albemarle School Board Office

(3:30-5:30 p.m.) Charlottesville, Virginia


December 5, 2007 Mathematics and Science Center

(10:00-12:00 a.m.) Richmond, Virginia


If you have questions, please contact the Office of Test Administration, Scoring, and Reporting at (804) 225-2107 or e-mail


Your continued support of this effort is greatly appreciated.