Superintendent’s Memo #321-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

December 16, 2011

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Participation in Field Testing of Reading Assessment Items for the Virginia Modified Achievement Standards Test (VMAST)

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has worked closely with Virginia educators and Pearson, Virginia's testing contractor, to develop the Virginia Modified Achievement Standards Test (VMAST).  The VMAST is an alternate assessment in which research-based supports and simplifications are applied to existing online test items to make them more accessible to eligible students with disabilities who are instructed in grade level content but are not likely to achieve proficiency in the same time frame as their non-disabled peers.

In preparation for implementation of the VMAST reading assessments in spring 2013, VDOE and Pearson will conduct a field test of the VMAST reading items from May 14, 2012 to June 22, 2012. Field testing of these reading items is crucial in determining the effectiveness of supports and simplifications.  All field test participants must be students identified as disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA). Students identified as disabled under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are not eligible to participate. Since student scores and school reports will not be produced for performance on the VMAST reading field tests, all field test participants must also participate in the state reading assessment identified on the students' Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

All students with disabilities enrolled in grades 3-8 or end-of-course reading in your division who are likely to meet the VMAST participation criteria are expected to participate. The VMAST participation criteria are available on the VDOE Web site at

Division directors of testing and special education directors will be notified regarding field test resources and registration information under separate cover.  If you have questions, please contact the student assessment staff at or (804) 225-2102.