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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Assessment for Students with Disabilities

What is the basis for including students with disabilities in Virginia's Accountability System?

It is the intent of the Commonwealth of Virginia to include all students with disabilities in the assessment component of Virginia's accountability system. The federal regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and state regulations under the Virginians with Disabilities Act, Section 51.5-40 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, require that individuals with disabilities be given equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the policies and procedures customarily granted to all individuals.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. 105-17, regulations require that all students with disabilities participate in the state's accountability system. Additionally, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, P.L. 107-110, requires that at least 95% of students with disabilities participate in assessments that measure adequate yearly progress of schools, school divisions, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For all students with disabilities identified under IDEA, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines how the student will participate in the accountability system. A student's IEP must specify the student's participation in either of the following according to the set criteria for participation:

  • The Standards of Learning Assessments
  • The Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP)

When determining participation in Virginia's accountability system, all students with disabilities must be first considered for participation in the Standards of Learning Assessments.

How does the IEP team determine whether a student will participate in the SOL assessment?

Decisions about participation in and how a student with a disability will be tested on the SOL assessment are made independently for each SOL test. The team bases its determination on the fact that the SOL assessments in grades 3, 5, (6 and 7 for social studies), and 8 measure content covered in previous grades. If the student is in grade 3, 5, or 8, the team will consider whether the student has received instruction in the content covered by the SOL assessment in four core areas:

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • History/Social Sciences

Keeping in mind that assessments cover several successive grade levels of content, if the student has received instruction in the area being assessed, the student will participate in that SOL assessment. The IEP team will consider the need for testing accommodations for each assessment area.

Certain high school courses have an SOL end-of-course test that is required for all students enrolled in that course for credit. The IEP team will determine appropriate testing accommodations.

If the IEP team determines the student will not be a participant in any of the SOL assessments at the grade level being assessed, or if the high school student in the 11th grade has not been a participant in any end-of-course test, the team will refer to the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) to determine if the student meets the criteria for participation in VAAP.

Keeping in mind that assessments cover several successive grade levels of content, if the student has received instruction in the area being assessed, the student will participate in that SOL assessment. The IEP team will consider the need for testing accommodations for each assessment area.

Certain high school courses have an SOL end-of-course test that is required for all students enrolled in that course for credit. The IEP team will determine appropriate testing accommodations.

If the IEP team determines the student will not be a participant in any of the SOL assessments at the grade level being assessed, or if the high school student in the 11th grade has not been a participant in any end-of-course test, the team will refer to the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) to determine if the student meets the criteria for participation in VAAP.

What decisions does the IEP team make about participation in assessment?

  • The student's participation in each SOL assessment
  • The selection of required accommodations
  • The student's non-participation in an SOL assessment

Does the parent participate in the decisions made by the IEP team?

Yes, the required IEP team composition ensures that each student's parent is a participating member of the team.

The ramifications of the assessment decisions must be explained to and understood by the student's parent and the student, if appropriate. Parents are encouraged to request clarification regarding any areas that are not clearly understood through the IEP team discussion.

What about testing accommodations

Accommodations allow students with disabilities an equal opportunity to demonstrate their achievement. Typically, accommodations are classified in these categories:

  • Timing/scheduling
  • Setting
  • Presentation
  • Response

Accommodations should not be used only for participating in an SOL assessment.

Testing accommodation selections should be based on those the student needs and uses during classroom instruction and assessments as identified in the IEP.

The Virginia Department of Education has developed a list of standard and non-standard accommodations allowed. Other accommodations not included on the list can be considered and possibly approved. The IEP team has access to this list.

A student with a disability, who has passed an SOL assessment using any accommodation, including a non-standard accommodation, has passed for all purposes including verified credit.

What are possible consequences when a student does not participate in an SOL assessment?

The student will not have the opportunity to participate in the school's remediation recovery program, which is available to students who have not passed the English: reading and/or mathematics SOL tests in grades 3, 5, and the end-of-course test (EOC) in mathematics.

The student may not be eligible to graduate with an Advanced Studies, Standard, or Modified Standard Diploma.

Teachers, parents, and the student will not receive the information on student progress contained in the SOL score reports.

The student may not have the opportunity to experience an SOL assessment prior to taking the assessments needed for graduation.

NOTE: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that at least 95% of students with disabilities participate in state assessments that measure adequate yearly progress. These assessments are currently in the areas of reading/language arts and mathematics and will include science beginning in 2007-2008.

Can the IEP team decide that a student will not participate in an SOL assessment because the student might not pass the assessment?

No, that is not an acceptable reason for making the decision for why a particular assessment is not appropriate. There are several more reasons that should not be used in making this decision. They are:

  • The student's disability;
  • The belief that the student does not need this assessment to be promoted to the next grade or to graduate with an Advanced Studies, Standard, Modified
    Standard, or Special diploma;
  • The student is reading or is performing below grade level;
  • The belief that the experience will be too stressful for the student;
  • The student's behavior prohibits taking the test with a group; and
  • The student has not mastered all of the curriculum that is covered on the 3rd,
    5th, or 8th grade Standards of Learning assessments (6th and 7th for social
    studies).

What is the purpose of the Virginia Alternate Assessment?

The purpose is to evaluate the performance of students with disabilities who in the past may not have participated in traditional state assessment programs.

What information does the IEP team use to determine whether a student will participate in the Virginia Alternate Assessment?

  • The student is not participating in any SOL assessment during the testing
    year (grade 3, 5, or 8) or is not taking any end-of-course test in high school.
  • The student has a current IEP.
  • The student has impairments that prevent completion of curriculum based on
    the SOL even with accommodations.
  • The student has the need for extensive, direct instruction in a life skills
    curriculum.
  • The student needs intensive, frequent, and individualized instruction in
    variety of settings to show progress and acquire, maintain, or generalize life
    and/or functional academic skills.
  • The student is working toward educational goals other than those required for
    an Advanced Studies, Standard, or Modified Standard Diploma.

For further information access the Virginia Department of Education.

For procedures for Participation of Students with Disabilities in the Assessment Component of Virginia's Accountability System.

SUPPORTING PROGRAMS:
Alternate Assessment Annex Cafe
Audiological Services Preschool Assessment Center
Homebound Services Psychological Services
Homeless Education Project School Social Work Services
Jails Education Program Special Education Coordinators
Parent Support and Information Center Medicaid

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017