Assessing Special Populations in Middle School (Secondary Grading and Reporting)

Guidance on grading middle school students receiving services such as: special education, ESOL, Homebound instruction or home based instruction.

Special education students with 504 plans, and Standards of Learning (SOL) English Learners (ELs) receiving instruction in the general curriculum are required to meet course objectives.  Accommodations and modifications to instruction are made for students’ individual needs.

Special Education Students 

The IEP team determines service delivery options and appropriate placement for students eligible to receive special education services.  Teachers and teams who work with students receiving special education services need  to consider  students’ individual needs when assessing performance, utilizing accommodations and reporting to parents/guardians.  Mastery of content can be achieved when students are provided with appropriate scaffolding and differentiated resources.  The following guidelines are used in assessing the progress of students receiving special education services:

  • The Middle School Report Card is used when reporting grades for all students, including those with disabilities with an IEP or  504 Plan. . 
  • Instruction for students receiving special education services in the general curriculum is formulated in accordance with the Program of Studies, which includes the Standards of Learning, the Virginia Essentialized Standards of Learning, and the goals and objectives documented in each student’s IEP. Accommodations and modifications to instruction are provided based on student needs as defined by the student’s IEP or 504 Plan.
  • Accommodations are instructional techniques, additional supports, designed to help a student make progress and/or demonstrate learning. Accommodations are provided based on the needs of the student.
  • Modified instruction occurs when content and performance expectations are adjusted for individual students’ needs and prevent the student from accessing or demonstrating grade level knowledge. Modified instruction in the general curriculum is based on the needs of the student.  The report card comment “Receives modified instruction” may be used to clarify that modified instruction in the general curriculum was needed for a student to make progress in a particular class.  

The need for accommodations and modified instruction for a student receiving special education services is documented in the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP). The grades of students receiving special education services will reflect achievement of grade-level expectations, selected from the general curriculum, and based on student need.  In addition, students are evaluated according to individual rates of progress, based on IEP goals and objectives.  

Principals have the responsibility for grade-level placement.  After consultation with appropriate staff members and parents/guardians, grade level placement decisions will be made after considering all relevant information including the IEP of a student receiving special education services.

English Learners 

English Learners (ELs), ELP Levels 1-4, must be provided appropriate EL services through a Language Instruction Educational Program.  In FCPS, the LIEP Model and Standards guide program implementation for ELs that include both English language development (ELD) and scaffolded content, language, and literacy instruction in the grade level classroom. These services provide ELs the support they need to attain both English proficiency and equal opportunities for EL students to meaningfully participate in curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular programs and activities.
ELs in middle school are provided differentiated pathways to meet the same rigorous learning expectations as their English proficient peers. Programming ensures that ELs are set up for success by providing access to appropriate language services based on student’s individual needs and EL profiles. Supported by academic advising, ELs are provided equitable opportunities to participate in the full range of programming and curricular options available (e.g., specialized academic programs such as honors, AAP, and MYP, and choice electives). To ensure access to rigorous grade level standards, ELs receive both English Language Development (ELD) instruction, aligned to the WIDA ELD standards, and differentiated and scaffolded content instruction, aligned to the Standards of Learning. In general, the intensity of support decreases as the student’s ELP level increases. 

A variety of instructional models may be used to support ELs including: EL designated sections (Beginning English, FOCUS Science, US History II for ELs, Civics for ELs), co-taught classes, and general education classes using sheltering techniques. Students must be enrolled in the appropriate grade level course. ELD may be taken pass/fail per Regulation 2436, Optional Pass/Fail Grading for High School Courses.

Teachers and parents/guardians should maintain realistically high expectations for ELs. When provided with appropriate scaffolding and differentiated resources, ELs can master and demonstrate understanding of rigorous content. Regular collaboration and consultation with ESOL teachers can apprise content teachers, teams, and parents/guardians of the student’s language development goals and academic expectations. By attending to students’ English language proficiency levels, the WIDA Performance Definitions, and the WIDA Can Do descriptors, teachers adjust instruction and assessment to the ELs specific language development needs.

Appropriate accommodations and/or alternative assessments increase equitable access to instruction and assessment and are used to ensure that evaluations are true measures of what an EL knows, understands, and is able to do. Scaffolds, supports, and accommodations should be a routine part of instruction and assessment practices. Accommodations may include changes to the process, the response format, or the task itself with a goal of making the assessment accessible to and leveling the playing field for ELs. 

Accommodations provide linguistic support such as the use of dictionaries, read aloud, and plain English versions of assessments.  Specific testing accommodations for English Learners are published annually. For large scale assessments, the EL Committee makes and documents assessment participation decisions for ELs and Former ELs on the English Learner Student Assessment Participation Plan (ELSAPP). The accommodations offered on these assessments should be regularly practiced in classroom activities to determine effectiveness. 

Middle School ELs enrolled in high school credit bearing classes may participate with an audit status.  At any time an audit status may be changed to credit status at the request of the teacher if the student demonstrates the ability to fulfill the course requirements.

Homebound and Home-based Instruction

The current versions of Policy 2140, Homebound Instruction and Regulation 2140, Homebound and Home-based Instruction for Students set policy and procedures regarding homebound and home-based instruction