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 will give consideration to those students’ individual needs when 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 students receiving special education services. An exception may be made when reporting the progress of a student with a disability who is working to attain functional life skills and is participating in the Virginia Alternative Assessment Program in accordance with his/her IEP.
  • Instruction for students receiving special education services is formulated in accordance with the Program of Studies, which includes the Standards of Learning, Aligned Standards of Learning, and the goals and objectives documented in each student’s IEP.
  • Accommodations are instructional techniques, additional supports, or specialized services designed to help a student make progress or demonstrate learning. Accommodations are provided based on the needs of the student. The report card comment “Receives accommodations” may be used to clarify that accommodations were required for the student to make progress and demonstrate learning in a particular class.
  • Modified instruction occurs when content and performance expectations are selected from the general curriculum to meet a student’s individual needs in developing functional life skills or for a student whose level of academic performance is significantly below grade level expectations. 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 Language Proficiency (ELP) Levels 1-5]

English Learners (ELs), ELP Levels 1-5, are eligible to receive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services. These services provide ELs access to the grade level standards that supports the development of English language proficiency and content understandings in tandem. ELs require instruction that is aligned to both the WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards and the Virginia Standards of Learning and supports their understanding and use of emerging language through scaffolded instructional activities.

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 should be made available to ELs to support their ability to articulate understanding of content, process, and skills as well as to increase equitable access to instruction and assessment. 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. 

ELs enrolled in 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.