Local Alternative Assessment (LAA) and Performance-Based Assessment (PBA)

LAAs including PBAs are used in place of SOL tests in some grade level content areas

LAAs were adopted by VDOE and FCPS in place of Standards of Learning (SOL) tests to support balanced assessment practices as part of the Virginia Assessment Program for grades 3-8.

What are Local Alternative Assessments (LAAs)?

LAAs are the combination of formal and informal assessments delivered as part of regular classroom instruction throughout the school year. Within FCPS, LAAs are used to fulfill state requirements for annual performance and progress monitoring in the following grade level content areas:

  • Grade 3 Science
  • Grade 3 Social Studies
  • Grade 4 Virginia Studies
  • Grade 6 U.S. History I
  • Grade 7 U.S. History II
  • Grade 8 Civics and Economics

What are Performance-Based Assessments (PBAs)?

Within LAAs, student progress and achievement is monitored through a variety of assessments throughout the year, to include the use of performance-based assessments (PBAs). A PBA requires students to perform a task or create a product and is scored using a rubric. In completing the PBA, students move beyond ‘showing what they know’ to ‘showing what they can do with what they know’ as they apply knowledge and skills.

What is the purpose of LAAs and PBAs?

The focus on shifting toward PBAs is prompted by a focus on culturally responsive, student-centered learning and equity by:

  • Providing learners creative ways to demonstrate learning
  • Approaching assessment as part of the learning process, rather than a separate, one-time event
  • Elevating student voice to support engagement and academic motivation 
  • Allowing teachers to have more in-depth information about student learning and progress to support responsive instruction 
  • Aligning with research and supporting learners with diverse needs
  • Supporting student growth in skills aligned with workforce needs and postsecondary success - our Portrait of a Graduate (POG) skills

What do families need to know about LAAs and PBAs?

  • LAAs measure student learning of the grade level content standards within classroom instruction throughout the school year.
  • Families do not receive a numerical score for LAAs, as they do for SOL tests.
  • Student progress and performance based on the LAA collection of evidence is communicated by the teacher/school. 
  • Students participate in PBAs as part of the LAA, aligned to the grade level content area. 
  • Information about PBAs is communicated by the teacher/school.

How can families talk with their students about PBAs?

There are many ways to support your student with their PBAs.

  • Encourage your student to embrace the role of a creator.
  • Ask your student to share their thinking about what they are creating.
  • Reinforce that PBAs are primarily about the process, and not the product. There is no one right answer — rather, PBAs are a chance for students to show what they are able to do with their knowledge and skills.
  • PBAs are scored using a common rubric that describes their demonstrated knowledge and skills. Encourage your student to use the rubric as a tool to guide their work and their reflection on progress.

Find out more about student assessments

Link to student assessment.

Find out about tests at each grade level

Link to grade level tests