The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) require that states ensure all students, including those with significant cognitive disabilities, have access to challenging academic standards and participate in the state’s assessment program. The U.S. Department of Education defines alternate achievement standards as establishing performance expectations that differ in complexity from grade-level achievement standards. These standards must be aligned with the state’s content standards, promote access to the general content standards, and articulate the highest achievement levels possible for the individual student. This means teachers may customize learning expectations for students who participate in alternate assessments.
For students with disabilities, each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines how the student shall participate in Georgia’s student assessment program. If a student’s IEP team determines that a student cannot meaningfully access the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, even with maximum appropriate accommodations, then the student must participate in the GAA 2.0.
The GAA 2.0 is designed to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities are provided access to the state academic content standards and given the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the knowledge, concepts, and skills inherent in the standards.
This assessment will provide meaningful information about classroom instruction and help identify students’ areas of strength and improvement through standardized tests. Unlike the original GAA, GAA 2.0 is not a portfolio-based assessment. Thus, it will measure students’ achievement and not progress. The GAA 2.0 will be administered to all eligible students in the following areas:
- Grades K, 3-8, and 11 will be assessed in English language arts and mathematics.
- Grades 5, 8, and 11 will also be assessed in science and social studies.
The GAA 2.0 will include standardized items with multiple access points. The intent is to reduce the teacher’s burden related to selecting or developing tasks; bring greater standardization to the administration; improve scoring reliability; and introduce an online task submission system.