The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and 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 assessment.
The Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA) 2.0 is comprised of standardized performance tasks and is intended to provide tiered participation within the assessment for students working at various levels of complexity. The GAA 2.0 is designed to measure the degree to which students with significant cognitive disabilities have mastered alternate achievement standards in the core content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
- The GAA 2.0 is administered to all eligible students in the following areas:
- Grades 3-8, and high school will be assessed in English language arts and mathematics.
- Grades 5, 8, and high school will be assessed in science.
- Grades 8 and high school will be assessed in social studies.
This assessment provides meaningful information about classroom instruction and helps identify students’ areas of strength and improvement. 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 decision to assess using the GAA 2.0 is made by the IEP team after considering, responding, and providing rationale to the following eligibility questions:
Does the student require intensive, individualized instruction in a variety of instructional settings?
Does the student have a significant cognitive disability?
Does the student require specialized supports to access and participate in the grade-level Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) that require modifications based on the student’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP)?
Does the student require specialized supports to demonstrate age-appropriate adaptive behavior?