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5th Grade Virginia Studies VGLA?
Old 01-23-2006, 03:11 PM
 
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Any other 5th grade teachers struggling with VGLA (Virginia Grade Level Alternate Assessment) for Virginia Studies? I especially could use some help with Jamestown. This is an alternate assessment where we collect a portfolio of evidence in place of multiple-choice, standardized tests. Thanks for any and all help!!


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Where are you?
Old 01-24-2006, 04:26 PM
 
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I was just wondering where in VA you teach. I teach in Fairfax County and we teach VA studies in 4th grade. I thought a majority of the state did it that way.
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I'm in the Shenandoah Valley...
Old 01-25-2006, 02:27 PM
 
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Some of our schools divide VA Studies between fourth and fifth. Like fourth grade teaches up through Revolutionary War, then fifth grade picks up at Civil War and goes to 20th century. At my school we teach it in fourth and then all over again in fifth. Kids never seem to remember much from the year before. The fifth grade has the S.O.L. test for VA Studies in May, so we feel responsible for that material.
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Old 02-11-2006, 06:45 PM
 
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I am also struggling with the VGLA for my 5th graders in science and Va Studies. I'm having to recreate opportunities to gather evidence since they didn't collect last year. The other problem I'm having is that a lot of what is being done in the regular classrooms is multiple choice. I don't want to submit that unless it has been modified. Despite my requests to regular ed teachers in Sept. a lot went home in the bookbag. I'm pulling students individually and doing interviews or anecdotal observations of skills.
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Richmond City Teacher here
Old 02-19-2006, 11:42 AM
 
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VGLA is being abused here in Richmond.
We had 225 last year, and now we have, according to Downtown Personel, we have 1700!

Kids in Speech are being 'selected' for the program.

I have two in my class who passed 2 out of the 3 Nine Weeks Assessments!
They can take, and pass, a multiple choice type assessment.
This program is being abused in RPS as far as I am concerned.

Rick


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Sick of VGLA
Old 03-06-2006, 01:50 PM
 
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I don't know who came up with this but it is the biggest headache. There is no way I'll cover all the topics they want me to. Oh, I am glad as the dickens I don't have 8th Sci. or I would not have a hair left. This does nothing to evaluate the child, it simply keeps them from the SOL which is another sore spot. God I wish I could just Teach!
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Old 03-06-2006, 05:35 PM
 
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Mason,

You are SOO right on this!
The kids aren't being taught that do VGLA. They are told/given worksheets that are SOL related, and told to do them until they get a high enough score to be considered for thier 'binder'. Afterall, having the students redo them until they get the right answers isn't against the rules, it is allowed. It's legal, it's reteaching!

What a joke this VGLA is.

oIw
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Old 04-14-2006, 06:11 AM
 
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I am not a 5th grade teacher,but sixth and I have a ton of VGLA's todo. Apparently my school is did not do well last year on AYP so now we are VGLA almost every special ed kid in the sixth grade. They aren't going get everything done. It just won't happen. I have spent my entire spring break working on it. I hate the darn thing.
I am refusing to have kids redo sheets. I have 14 student do work with for social studies, 6 for reading and 6 for math. I don't have the time to have them redo them, besides none of the kids are willing to, they put even less effort into the sheets the second time around.
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Old 04-25-2006, 04:42 PM
 
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I am at a point now where I don't care if they write me up for insubordination.

I REFUSE to do this crud after my contractual hours have been met. The kids in my room passed the 3rd Nine Weeks assessments, which are in multiple choice format, but those scores don't count because they are VGLA.

I asked my Principal when I was supposed to finish the books since I can't get any time off of work without taking personal time. He told me to just "get them done."

They are due May 1. I don't care if they are done, or not. The scary thing about VGLA is that the stench of corruption for this program runs ALL the way to the top of the State Education Dept. No matter whom it was I spoke with, no one has taken a stance against VGLA EXCEPT for teachers.

It is a dangerous and non-educational instrument being used to dummy up test scores. That is all it is.

Rick
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I support the VGLA
Old 04-28-2006, 04:51 PM
 
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I have been tearing my hair out working on my VGLA binders for the last 3 months. I am tired and frustrated with the labor intensive process. I think there has to be a better way to do them next year, but I'm just learning. My first binder was the worst. I have a system down now and I have ideas for how to simplify the process for myself next year. My biggest frustration is with the crappy multiple choice busy work that I've seen come out of regular education classrooms. I think these portfolios can drive teachers to be more creative and offer more open ended format activities that actually require kids to think. I think these kids really need this option and that if we throw our energy into figuring out how to produce a product that is honest and full of quality evidence, we wouldn't be so hostile. Educators across the state have been whining about how the SOL has killed the creativity of teaching and that standardized testing isn't a true picture of quality learning. We have taken a step back in the right direction if you ask me. Thank god my students don't have to waste the last two months before the SOL practicing slashing the trash on released test after released test anymore. We are actually learning and applying skills through memorable hands on activities. My students are learning to love learning again. They deserve to be seen as whole children, not little multiple choice test taking machines. Ding dong the scantron is dead!


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Old 04-30-2006, 06:57 PM
 
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Let's see how you feel AFTER they come back scored.

BTW, I don't disagree that there are students that CAN benefit from VGLA, but here in Richmond the number of VGLA students grew from 225 last year to over 1700 THIS year, including students whose only need was for speech!

As stated in an earlier post, VGLA is being abused. From a personal and professional standpoint, VGLA is being done at the expense of the majority of the classes.

Ofcourse, as teacher of Exceptional Ed, you may have a differing point of view than someone who is a Reg. Ed teacher who has to do both VGLA AND standard SOL testing. Try doing both. It sucks.

oIw
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I do both VGLA and the SOL
Old 05-01-2006, 06:30 PM
 
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Your instructional goal should be the same regardless of the assessment method. They don't have to be taught separately. The activities that will satisfy the evidence requirement for VGLA will help prepare your SOL test kids as well. That is the whole point. Are you doing the VGLA binders for 504 kids or IEP kids? For IEP kids the case manager should be assembling the binders. I will be spending the testing window days reading the SOL tests word for word over and over again to 4th and 5th graders while recording the testing sessions to verify that I haven't read the test with any inappropriate assistance or accommodation. I am also in the middle of writing IEPs for next school year for 3rd graders moving to 4th grade, 4th graders moving to 5th grade, and 5th graders transitioning to the middle school. I'm more than immersed in the stress and chaos of all aspects of the SOLs and 36 page IEPs. I still think your negative view is a waste of energy.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:01 PM
 
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Cburyn,

Forgive me, but I don't think you contradicted any of the points that I brought up.

"I still think your negative view is a waste of energy." My principal who has threatened to write people up for insubordination agrees with you.

And yes, the classroom teachers are the ones putting together the books for ALL..and I mean ALL students who have 504's or VGLA's.

"Your instructional goal should be the same regardless of the assessment method. They don't have to be taught separately."

Instructional goals, yes, should be the same. Yes, they do have to be taught separately. The Richmond City Curriculum Compass has a recommended time-line of objectives that we have to cover. Those objectives need to be taught before a 9 week period is over. Why? Because of the 9 weeks assessments that are given. My VGLA students, btw, have passed the 2nd and 3rd Nine weeks assessments. Sorta disproves the belief that they couldn't pass the SOL tests.

VGLA books are due next week. There are still objectives that need to be taught, based on the RPS Curriculum Compass. How can VGLA books contain ALL of the objectives that students need to be taught when there is still time left in the school year???

Last year's VGLA for 5th grade needed to include 4th AND 5th grade SOLs. How, praytell, does anyone accomplish all of those SOL's in the 5th grade during that time frame? Answer, we didn't. This year, we need to include 4th and 5th grade Science objectives. When, praytell, are those objectives supposed to be covered during the 5th grade school year? And I mean ALL of the 4th grade objectives? Please explain to me how TWO years worth of SOLs are to be covered during ONE school year?

"For IEP kids the case manager should be assembling the binders."
OL. From your lips [keyboard?] to God's ears.

My opinion, and we're entitled to disagree, is that VGLA is a fraudulent way to get around SOL testing.

I wish you well with the IEP's that you will be doing.

oIw
Rick

Last edited by RickOBrien; 05-03-2006 at 03:08 PM..
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The requirements are the same as for the SOL
Old 05-04-2006, 06:08 PM
 
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I don't understand why you're talking about the cummulative nature of the VGLA as though it is different than the cummulative nature of the SOL. We have to document the same SOLs being tested on the SOL test. Yes, that means 4th and 5th grade science SOLs. You should be reviewing the 4th grade SOLs with your entire class. They will be on the SOL test. SOL tests are also given before the school year ends. Most of our teachers are in review mode since our tests are administered in two weeks.

The writing for grade 5 is now cummulative for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade SOLs. Fortunately, we can use the 5th grade level of a skill to infer the mastery of the lower grade related SOLs.

I don't believe the VGLA is fraudulent. It may be abused in the same way the SOL can be administered fraudulently. That doesn't mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water.

I don't believe they need to be taught separately. We are following a pacing guide based on 9 weeks benchmark tests. My students are exposed to the material in the same time frame. They should be exposed to it in a variety of ways so that an assessment piece can be collected that demonstrates their mastery while playing to their strengths. Why do you insist that they have to be taught separately?

Are you collecting evidence or completely organizing and submitting the binders? What is the involvement of the special ed teacher in the process for IEP kids?

I turned in 14 out of my 21 binders today. I've not done anything for 3 months but the VGLA. There has to be a better way to do them, but I'm not ready to declare them a fraud and drag my students back to inappropriate assessment practices. It has been torture for me, but I think my students deserve a chance to feel successful. They do know the material. I don't think they're getting "around" the SOLs at all.

If you have students who consistently demonstrate mastery of skills in multiple choice style assessments with allowable accommodations, they shouldn't be VGLA candidates. I think divisions will tighten up on their selection of students for VGLA after they finish paying all the scoring teams to score them this year. I hear VA Beach has 2,000 to score. There is a learning curve on this for all of us.
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:57 PM
 
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Ok....lemme tell ya about my school...as we really aren't all that far apart on things...

"I don't understand why you're talking about the cummulative nature of the VGLA as though it is different than the cummulative nature of the SOL. We have to document the same SOLs being tested on the SOL test. Yes, that means 4th and 5th grade science SOLs. You should be reviewing the 4th grade SOLs with your entire class. They will be on the SOL test. SOL tests are also given before the school year ends. Most of our teachers are in review mode since our tests are administered in two weeks."

Richmond City doesn't begin SOL testing for another 35 calendar days. So that means, since our VGLA books are due Monday, that the VGLA students, who are done for the year, will be reviewing with the rest of the class, but who know they are done for the year. Execeptional Ed kids in a reg ed class who know that there scores are done for the year. Can you predict the behavioral problems that can arise?
In math, we are still covering 5th grade SOLs. In Science, yes, we are reviewing now. But since the VGLA books are due on Monday, reviewing now doesn't help the VGLA students.

"The writing for grade 5 is now cummulative for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade SOLs. Fortunately, we can use the 5th grade level of a skill to infer the mastery of the lower grade related SOLs." Writing is writing is writing. No problems there.

"I don't believe the VGLA is fraudulent. It may be abused in the same way the SOL can be administered fraudulently. That doesn't mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water."
No, do not throw out the baby with the bathwater, and yes, the VGLA in Richmond is being abused. And yes, in our building we have a teacher who is known for administering the SOL test fraudulently, but since her scores are great, people have turned a blind eye.

"I don't believe they need to be taught separately. We are following a pacing guide based on 9 weeks benchmark tests. My students are exposed to the material in the same time frame. They should be exposed to it in a variety of ways so that an assessment piece can be collected that demonstrates their mastery while playing to their strengths. Why do you insist that they have to be taught separately?"
Previously explained. For further illustration, our Exceptional Ed Coordinator publicly stated in March that if she were doing VGLA her books would have been DONE by now. Gee..what about all of those other pesky SOLs that needed to be taught?

"Are you collecting evidence or completely organizing and submitting the binders? What is the involvement of the special ed teacher in the process for IEP kids?"
Yes, as the classroom teacher in our building, we are ALL responsible for the VGLA kids in our rooms. Giving, collecting, grading, redistributing for reworking of the paperwork, organizing and submitting the binders to our VGLA Oversight Team, which has only just these past 2 weeks kicked itself in to high gear. Then, reworking, reorganizing and resubmitting the binders to the Oversight Team who pick it apart again. All the while we are also responsible for our regular ed kids. I do not do VGLA work at home or after my hours are done. I have a family and a life outside of work, as shocking as that is to some. Our Special Ed teacher has been slammed with IEP meetings and has been of little to no help. My Exceptional Ed students have not received services in WEEKS, and I mean more than 1 month's worth of services. How about your students? Are they receiving their legally required services while you have been putting together, organizing and working on those wonderful binders? How much family time, relationship time have you lost because of VGLA? Our differences about VGLA could simply boil down to where our priorities lay.

"I turned in 14 out of my 21 binders today. I've not done anything for 3 months but the VGLA. There has to be a better way to do them, but I'm not ready to declare them a fraud and drag my students back to inappropriate assessment practices. It has been torture for me, but I think my students deserve a chance to feel successful. They do know the material. I don't think they're getting "around" the SOLs at all."

First and foremost, GOD BLESS YOU for all that you have done for those binders. I hope that you still have hair, unlike me..lol.
We agree...there has to be a better way to do them. I AM ready to declare them a fraud when the method of grading them is VERY subjective and dependent on the expertise/training of the person grading them. When a human being is involved in judging student work, it will ALWAYS be subjective.
Feeling successful? How about BEING successful because they earned a grade, same as every other student. Please, don't get me on a rant about worrying about 'feelings'. Students feel better when they know they have EARNED something like the rest of the students. Now, with that being said, I have found that a majority of the students that have been in VGLA [NOT Exceptional Ed classes, but were in MY class and were VGLA...] did not NEED VGLA OR to be labeled for Exceptional Ed. Why were they in there? Behavioral issues. Issues that I didn't have with them.
And here in Richmond, where the number of VGLA student binders EXPLODED from 225 to over 1700, VGLA IS being fraudulently used.

"If you have students who consistently demonstrate mastery of skills in multiple choice style assessments with allowable accommodations, they shouldn't be VGLA candidates. I think divisions will tighten up on their selection of students for VGLA after they finish paying all the scoring teams to score them this year. I hear VA Beach has 2,000 to score. There is a learning curve on this for all of us."

That's what I said about my students. That's what several of us said about our VGLA students. But when the principal MAGICALLY appeared at IEP meetings [where he NEVER used to show up] that concerned changing VGLA, he brow beat, cajoled and out and out LIED to parents about VGLA.
He had one parent so flustered that the parent didn't know WHAT to do after he said loudly, "You don't want your child to be a failure now, do you?"
And we agree; the two students in my room who are doing a total of 7 VGLA books between them and have passed several of the 9 weeks assessments WITH THEIR ACCOMODATIONS should NOT be doing VGLA. But I'm in the minority on that one. Go figure.
As far as a learning curve with this...my time is more important to me than a learning curve for a program that is being used fraudulently in Richmond City Public Schools.

This is a great discussion, and I am enjoying exchanging opinions with you.
What system do you work for? How long have you been teaching?

oIw
Rick

Last edited by RickOBrien; 05-06-2006 at 02:37 AM..
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More VGLA Debate
Old 05-06-2006, 09:51 AM
 
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I am on the Eastern Shore and have been teaching elementary special education for 11 years. I started with self contained severe behavior problems and have developed a full inclusion program where I team teach with a regualr ed teacher.

My students have actually been spending more time with me than their IEPs call for in the last 3 months because I have had to pull them, reteach, and recreate opportunities to produce evidence on the entire year's worth of SOLs. I have instructional assistants who are also assigned to provide support in various regular ed classrooms.

I serve 4th and 5th grade. I had 4 fourth graders do VGLA for reading and math, 2 fifth graders do VGLA for all five subjects, and 1 fifth grader do VGLA for everything except science or VA studies. I made the decision to do VGLA based on my students' needs. I don't think 4 fourth graders and 3 fifth graders is excessive. I didn't feel any pressure to do it. Our other elementary school didn't do any VGLAs. I think the desire to jump on board with so many VGLAs is motivated by the quest to make AYP under NCLB. I'm not looking at it that way.

I do feel that my students earn their grades. If they weren't producing products that show mastery of the SOLs, I wouldn't have anything to put in the binders. I don't think we're patting them on the head without asking them to "earn" their grades at all. I find it heartbreaking to see them do so well all year and then feel defeated when they don't succeed on the SOL. Life isn't multiple choice. I don't think that performing well on multiple choice assessments is a reasonable expectation for all students. That doesn't mean that I don't have high expectations for them either.

I have spent an unreasonable amount of time on my binders. I wish my regular ed teachers had been of some help. The only one who saved work and paid attention to what we needed to produce was the teacher I coteach with. The binders have been my sole responsibility. I have told our director that next year I'm going to have to schedule case management and VGLA time every week. I may provide direct services 4 days a week and handle the case management and VGLA on the 5th. I agree that there has to be time within the work day to accomplish all that we have to accomplish. I have a husband, 4 boys, and a life of my own as well.

I do think that divisions are starting to choke on the expense of paying in house scoring teams to score the mountains of binders. I would imagine we'll see a tighening up on criteria for next year.

I'm surprised to hear that you don't test until so late in the year. What level to you teach? We are testing the week after next. I would suggest not telling your VGLA students they are done for the year. They still have grades and report cards coming.

I think there is entirely too much discussion with parents and students about the SOLs. We should be talking about the skills they need to progress in academics and how those skills will apply to the real world later in life. It really isn't all about the SOLs. That is what has created an environment where teachers feel the need to push the limits. I have previously told my administrators that I feel we have "...become whores to the SOL test. It may pay the bills now, but at the end of the day we've lost our integrity." I do think VGLA can lead us back to teaching kids to think and problem solve instead of take apart mulple choice assessments all day every day. I think that would be good for "all" students.
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Old 05-06-2006, 09:57 AM
 
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Have you used http://www.solpass.org? It is a great resource for science and social studies. All students could benefit from the activities on the site. I have used it to produce a lot of evidence for my VGLA students. It really helps review those 4th grade science and VA Studies SOLs.
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:06 PM
 
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virginiasol.com and solpass.org are great sites.

Look, VGLA books were finally collected today. The year of VGLA is over.

One school in Richmond kept their teachers until 9:30 on Monday night and 10:30 last night! Amazing!! Can you understand now why VGLA is so hated??

But, it is now over. Thank God.

oIw
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I Thought I Was Finished
Old 05-20-2006, 07:35 PM
 
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I turned in all 21 of my VGLA binders and I was ready to celebrate. Now I've been drafted to sit on a scoring team. I really didn't care to look at any of these things so soon. Of course I'm not scoring my own. My team has scored 5 of them so far. Scoring them has been a lot easier than putting them together. I really think that we'll see tighter guidelines next year. I know what I can do next year to make the process less painful. I still think my students needed this option. I don't know how else they could have demonstrated that they actually know the material. My biggest issue I've had while scoring is that a majority of the evidence has been multiple choice format. I don't think that we should be submitting multiple choice format evidence that hasn't been altered (ex. reducing choices to 2 options). The whole reason for doing the VGLA is we said they couldn't do multiple choice. I can't believe we'll get away with submitting binders full of evidence to the contrary. I've been busy diving into my neglected IEP paperwork and reading the SOLs outloud to my other students. I'm looking forward to summer in a big way.
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Old 05-21-2006, 03:17 PM
 
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And therein lies another problem with the VGLA....subjective scoring.

Once a person is involved, their beliefs take over and take precedent. Even if you have three, four or five people grading, there is no standardized scoring system.

VGLA needs to be tightened up. It really does.

Rick

Last edited by RickOBrien; 05-22-2006 at 03:26 AM..
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VGLA Results
Old 08-31-2006, 06:04 PM
 
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I haven't received a written report yet, but I'm told that 18 out of the 21 binders I submitted passed. Several even scored advanced. I was pleased. I won't be doing any VGLAs this year because I have changed positions, but I will be assisting the new special ed teachers with building a system for compliling evidence.
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Explain the abuse
Old 10-13-2006, 05:02 PM
 
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Rick, I need to understand the VGLA ASSESSMENT. I recently was told my class portfolios were VGLA quality and I was not sure what that implied. ( You may have had the opportunity to view them at a recent staff meeting) Perhaps you could enlighten me.
Your friend and former NYer
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Old 10-30-2006, 06:14 PM
 
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Noodles,

VGLA Assessment is easy....have a student do work that you can assess, except it CANNOT be in Multiple Choice format. Matching column's, fill in the blanks, usage of word banks, etc...are all fine and dandy with VGLA, and, to be honest, aren't all that bad an idea.

It is the part where students are allowed to do the same work over and over and over again until they get it right, and THEN you use that final piece in the students portfolio. That, and the fact that RPS created rules and then changed them when the wind blew, really aggravated me to the point of tremendous frustration.

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Vgla
Old 06-17-2007, 07:25 PM
 
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After reading through the above comments I am not looking forward to the upcoming year. Out of 40 students, 14 of the rising 5th graders are VGLA.. Why? Because someone wanted them all to pass in 3rd grade,,, did they? No, they turned in the same work and something like only 3 out of 12 passed. Honestly, this is insane. Our "testing coordinator" actually told us that it was the reg ed teachers job to do it all... along with conferences, report cards, etc. etc.

I will be looking long and hard at the scores from the 4th grade binders and if they do not pass, then I am going to push really hard to let the kids take the test. It would be easier to absorb the numbers.

Thanks for the chance to vent and all of the information from the other teachers.... I'm keeping my fingers crossed...
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VGLA help
Old 01-17-2008, 07:51 AM
 
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I am a regular ed. 5th grade classroom teacher and am brand new to VGLA. I have two students participating in this alternative assessment for Reading and Math. Can you send me some materials and ideas to use for Reading?
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Left Standing
 
 
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8th Grade VGLA English & Science
Old 02-27-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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I have to agree that this VGLA stuff is the biggest mess I've ever been involved with in my whole life (and I've been teaching for years with a Masters). It is really turning me against teaching. Well, I shouldn't even call what I do anymore teaching----all I do is read those SOL's and try to create some type of material that demonstrates whatever it says. Most all regular ed. material is created to improve the students test taking multiple choice skills----so for them to think we can just pull material from what regular ed. teachers are doing is just a joke. I keep telling myself that one day this too will pass----but I'm beginning to wonder if there will be any of us left standing whenever it does!
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:21 PM
 
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If the students passed multiple choice tests that "simulate" the SOL tests and they are in sped, then have an addendum doen asap.. They really should not do the VGLA because someone is afraid they won't pass the real SOL test. The VGLA is harder than the SOL tests are and if everyone of your sped kids is given teh accomodation formatted to meet individual needs and allowed the accomodation writes in test booklet or respinds verbally, then they have to be tested in a one-to-one setting--albeit--there will be 2 tape recorders goinng--but kids who can pass multiple choice tests should not be doing the VGLA.
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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Well I have you beat there--try doing 3 vaaps, a third grade math vgla and third grade reading vgla for mentallly retarded kids and then do the 5th grade SOL tests, too! Lucky me! I have the best of all worlds. I agree with the teacher who said the VGLA can drive some teachers to do more creative teaching--right! But time is an element here...And--more inservice needs to be done to teach regular ed teachers to give tests that aren't all multiple choice --but, that's right--if we don't teach kids how to bubble...and on it goes...
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Special Ed.
Old 10-05-2008, 01:40 PM
 
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Try using the interactive notebook for Virginia Studies. Its format allows for student documentation of knowledge. Also, ttac online has SOL enhanced lessons for students with special needs that might be helpful. Hope this helps!
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VGLA Response
Old 10-22-2009, 05:40 AM
 
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It depends on where you teach. Each divsion has the option of assessing the VA Studies info in 4th or 5th grade. Some divisions divide up th einstruction, but others make a choice based on the reading level of the test. If the reading level is too difficult (perceived) for a division's 4th graders, they will wait and give the assessment in 5th grade. That is one of the reasons I have heard in the past.
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