Vermont Comprehensive Assessment System
The Agency of Education coordinates the implementation and administration of all components of the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS), including the development of alternate assessments. The Agency also identifies, analyzes, and reports on outcomes and data measured by the CAS.
Established by the State Board of Education in 1996, the Vermont Comprehensive Assessments System (CAS) evaluates student performance in the state's schools based on Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards, CCSS Essential Elements and English Language Development Standards with the goal of improving teaching and learning.
The Strengthening and Streamlining Local Comprehensive Assessment Systems: Guidelines and Support for Leadership Teams provides guidelines and resources to help educators in supervisory unions and districts develop a streamlined balanced local comprehensive assessment system (LCAS) for all students. This document was produced following a thorough review of literature and current practices in the field of student assessment by Agency of Education staff as well as educators in the field. It provides a synthesis of research and current policy, including the MTSS field guide and Education Quality Standards.
- Assessment Design for Broader, Deeper Competencies: Report 12 of the MyWays Student Success Series presents the evolution towards greater authenticity and multiple measures, and recommends the use of Five Assessment Strategies: formative assessment, performance assessment, multiple measures, badges and micro-credentials, and Quality reviews.
- Assessment Manifesto: A Call for the Development of Balanced Assessment Systems describes a vision for excellence in assessment that calls for practices that support the learning of all students, helping them to master required standards.
- Designing a Comprehensive Assessment System conceptualizes what a comprehensive system that is balanced and aligned might comprise, and identifies what actions states, districts, and schools can take to create a comprehensive assessment system.
- Not as Easy as It Sounds: Designing a Balanced Assessment System identifies and describes three essential criteria for a balanced assessment system: coherence, a theory of action, and efficiency.
- Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts supports a process by which districts evaluate the assessments students are taking, determine the minimum testing necessary to serve essential diagnostic, instructional and accountability purposes, and work to ensure that every district-mandated test is of high quality and used to improve outcomes for students.
- The Future of Assessment Practices: Comprehensive and Balanced Assessment Systems describes the components of an ideal comprehensive, balanced assessment system that includes formative assessment (within and between lessons), medium-cycle formative assessment (within and between instructional units), classroom summative assessment (grading), long-cycle formative assessment (several times during the school year), and district and state-level accountability assessment.
Performance assessments play a vital role in a proficiency-based system. Performance assessment templates for content areas as well as an interdisciplinary template are available below.
Performance Assessments Templates
Inclusive Practice Tool: The Accessibility Review from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can be used to analyze common assessments to determine if assessments and assessment items effectively address what is important for students to know, understand, and be able to do. This tool will help educators identify elements at the item-specific level that interfere with students’ ability to demonstrate their knowledge.
Screening Tool: The National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research has created an Academic Screening Tools Chart that can be used to identify students at risk for poor academic outcomes, including students who require intensive intervention.
The Vermont Physical Education Assessment
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to develop a State Accountability Plan that employs a variety of school quality indicators. Vermont’s ESSA State Plan includes Physical Education as one of four academic content areas to be assessed. Additionally, in the Education Quality Standards, Vermont has articulated a commitment to education and evaluation that supports the whole child, knowing that healthier students perform better in every other aspect of school. The VTPEA suite includes FitnessGram and the Alt-VTPEA assessments; the Brockport Physical Fitness Test and the Individual Fitness Assessment (IFA). The VTPEA will be used to collect data for all publicly funded Vermont students in grades 4, 7, and 9. The results will support state and local educators in promoting healthy, active student lifestyles.
The VTPEA Agency of Education Team has developed a number of resources to provide guidance around VTPEA test administration. The team recommends that educators administering the assessment read the VTPEA Test Administration Manual. The manual includes provides guidance for using the VTPEA considering students of all abilities. All test administration materials including the Alt-VTPEA development and reporting can be found at the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program portal.
Vermont takes a holistic approach to measuring school performance, and values measures besides standardized test performance. This includes school climate, which is linked to “attendance, achievement, retention, and even rates of graduation.” The Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) has adopted the US Department of Education's school climate survey, which we're calling the Vermont School Climate survey (VTCLIM, vee-tee-climb). The VTCLIM will collect school climate data that informs statewide and local-level continuous improvement efforts. Finally, the VTCLIM represents an unprecedented opportunity for student voices to make themselves heard at the state level in Vermont.
For more information, or to answer any questions, please contact AOE Help Desk or (802) 479-1044.
Michael Hock, State Assessment Director, (802) 479-1288
Pat Fitzsimmons, Local Comprehensive Assessment Systems, (802) 479-1425