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Abstract

In 2014, the Virginia legislature removed select standardized tests from elementary and middle school grades in social studies, science, and writing. In this case study, the author investigates the experiences of key stakeholders in one large school district as they adopt alternative assessment in lieu of multiple-choice, standardized assessments. The specific aim of the study was to develop a descriptive account of one large Virginia school district’s plan for implementation of locally developed, performance-based assessments. Findings on this contemporary topic document the collaboration among district stakeholders to enact alternative assessments that assess students’ content knowledge and higher-order thinking skills. Outcomes reveal participants’ initiatives to comply with legislative mandates while bridging policy with practice, alongside the benefits and challenges during design and implementation. Findings and discussion point to the division’s dispositions related to teaching and learning during the trial school year of 2014-2015. Implications for district leaders, policymakers, and researchers on national and international levels are provided.

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