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Iowa's Alternate Assessments for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that all students, even those with the most significant cognitive disabilities, have access to the general education curriculum. The Iowa Alternate Assessments are for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose academic performance is appropriately judged against alternate achievement standards. They promote fair measure of student knowledge of the Iowa Core English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science Essential Elements.

Iowa uses two assessments to measure the achievement of students that participate in the alternate assessments. The Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Assessments for ELA and math are year-long instructionally embedded assessments and assess English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics in Grades 3–11. Science is a year-end assessment for Grades 5, 8, and 10 with assessments available during the fall as well as the required spring assessment. The Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (EL AA) will be used to meet the Early Literacy screening and progress monitoring requirements. This assessment has been state-approved for children with significant cognitive disabilities.

Eligibility Guidelines

Iowa's Participation Guidelines – The criteria for participation in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments for both the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) and the State of Iowa's Early Literacy Alternate Assessment - the Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment reflect the pervasive nature of a significant cognitive disability. IEP teams must select the alternate assessment as the only option for all subject content areas assessed. Students who participate in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments will not participate in Iowa Assessments. Participation guidelines are programmed into the IowaIDEA-Web IEP application.

Exemption Policy

Every student is to be tested, even those who receive homebound services or attend a shortened school day. District Assessment Coordinators should contact Jennifer Denne, Alternate Assessment Consultant, at jennifer.denne@iowa.gov for guidance on assessment requirements for students who are receiving homebound services or attend shortened school day.

The DLM ELA and Math Alternate Assessments and the Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K–6 Literacy Alternate Assessment - Iowa are year-long assessments, so to say, “we need to exclude this student from the testing window,” means the student is being excluded from participation in the Iowa Core, which is documented as non-compliance and illegal. The DLM Science alternate assessment is a year-end assessment that measures student outcomes of year-long science instruction.

There is no opt-out option for assessment participation. The only decision an IEP team can make is which type of assessment the student will participate: either the general assessment or the alternate assessment.

AEA and UEN Support

Area Education Agency (AEA) and Urban Education Network (UEN) Significant Disabilities Coordinators provide technical assistance and support in implementation of the Iowa Core Essential Elements and Iowa’s Alternate Assessments.

Area Education Agency Significant Disabilities Coordinators

AEA Name Email Address
Keystone AEA 1 Laura Smith lsmith@aea1.k12.ia.us
Central Rivers AEA 267 Rochelle Richards rrichards@centralriversaea.org
Prairie Lakes AEA 8 Tiffanie Zaugg tzaugg@plaea.org
Mississippi Bend AEA 9 Patrick Judkins pjudkins@aea9.k12.ia.us
Grant Wood AEA 10 Tina Hoffman thoffman@gwaea.org
Heartland AEA 11 Marty Ikeda mikeda@heartlandaea.org
Northwest AEA 12 Patty Kann pkann@nwaea.org
Green Hills AEA Ron Russell rrussell@ghaea.org
Great Prairie AEA 15 Angelisa Fynaardt angelisa.fynaardt@gpaea.org

Urban Education Network Significant Disabilities Coordinators

District Name Email Address
Cedar Rapids CSD Anne Faber afaber@crschools.us
Council Bluffs CSD Dawn Bonsall dbonsall@cbcsd.org
Davenport CSD Amy Clayton claytona@davenportschools.org
Des Moines CSD Lisa Wiese lisa.wiese@dmschools.org‎
Des Moines CSD Laurel Friedman laurel.friedman@dmschools.org
Dubuque CSD Lori Anderson loanderson@dbqschools.org
Iowa City CSD Jay Beaver beaver.jay@iowacityschools.org
Sioux City CSD Kim Neal nealk@live.siouxcityschools.com
Waterloo CSD Megan Allen allenm@waterlooschools.org

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)

DLM assessments are computer-based and serve the small proportion of the student population (1%) with significant cognitive disabilities for whom general state assessments are not appropriate, even with accommodations. DLM assessments offer these students in Grades 3 through 11 a way to show what they know and can do.

Learn more about DLM Alternate Assessments.

Iowa’s DLM webpage contains assessment supports and materials for Iowa District Alternate Assessment Coordinators, District Data Stewards, Technology Liaisons, and Test Administrators.

Dynamic Learning Maps FAQs 2021–2022 – This document provides answers to frequently asked questions of Policy and Guidance and components of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment.

DLM Assessment Windows for 2021–2022

The DLM Assessment is an instructionally embedded assessment that includes fall and spring assessment windows. Each window includes two (2) phases.

Fall

  • Phase 1: September 13, 2021 – October 29, 2021
  • Phase 2: November 1, 2021 – December 17, 2021

Spring

  • Phase 1: February 7, 2022 – March 25, 2022
  • Phase 2: March 28, 2022 – May 20, 2022

Iowa's K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (EL AA)

The DLM Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (EL AA) is intended to provide a developmentally appropriate, naturalistic approach to progress monitoring beginning in the fall of kindergarten and extending through the end of sixth grade. The assessment is designed to provide schools with the alternate assessment they need to include students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to meet the universal screening and progress monitoring requirements.

Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Guidance

Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Flow Chart of Options – Provides initial guidance for IEP teams in the determining participation in the in the Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment.

State of Iowa’s eligibility guidelines for participation in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments (2015-12-15) – Individual Education Program (IEP) teams are required to use this document for student participation in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments. This document is programmed within the IowaIDEA-Web IEP application.

Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment FAQs 2021–2022 – Provides answers to frequently asked questions of Policy and Guidance and components of the Assessment.

The Dynamic Learning Maps Aligned K-6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment - Iowa Manual

K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Timeline for 2021–2022

The K-6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment has three (3) assessment windows:

Fall

  • Instructional/Data Collection Window: August 30, 2021 – October 1, 2021
  • Reporting Window: September 20, 2021 – October 1, 2021

Winter

  • Instructional/Data Collection Window: October 4, 2021 – February 4, 2022
  • Reporting Window: January 24, 2022 – February 4, 2022

Spring

  • Instructional/Data Collection Window: February 7, 2022 – June 3, 2022
  • Reporting Window: May 16, 2022 – June 3, 2022

Join Our Community

The Iowa Department of Education hosts a Google Site specifically for educators and administrators that work directly with Iowa's Alternate Assessments, including DLM Instructional Resources and Test Blueprints, and the DLM Aligned K–6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Manual. If you are interested in joining our community, contact Jennifer Denne at jennifer.denne@iowa.gov.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 27, 2021 at 6:25pm.