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- Testing Accommodations
- Alternate Assessments for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
- Alternate Assessments Update
- Eligibility Guidelines
- Exemption Policy
Determining Supports for Learning and Performance for all Students - Describes the practices and procedures, determined by the IEP Team, in the areas of presentation, response, setting, or timing/scheduling that provide equitable access for students with disabilities during instruction and assessment.Back to top
Alternate Assessments for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
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.Back to top
Alternate Assessments UpdateBack to top
Iowa's Alternate Assessments 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.Back to top
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 email@example.com 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.Back to top
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
Keystone AEA 1
Central Rivers AEA 267
Prairie Lakes AEA 8
Mississippi Bend AEA 9
Grant Wood AEA 10
Heartland AEA 11
Northwest AEA 12
Green Hills AEA 13
Great Prairie AEA 15
Urban Education Network Significant Disabilities Coordinators
Cedar Rapids CSD
Council Bluffs CSD
Des Moines CSD
Iowa City CSD
Sioux City CSD
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 Alternate Assessment FAQs (2023-24) - Provides answers to frequently asked questions of Policy and Guidance and components of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment.
DLM Assessment Windows for 2023-24
The DLM Assessment is an instructionally embedded assessment that includes fall and spring assessment windows. Each window includes two (2) phases.
- Phase 1: Sept. 11 - Oct. 27, 2023
- Phase 2: Oct. 30 - Dec. 22, 2023
- Phase 1: Feb. 5 - March 22, 2024
- Phase 2: March 25 - May 17, 2024
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 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.
Iowa's Alternate Assessments Participation Guidelines - 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 2022-2023 - Provides answers to frequently asked questions of Policy and Guidance and components of the Assessment.
K-6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Timeline for 2023-24
The K-6 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment has three (3) assessment windows:
- Instructional/Artifact Collection Window: Aug. 28 - Sept. 29, 2023
- Reporting Window: Sept. 18-29, 2023
- Instructional/Data Collection Window: Oct. 2, 2023 - Feb. 2, 2024
- Reporting Window: Jan. 22 - Feb. 2, 2024
- Instructional/Data Collection Window: Feb. 5 - May 31, 2024
- Reporting Window: May 13-31, 2024
Join the Alternate Assessment 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.Back to top