What questions should Ms. Flores and Mr. Ericson ask the general and special education teachers?
Page 13: Alternate Assessments
As you learned earlier, states and local districts must develop guidelines for the participation of students with disabilities who cannot take part in state and district assessments in alternate assessments and report the performance of these students along with those of their non-disabled peers. State education agencies have a variety of policies concerning what alternate assessments are permitted and which students should be assessed.
Why Are Alternate Assessments Used?
Every student’s performance and progress should be accounted for, and alternate assessments offer a means of assessing the learning of students who cannot participate in the general assessments.
Who Uses Alternate Assessments?
In general, federal and state administrators agree that only students with the more significant cognitive disabilities should take an alternate assessment, about 1–2% of all students. These students usually have a different curriculum that is more life-skill oriented. You will need to check with your local district special education administrator and/or your state department of education to determine which alternate assessments are being used.
Examples of Alternate Assessments
The Iowa Department of Education has developed an alternate assessment for use with students with disabilities. This alternate assessment primarily applies to student work that is gathered by teachers, such as:
Listen now as Maggie McLaughlin gives a few additional examples of alternate assessments (time: 1:25).
Margaret J. McLaughlin, PhD
Professor, Department of Special Education
University of Maryland, College Park
Transcript: Margaret J. McLaughlin, PhD
An alternate assessment, as used in the IDEA and other law, refers to an assessment other than the standard assessment that has been designed or being given, administered to the general population. And it is typically thought of as any number of things. It could be a portfolio; it could be some sort of multiple choice test; it could be a combination of performance tasks—a portfolio of student’s work and some more traditional forms of assessment—but it is typically thought of, or at least referred to, as applying to only a small percentage or proportion of students with disabilities, usually those who have the most significant cognitive disabilities. And, in that use, the alternate assessment typically is also assessing a different set of standards, some people say a more functional, life-skill oriented, perhaps vocational, career. But it’s not the same knowledge or subject matter content that is being assessed in the state or district assessment.
Determine the percentage of students with disabilities in your state that participated in alternate assessments last year.