Under ESSA, the number of students who may take the alternate assessment is limited to no more than 1.0 percent of the total number of all students in the State who are assessed in a given subject (i.e., reading/language arts, mathematics, and science). This 1.0 percent threshold is at the state level.
ESSA further requires state/districts must still meet the 95% participation rate for students enrolled in tested grades and that a school district exceeding 1.0 percent participation threshold in any subject must submit justification to the department. Justification may be submitted using the department’s new website application between October 28, 2019 and November 8, 2019 (directions for using the application). If an LEA exceeds the 1.0 percent participation threshold in any subject, they must provide professional development to their LEA on the definition of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Information needed to submit will be similar to the Verification Form PI-9550-AA (rev. 09-18).
Only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities may participate in the alternate assessment (DLM), and no student should take the alternate assessment unless they are also participating in the alternate academic achievement standards (Wisconsin Essential Elements). 34 CFR 200.6(a)(2)(ii)(B). In Wisconsin, a student with the most significant cognitive disability is defined as:
● typically characterized as functioning at least two and a half to three standard deviations below the mean in both adaptive behavior and cognitive functioning; and
● performs substantially below grade level expectations on the academic content standards for the grade in which they are enrolled, even with the use of adaptations and accommodations; and
● a student who requires extensive, direct individualized instruction and substantial supports to achieve measurable gains, across all content areas and settings.