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Alternate Academic Achievement Standards: Essential Elements

Overview of Wisconsin Essential Elements

All students, including student with the most significant cognitive disabilities, deserve and have a right to a quality educational experience. This right includes, to the maximum extent possible, the opportunity to be involved in and meet the same challenging expectations that have been established for all students. To ensure students with the most significant cognitive disabilities have that opportunity, Wisconsin educators collaborated with educators from several other states in the Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium (DLM) to create alternate academic achievement standards called the Essential Elements. These alternate academic achievement standards are aligned to the Wisconsin Academic Standards. The Essential Elements have been created in the areas of English language arts, mathematics, and science.

The Essential Elements were developed to satisfy the requirement of the U.S. Department of Education that Wisconsin have alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities that are clearly linked to grade-level academic content standards, promote access to the general curriculum and reflect professional judgment of the highest expectation possible.

IEP teams are required to consider whether a student with the most significant cognitive disability should receive instruction to the general education curriculum aligned with the Wisconsin Academic Standards or in an alternate curriculum aligned with the Wisconsin Essential Elements. To make this decision, IEP teams can use the document Guidance for Determining Participation in General Education Standards and Curriculum, when filling out the sample IEP form I-4 IEP: Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance. This document guides the IEP team through a step-by-step decision making process to determine the most appropriate curriculum for that individual student.

Wisconsin has alternate academic achievement standards called the Wisconsin Essential Elements in English language arts, mathematics, and science. These standards are K-12 academic standards, are aligned with college and career expectations, include rigorous content, and application. For students to be college and career ready, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, educators should include instruction in both academic content, as well as the reading and writing skills needed to demonstrate learning in the other disciplinary areas.

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Science Standards Review Underway

Science Standards Review Underway

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a transparent and comprehensive process for reviewing and revising academic standards. The process began with a Notice of Intent  to review an academic area with a public comment period - this was begun on August 2nd, 2017 for ​Wisconsin Essential Elements​: Science. The State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council examines those comments and recommends whether to revise or develop those standards. The State Superintendent determines whether to move forward with a revision process or continue with the current standards. If a revision is determined to be needed, a state writing committee is then formed to work on revision or development of those standards for all grade levels. That draft is then made available for open review to get feedback from the public, key stakeholders, educators, and the Legislature, with further review by the State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council. The State Superintendent then determines adoption of the standards.

Wisconsin Essential Elements

Wisconsin has alternate academic achievement standards called the Wisconsin Essential Elements in English Language ArtsMathematics, and Science. These standards are K-12 academic standards, are aligned with college and career expectations, include rigorous content, and application. For students to be college and career ready, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, educators should include instruction in both academic content, as well as the reading and writing skills needed to demonstrate learning in the other disciplinary areas.

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781