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Iowa's AYP Alternate Assessments 1%


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Iowa’s Alternate Assessments promotes fair measurement of student knowledge of the Iowa Core English Language Arts & Mathematics Essential Elements and Iowa Core Science Essential Concepts and Skills.  Iowa’s Alternate Assessments are for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose academic performance is appropriately judged against alternate achievement standards.

Content areas and grades are:

  • ELA: Grades 3-8, 10 and 11
  • Math: Grades 3-8, 10 and 11
  • Science: Grades 5, 8 and 11


Legal Requirements

The Alternate Assessment is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Legislation and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Eligibility Guidelines

The criteria for participation in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments 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 State Web IEP.

The following are not allowable (or acceptable) considerations for determining participation in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments.

  1. A disability category or label
  2. Poor attendance or extended absences
  3. Native language/social/cultural or economic difference
  4. Expected poor performance on the general education assessment
  5. Academic and other services student receives
  6. Educational environment or instructional setting
  7. Percent of time receiving special education
  8. English Language Learner (ELL) status
  9. Low reading level/achievement level
  10. Anticipated student’s disruptive behavior
  11. Impact of student scores on accountability system
  12. Administrator decision
  13. Anticipated emotional duress
  14. Need for accommodations (e.g., assistive technology/AAC) to participate in assessment process

The student is eligible to participate in Iowa’s Alternate Assessments if all responses below are marked Yes.

Participation Criterion Participation Criterion Descriptors Agree (Yes) or Disagree (No)? Provide documentation for each
1. The student has a significant cognitive disability.

Review of student records indicate a disability or multiple disabilities that significantly impact intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior*.

*Adaptive behavior is defined as essential for someone to live independently and to function safely in daily life.

Yes or No
2. The student receives instruction on the Iowa Core Essential Elements which are aligned to the Iowa Core Standards but are of reduced breadth, depth, and complexity. Goals and instruction listed in the IEP for this student are linked to the enrolled grade level Iowa Core Essential Elements and address knowledge and skills that are appropriate and challenging for this student. Yes or No
3. The student requires extensive direct individualized instruction and substantial supports to achieve measurable gains in the grade-and age-appropriate curriculum. The student
  1. requires extensive, repeated, individualized instruction and support that is not of a temporary or transient nature and
  2. uses substantially adapted materials and individualized methods of accessing information in alternative ways to acquire, maintain, generalize, demonstrate and transfer skills across multiple settings.
Yes or No


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 Emily Thatcher, IDOE Alternate Assessment Consultant at for guidance on assessment requirements for students who are receiving homebound services or attend shortened school day.

Not testing certain students will affect a local school district’s participation and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) rates. 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.

The DLM ELA & Math alternate assessment is a yearlong instructionally embedded assessment, 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.


Iowa’s AYP Alternate Assessments

Beginning fall 2014, Iowa’s AYP Alternate Assessments for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities will be the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) ELA & Math for grades 3-8, 10 & 11 and the Iowa Alternate Assessment Science (IAAS) for grades 5, 8, & 11.

For more information regarding Iowa's AYP Alternate Assessments please visit DE webpage:

The DLM assessment is supported by the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE), University of Kansas and is a computer delivered/computer adapted assessment.

DLM integrates student assistive technology and is a year-long instructionally embedded assessment that includes a year-end summative assessment.

The IAAS, Iowa’s current science alternate assessment, will have no changes in assessment administration.


Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)

DLM WInter Assessment Window Phase C Description

Iowa's DLM Timelines & Requirements 2014-2015 Revised

Iowa's DLM ELA Integrated Assessment Model Test Blue Print 2014-2015

Iowa's DLM Math Integrated Assessment Model Test Blue Print 2014-2015

Next Generation Alternate Assessment

The adoption of the Iowa Core required the State of Iowa to develop a new alternate assessment aligned to the Iowa Core English Language Arts & Mathematics. In this effort, Iowa joined Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM), a 17-state member consortium.

The DLM assessment consortium is guided by the core belief that all students should have access to challenging grade-level content which is reflected in the Iowa Core Essential Elements for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Learning Maps

A learning map is a network of sequenced learning targets. Often, we think of learning as one skill building on another single skill. A dynamic learning map, by comparison, shows a learning landscape in which multiple skills are related to many other skills. Dynamic learning maps not only show the relationships between skills but also show multiple learning pathways. Instead of assuming that all children learn a skill in the same way, allowing for multiple pathways recognizes that there are alternate ways to learn the same skill. By using dynamic learning maps as the basis for assessments, the DLM system will give teachers a clearer view of each student's knowledge.

Kinds of Skills Included in the Learning Maps

  • Tested Subject-Specific Skills. These skills include things like knowing a vocabulary word or being able to solve a multiplication problem.
  • Related Precursor Academic Skills. These are the underlying skills necessary to master the tested skill. For example, to solve a multiplication problem, a student first needs to understand what numbers are, be able to order numbers, etc. For each grade-level skill that is tested, there are numerous precursor skills.
  • Communication Skills. These are skills that allow students to communicate their answers. Communication skills are not limited to speech, but include a variety of things like pointing or nodding.
  • Attention Skills. Before a student can show knowledge of a particular subject, the student must first be able to focus on the task or item presented.

By mapping these and other types of skills, learning maps allow students to show what they do know rather than simply cataloging what they don’t know.

Instructionally Embedded Assessment

The Dynamic Learning Map Alternate Assessment System uses items and tasks that are embedded in day-to-day instruction. As these embedded items and tasks are given to a student, the student’s learning is mapped throughout the year. Because of this, testing and teaching happen at the same time. This gives teachers the opportunity to see what students know during the year when teachers still have time to change instruction to better support student learning. 

Instructionally Relevant Items

Over the last two decades, we have learned that when accountability is determined through testing, teachers will teach to the test. Therefore, it is important to create tests that are worth teaching to. The new DLM assessments are built using items that model good instruction.

Other Key Features

  • Dynamic assessment
  • Universal design
  • Evidence-centered design including cognitive labs
  • Structured scaffolding


The DLM system is created to be accessible for students with a variety of disabilities including significant cognitive disabilities, students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students who are blind or have low vision, and those who have neuromuscular, orthopedic, or other motor disabilities. Tests will be flexible enough to accept a variety of responses, such as:

  • Keyboard-entered responses
  • Drag-and-drop responses that use the mouse to sort or label
  • Responses using touch-screen technology (when available)

The system will also be compatible with a variety of assistive technologies commonly used by students. It will also be flexible enough to allow for varying levels of teacher assistance.

For more information regarding Dynamic Learning Maps assessment visit

Dynamic Learning Maps ELA & Math and Iowa Alternate Assessment Science Review - This webinar provides a review of the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) ELA & Math and Iowa Alternate Assessment Science (IAAS) Assessment, information regarding the DLM Field Test A, and the supports available to teachers in their alternate assessment administration activities.


DLM Parent's Brochures





Serbo Croatian




DLM Assessment Administration Yearlong Test Blueprints, Timelines & Requirements


For Information regarding DLM Assessment Administration visit Iowa's DLM webpage:

Go to: Assessment - Operational Test - Select State - IA


Iowa Alternate Assessment Science (IAAS)

Assessment Administration Process

Step 1: IDOE emails Security Access Codes for new users to register for an account in the IAAS Online System to District IAA Coordinators

  • District AA Coordinators sends Access Codes to new teachers to the IAAS Online System
  • District AA Coordinators ensure building administrators have a registered account in the IAAS Online system

Step 2: District AA Coordinators Review District/Building IAA Roster & IMS

  • Ensure accurate student participation in the Iowa Alternate Assessment Science

Step 3: Teachers complete required IAAS training

Step 4: Teachers enter student profile activities into the IAAS online system

  • Ongoing Student Data Verification
  • Teachers manually update student activities throughout the year (add & remove students from rosters/enter in student performance data)

Step 5: Teachers enter student performance data into the IAAS Online System for each reporting period

Step 6: IAAS Online System generates student reports

Step 7: Adequate Yearly Progress determinations


IAAS Process Timelines & Requirements

Assessment Window

September 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015 - Instruct and gather evidence on 15 items per content area assessed in the IAAS.

Beginning of the Year Timeline and Activities

District IAA Coordinator

August 25, 2014—September 1, 2014

  • New District AA Coordinators register for an account in the IAA Online System
  • To register for an account go to
  • Returning District AA Coordinators verify & update their account in the IAA Online System
  • District AA Coordinators create & update building administrator accounts
    • Verify/update/and create new building administrators accounts in the IAA online system


September 1 - September 30, 2014

  • Complete IAAS Online Training
    1. Go to
    2. Login (or register as a new user).
    3. Select the course catalog from the menu in the upper left
    4. Select the Science Alternate Assessment Training from the menu and click on the register button
    5. Verify district information and begin the training.

The IAA Online Training is also open for administrators and other school personnel who support the educational programming of student with significant disabilities. Contact Emily Thatcher at for technical assistance with this training.

IAAS Online Training.pdf

  • View the IAAS Tutorials located on the homepage of the IAA online system
  • Update or register for new accounts in the IAA online system
  • Print off IAAS Rating Scales located on the DE IAA webpage for each content area assessed
  • Determine Mastered items on the Rating Scales for each student on the Mastery Checklist
  • Select 15 items to report progress on (5 rating scale items for each reporting period).
  • Complete Student Profile Activities



Assessment Reporting Periods & Rating Scale Requirements

Iowa Alternate Assessment Science (IAAS) for Grades 5,8 and 11
1st Reporting Period
September 1- November 15
2nd Reporting Period
November 16 - January 30
3rd Reporting Period
February 1 - April 30
*Required Number of Rating Scale Items *Required Number of Rating Scale Items *Required Number of Rating Scale Items
5 5 5
* Teachers select Rating Scale Items within the IAAS Online System Student Profile.



The score reporting process is three times a year. Teachers are expected to report on 5 items per content area rating scales assessed per reporting period. Prompted or a performance score is reported on each item for each reporting period. Any item left blank will result in exclusion for that student in performance and participation. Exclusions may be appealed through the Department.

Summative Scoring

Scores earned across each reporting period are summed together to generate the summative score.  The summative score determines levels of proficiency for Adequately Yearly Process (AYP) determination.   Depending on the performance level of the student, individual rating scale scores are converted into points (1-3). Prompted performance results in one point. All other performance is rated in percent accurate and converted to a 3 point scale to generate a summative score which will determine levels of proficiency. As part of the ongoing process for continuous improvement, teachers should be part of their school’s data team to analyze the data for areas of strength and concerns, as well as to plan for future instruction.

IAAS Rating Scales

Science 5 Rating Scale 2014-2015

Science 8 Rating Scale 2014-2015

Science 11 Rating Scale 2014-2015

Glossary of Assessment Terms

Glossary of Terms Related to the IAA Rating Scale Terms - Provides operational definitions and instructional descriptions for the verbs included in the rating scale items.


AEA Significant Disabilities Coordinators

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

AEA Name Email Address
Keystone AEA 1 Anne Faber
AEA 267 Kim Neal
Prairie Lakes AEA 8 Kris Taphorn
Mississippi Bend AEA 9 Brian Foy
Grant Wood AEA 10 Tina Hoffman
Heartland AEA 11 Keri Steele
Northwest AEA 12 Cindy Baird
Green Hills AEA Ron Russell
Great Prairie AEA 15 Alan Schwarte

Urban Education Network Significant Disabilities Coordinators

Cedar Rapids CSD Rosemary Hays
Council Bluffs CSD Becky Zorn
Davenport CSD Amy Clayton
Des Moines CSD Rebecca Coppess‎
Des Moines CSD Becky Curry‎
Des Moines CSD Alyson Finley
Des Moines CSD Laurel Friedman
Des Moines CSD Nichole Heidemann
Des Moines CSD Maria Metge
Des Moines CSD Robert Van Dorin
Dubuque CSD Lori Anderson
Sioux City CSD Lisa-Ann Johnson
Waterloo CSD Susie Lund
Waterloo CSD Larry Martin

Supporting Documents


Assessment Administration

IAAS DLM Administration Chart

Iowa's AYP AA Year at a Glance 2014-2015

Assessment Coordinator Calendar

Data Steward Calendar

Educator Calendar

Technology Liaison Calendar

IAAS & DLM Administration Chart

Instructional Support

Administrator Walk Through

Iowa Core ELA and Math Essential Elements

The DLM assessment consortium is guided by the core belief that all students should have access to challenging grade-level content which is reflected in the Iowa Core Essential Elements


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

IAA FAQ 2014-2015


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 08, 2015 at 3:00am.