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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



Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)


Next Generation Alternate Assessment



DLM Parent's Brochures





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DLM Assessment Administration Yearlong Test Blueprints, Timelines & Requirements





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


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)



Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 28, 2015 at 10:04pm.