Special Education
March 29, 2011

Fact Sheet 9: Alternate Assessment for Students with Significant Disabilities

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 require all students with disabilities to be included in the state's assessment system. Title I of ESEA further requires that the assessment results for all students who have been enrolled in a school for a full academic year be used in calculating adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the district and the state. On December 9, 2003, the United States Department of Education (USDOE) released final regulations, effective January 8, 2004, clarifying the accountability provisions for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

This bulletin highlights information in a question and answer format on the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe disabilities and "Advice to Local Leaders." This information is excerpted from New York State Education Department (NYSED) and USDOE memoranda related to this topic.

Highlights of Federal Regulations Concerning Assessments for Students with Severe Cognitive Disabilities

Additional information on these changes is provided in the question and answer section of this document.

  • The IEP Team decides which students have "Significant Cognitive Disabilities"

Section 200.6(a) (2) (i) of the Code of Federal Regulations requires states to implement guidelines for individualized educational program (IEP) teams (called Committees on Special Education in New York State) so that they may determine which students require assessments based on alternate achievement standards. Please refer to Questions 3 and 4 for additional information on the IEP team responsibilities.

  • One percent cap now applies to AYP calculations for the State, District, and School

The Regulations include a provision that limits the number of proficient and "advanced" scores based on alternate achievement standards to 1 percent of all students in the grades tested. The new regulations, however, impose consequences for going beyond the 1 percent limit. Exceeding the 1 percent cap could impact a school’s ability to make AYP.

Section 200.13 (c) (7) (i) of the regulations requires that passing scores exceeding the cap must be relabeled as “not proficient.” Please refer to Questions 6 and 7 for additional information on AYP calculations.

  • Requirements for waiving the 1 percent cap

Section 200.13(c) (i) (b) of the regulations allows states and districts to request a waiver of the 1 percent cap, if they can document that they have an unusually large percentage of students with severe cognitive disabilities. States would apply to the United States Department of Education and districts would apply to the State Education Department.

Please refer to Question 6 for additional information on waiver requirements.

83991 NYSUT Research and Educational Services – 3/2011

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