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ERIC Number: ED600721
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Oct
Pages: 118
Abstractor: ERIC
2018-19 Participation Guidelines and Definitions for Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Academic Achievement Standards. NCEO Report 415
Thurlow, Martha L.; Lazarus, Sheryl S.; Albus, Deb A.; Larson, Erik D.; Liu, Kristin K.
National Center on Educational Outcomes
States continue to navigate the shift that came with the 1% threshold on participation in alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS). This shift, following the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, limited participation in the AA-AAAS to students with the "most significant cognitive disabilities." Although states need to maintain the threshold on participation in AA-AAAS, they are not allowed to infringe on the decision making of individualized education program (IEP) teams. To assist IEP teams in their decision making, states have attempted to create clear definitions, guidelines, and decision-making tools. This report provides an updated review of state criteria and guidelines for participation in AA-AAAS. The authors analyze state criteria for participation and factors not to use as the basis of decision making, as well as how states define students with the "most significant cognitive disabilities." As the resources on state websites have increased, topics covered have expanded to include other information found in the criteria and guidelines: information for parents/guardians, English learner (EL) considerations, and exemptions from participation in the AA-AAAS. This report also compares current findings to results from the previous review, conducted in 2017. There was an overall increase in information available for this review, including nearly twice as many states with an explicit definition of students with the "most significant cognitive disabilities" or "significant cognitive disabilities" (N=36, compared to N=17 in 2017). Although findings showed that the top participation criteria states use and listed not to use, as well as the definition components of students taking AA-AAAS, did not substantially change from the previous report, there were additional criteria and factors found that reflected broader topics (e.g., consequences of the decision). This report also addresses whether there are substantive differences between some states' definition of "most significant" cognitive disabilities and other states' definitions of simply "significant" cognitive disabilities. Finally, the authors summarize the growing body of training materials and tools provided by states to help local IEP teams make decisions for student participation in AA-AAAS.
National Center on Educational Outcomes. University of Minnesota, 207 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsburg Drive Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Tel: 612-626-1530; Fax: 612-624-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (ED/OSERS), Research to Practice Division (RTP)
Authoring Institution: National Center on Educational Outcomes; Applied Engineering Management Corporation (AEM); Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE); WestEd
Grant or Contract Numbers: H326G160001