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1. General Information About Idaho Alternate Assessments: This session is designed to provide an overview of information about Idaho Alternate Assessments. Other sessions will provide details about the processes used in the administration of the IAA.

2. Design Considerations : The Idaho Alternate Assessments (IAA) were developed in response to IDEA í97. As part of a goal for the statewide assessment system, they were designed to measure student progress toward the Idaho Achievement Standards. It was important for Idaho to ensure that all students with disabilities are working toward the quality of life desired by every citizen.

So the individuals that were involved in the development of the IAA all gathered around one easily understood goal: that the IAA be relevant and meaningful in the lives of students with significant disabilities. From this one goal, beliefs, guiding principles, and certain considerations were the foundation in the development process. The developers knew that the IAA had to:
*be sensitive to the unique needs of the population it was intended for,
*Have relevance, especially in natural instructional environments rather than always in the typical classroom setting,
*have instruction linked to the individualized education plans;


3. Design Considerations: Had to:
Be a team approach as much as possible because students often have many adults as teachers in their lives;
Be individualized enough to reflect growth as well as identify his or her needs.

This was no easy task but Idahoís educators were up to the task.

4. Description of the IAA: There are three alternate assessment scales: reading which focus on receptive communication standards, language/writing which emphasizes expressive communication and mathematics. A science scale that will include science and health standards is required by 2007.

Now, whether a student participates in these alternate assessments scales or whether they participate in the general education tests such as the IRI or ISAT depends of Idahoís alternate assessment participation guidelines.

5. IEP Team Decision: The decision to participate in the IAA is an IEP team decision. If a student meets the guideline criteria they may participate in any of the areas. In order to help the IEP team reach a decision, members should be familiar with the Idaho Achievement Standards and the content knowledge and skills as well as the alternate knowledge and skills. IEP members must consider the students abilities, post school goals, and individualized needs.

According to NCLB and IDEA, alternate assessments are designed for "students with significant cognitive impairments." Idaho has defined three criteria to be used in IAA particiaption determinations.

6. Participation Guidelines: The guidelines require IEP teams to have consensus in answering "yes" to all of the following three questions. Supporting documentation should be the basis of the "yes" answers.

Question Number 1: does the studentís demonstrated cognitive ability and adaptive behavior prevent completion of the general education curriculum even with program modifications. Letís think about what this question asks? It implies a demonstration of low cognitive ability and low adaptive behavior by the student even though a cognitive impairment disability or diagnosis is not actually required. Second, the Idaho Achievement Standards form the framework for the general education curriculum, therefore the IEP team should consider whether the student will be able to acquire the necessary content knowledge and skills in the general ed curriculum. Finally, modifications can include accommodations and adaptations that lead to completion of the general education requirements.

7. : Question Number 2: Is the studentís course of study primarily functional-skill and living-skill oriented (typically not measured by district and/or state grade level assessments)?
When IEP teams considers the answer to this question, members should first understand that this does not mean that the subjects of reading, language, and mathematics are not taught. Functional academics are critical for studentís with significant disabilities to achieve the quality of life they deserve. All students must be able to "read" for information and understanding even though some students may not demonstrate reading the same way as students do when they complete the general education curriculum. Another example, All students must be able to use language to express themselves even though some may not be able to express themselves the same way as measured by district or state assessments. So, the IEP team needs to make a decision on an annual basis whether the students course of study is more functional-skill and living-skill oriented when looking at post school outcomes.

8. : Question Number 3: Is the student unable to acquire, maintain, or generalize skills (in multiple settings) and demonstrate performance of these skills without intensive, frequent individualized instruction? The main points to be considered in this question is the student need for intensive, frequent re-teaching, and individualized instruction and whether the student has demonstrated difficulty in acquiring, maintaining, and generalizing skills across many environments, not just the school setting.

When the IEP determines "yes" answer to all three questions, a student may participate in the IAA in any of the three content areas. However, Yes answers do not necessarily mean that a student cannot participate in the general education assessments in areas where the student may demonstrate some unique strengths that will lead them to completion of the general education curriculum.

The IEP team needs to review the answers to all three questions annually at the development of the studentís annual IEP.

9. Factors Not Considered in IAA Eligibility: Factors that cannot be considered in the participation of the IAA are:
* If the only reason for participation is because the student has an IEP;
*If the student is unable to complete the general curriculum or needs intensive instruction or a functional course of student because of excessive absences or lack of instruction;
* If socioeconomic or cultural differences result in the need for individualized instruction or a program that will focus on daily living skills;
*If the student only has a learning disability. A learning disability implies the student has the cognitive ability and the adaptive behavior to be able to complete the general education curriculum with modifications.

After a studentís participation in the IAA is determined, there are three main tasks to be completed in the Spring to administer the IAA.

10. Summary of Alternate Assessment Process: The IAA process was designed to incorporate a team approach as much as possible because typically the student participating in the IAA have many "teachers" in their lives and they do not typically generalize and demonstrate all their knowledge and skills on demand during one time events. The sp ed teacher needs to ensure that 3 main tasks get accomplished in the spring of the assessment year.

The first task in the process is to align any of the studentís annual IEP goals and objectives with the alternate knowledge and skills on the rating scales that the student will be participating in. Another session of the training material will provide more details in completing this task and the other two.

11. Alternate Assessment Process: Second, after the IEP alignment has been completed, data and information is gathered and sometimes physically collected about the studentís level of achievement on the knowledge and skills that are aligned with IEPís as well as the knowledge and skills that are not linked to IEPís.

12. Alternate Assessment Process: The last task in the administration process is to analyze the student performance data and information and then rate the studentís achievement level, progress level, and level of importance for each alternate knowledge and skill on the scale. There are defined rubrics to use for each of the three ratings.

13. Timelines for Data Collection & Online Ratings: Given the three tasks that are involved in the IAA administration process, there are two timelines that guide the completion of the IAA. The first timeline is the period of time to collect data and information about student performance on the alternate knowledge and skills. The window for data collection is approximately March 1 to May1 which allows up to 8 weeks to gather information while students are demonstrating knowledge and skills in their environments.

The second timeline is for the online entry of the ratings. This occus during the statewide testing window which is between mid-April and mid-May.

The two different timelines allow at least 4 Ė 8 weeks before student ratings have to be entered online.

14. Timelines for Administration: There is a timeline for when the IAA is not given. Typically, if a student enrolls in a district after the administration of a statewide assessment, they do not participate in that assessment until the following year. However, there are some special considerations for student participation in the IAA. First of all, the test is not a 1 or 2 day event. The administration of the assessments require at a minimum, 4 weeks. In addition, students who are typically eligible to participate in the IAA have many difficulties with maintaining or generalizing knowledge and skills and a new environment only adds to the studentís difficulties. Students often need frequent reteaching in their new environment before the student is comfortable in demonstrating their present levels of achievement or progress. Therefore, if a student enrolls in a district after March 1, the alternate assessment process cannot be completed and the student would participate the following year if still enrolled. If a student enrolls in a new school within the district, the special education teacher should access data and information about the studentís level of performance from the previous teacher and cooperatively rate the student.

15. District Accountability for : The accountability system includes a plan to count all students. All students must be entered for the statewide assessments. Each assessment has a process. Special Education teachers for students participating in the IAA should be familiar with the appropriate coding procedures for their students and ensure that their results are included.

16. Coding Procedures for : The ISAT has coding procedures that begin with the record of all students in a class roster file. Then a special populations file is complete with three alternate assessment codes

17. ISAT Coding Procedures: The codes for the individual subject area are AAR, AAL, and AAM. If a student is participating in all three alternate assessment areas, each code is indicated. If a student only participates in one or two areas, then only those codes are indicated.

18. IRI, DWA, & DMA Coding: IRI protocols have the SE (Special Education) and AAR (alternate assessment reading) codes.
DMA and DWA has the SPE and AAL or AAM codes

19. Computer Requirements: The last piece of information in this overview pertains to general computer requirements that are necessary for the administration of the alternate assessment in Idaho. As of 2004, special education teachers need access to an IBM or IBM compatible computer. Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 5.0 or higher is needed to run the application.

Internet speed can be a source of problems. Check with district technology supports to ensure good connections through the district network. Encryption is set at 128-bit for security purposes.