Delaware Alternate Assessments
Assessments are an integral part of the instructional cycle and fulfill several purposes for educators, students, parents, policy makers, and community members. Assessments administered at the state, district/charter, and school levels combine to form a system of assessment with the goal of supporting student growth.
Delaware offers alternate assessments in English language arts (ELA)/literacy, mathematics, science and social studies for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. These assessments are designed to assess what students with disabilities know and can do based on the Delaware state standards. Delaware’s alternate assessments serve about 1 percent of the Delaware testing population. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires any SEA to obtain a waiver request when the total number of students participate in alternate assessments exceeds 1 percent. More information on the 1 percent threshold.
- Students tested: Eligible students in grades 3-8 and 11 (ELA, math) and grades 5, 8 (science) and grade 10 (biology)
- Test dates: Fall: September 13, 2021-December 17, 2021 and Spring: February 7, 2022-May 20, 2022
- Scoring: Students are scored using one of four Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs): emerging, approaching the target, at target, advanced. The scores are based determined by the DeSSA-Alternate Assessment Performance Level Category Ranges.
- State/district results: 2017 and prior-year data
- Test provider: Dynamic Learning Maps
- Test type: Uses a learning map model; students demonstrate knowledge, skills, and understanding to meet Essential Elements (EEs)
- Additional supports: Essential Elements (EEs) are grade-level-specific expectations about what students with the most significant cognitive disabilities should know and be able to do. EEs are related to college- and career-readiness standards for all students.
Delaware's Definition of a Student with a Significant Cognitive Disability
A student with a significant cognitive disability is one whose disability pervasively impacts his/her intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. Significant deficits in intellectual functioning result in the student requiring extensive direct instruction and substantial supports in order to make measurable educational gains. Significant deficits in adaptive behavior often result in the student being unable to develop the skills needed to live independently or to function safely in their daily life at home, in school and in the community. As a result, the student is learning academic content that is reduced in depth, breadth, and complexity.
Eligibility and Participation
Student eligibility for alternate assessments are determined by the student’s Individualized education program (IEP) team (per Title 1, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111(b)(2)(D)(ii)(I)—Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015).
IEP teams use the Accessibility Guidelines to help determine eligibility. Only students meeting these guidelines can participate in the state’s alternate assessments.
- Decision Tree: Alternate Assessment
Appendix B-3: DeSSA-Alt Participation Decision-Making ToolThe DDOE has developed an Alternate Assessment Decision-Making Tool in July 2021 based upon feedback from LEAs across the state and other stakeholder groups. This tool is meant to guide and support individualized education program (IEP) teams in determining whether a student is most appropriately assessed with an alternate assessment.
- Finalized 11/29/2021: Companion Guide for the DeSSA-Alternate Decision-Making Tool
- Guidance and Procedures for Implementing the Decision-Making Tool
Contains the accessibility features policies and procedures for the following assessments: English language arts (ELA)/literacy and mathematics, science and social Studies, end-of-course assessments (US History, Algebra II and Integrated Math III) and the alternate assessment (Alt-1) for reading, mathematics, science, and social Studies.
- The Accessibility Guidelines are now housed in Schoology. Contact Michelle Jackson for the access code.
Family and Educator Resources
- Parent Guide for the Alternate Assessment
- What Parents need to know about the Accessibility Supports on Statewide Assessments
- Guidance and Procedures for Administering the DeSSA-Alternate (COVID-19)
- DeSSA-Alt Fact Sheet
One-Pager for Parents providing information about the DeSSA-Alternate Assessment
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Provides more information on common questions for the DeSSA-Alt administration.
- Delaware's High School Diploma versus Diploma of Alternate Achievement Standards
A comparison chart outlining the differences between Delaware’s High School Diploma versus the Diploma of High School Achievement Standards.
An extensive list of resources for educators is available on the Delaware DLM website. Some of the educator resources include learning maps, tested essential elements lists, testlet information, videos, and professional development links.
- DLM Parent Brochure
- A Future of Opportunity Parent Flyer
- A Future of Opportunity Parent Flyer - Spanish
DLM's parent resource that shows students taking the alternate assessments have a range of academic skills that prepare them for jobs, education, and community involvement after high school. The resource also provides helpful information about what parents can do to support their child’s academic success.
- Testlet Information Page (TIP) Sheets
Allows teachers to prepare in advance of the spring testing window by providing manipulatives they can use during the test. Because DLM uses an adaptive delivery to assign a linkage level for each testlet, the materials needed to assess each student are otherwise unknown before the spring testing window.
- Assessment Blueprints
Describes essential elements and conceptual area coverage for students participating in alternate assessments
- Appendix B7: DeSSA-Alt Test Profile Characteristics
Use this to keep track of the test profile characteristics for students taking the alternate assessment. This form is not for accommodations or supports, but provides characteristics of the student’s testing profile to share with educators when the student changes teachers or schools.
- Delaware Comprehensive Portfolio Summary
Delaware state law requires that an alternate assessment, in portfolio format, be available to students with intense communication needs. DOE created the Delaware Communication Portfolio Summary (DCPS) to satisfy this requirement. DCPS is designed for students who – even with accommodations – cannot participate in the DeSSA-Alt because they do not have a consistent and reliable means of communication that is understood by others. The purpose of DCPS is to measure the development of these students’ communication skills throughout the school year. Contact the Office of Assessment at (302) 857-3391 for more information.