Delaware System of Student Assessment (DeSSA) Alternate Assessments
Statewide Alternate Assessments for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities
In December 2015, the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA) was reauthorized with the adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). As with NCLB, ESSA regulations allow the use of alternate assessments, based on alternate achievement standards, for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
Delaware’s alternate assessment serves about 1% of the Delaware testing population. It is designed to assess what students with the most significant cognitive disabilities know and can do based on Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These alternate assessments meet federal requirements and mirror the general education assessments in content area and grade level.
Eligibility and Participation
The determination of eligibility is based on a team decision. Individualized education program (IEP) teams “shall determine when a child with a significant cognitive disability shall participate in an alternate assessment aligned with the alternate academic achievement standards.” (Title 1, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111(b)(2)(D)(ii)(I)—Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015).
Teams utilize the Delaware Accessibility Guidelines to help determine eligibility. Only students meeting the Guidelines are eligible to participate in the DeSSA-Alt assessments.
ESSA requires that no more than 1 percent of the total number of students in the state be administered alternate assessments. All local education agencies in Delaware submit data to the Delaware Department of Education, identifying the percentage of their students at the local level participating in statewide alternate assessments, however, there are currently no negative repercussions for the LEAs exceeding the 1 percent threshold.
Administration of the DeSSA-Alternate Assessments
DeSSA-Alternate (DeSSA-Alt) assessments measure academic progress in the areas of ELA, mathematics, and Science. The alternate assessments are administered individually, in a one-on-one student/teacher setting in an online and adaptive format, adjusting according to student needs. For the 2017-2018 school year, the assessment will take place within the March 12 – May 18, 2018 testing window.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, Delaware will join many other states in the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Consortium. Students participating in Delaware’s alternate assessment, DLM, will be assessed on grade-specific essential elements for ELA. Mathematics, and science. Practice testlets, blueprints, and additional resources are located on the Delaware DLM webpage. http://dynamiclearningmaps.org/delaware
ELA and Mathematics Alternate Assessment
Students participate in grade levels 3-8 and 11 in both ELA and mathematics. Essential elements and conceptual area coverage for ELA are documented in the ELA Blueprint.
Essential elements and conceptual area coverage for math are documented in the math blueprint.
Science Alternate Assessment
In science, the alternate assessments take place in grade 5, 8, and 10.
Essential elements and conceptual area coverage for science, with Biology, are documented in the science blueprint.
Performance Level Descriptors
The DLM Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) provide an overview of the knowledge, skills, and understandings demonstrated by students at specific levels of performance on DLM assessments. Not every student will demonstrate the skills described in each level. Rather, the Performance Level Descriptors provide descriptions of the types of knowledge, skills, and understandings that are typically demonstrated on DLM assessments by students at each level.
DLM Performance Level Descriptors in English Language Arts
DLM Performance Level Descriptors in Mathematics
DLM Performance Level Descriptors in Science
Optional Resources For Educators
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.
For Parents, Guardians, and Students
Dynamic Learning Maps ® (DLM ® ) assessments are designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities for whom general state assessments are not appropriate, even with accommodations. DLM assessments offer these students a way to show what they know and can do in mathematics, English language arts, and science. Information about accessibility, development, content, the learning map model, examples of testlets, the parent interpretive guide, and administration may be found at
DLM Assessment Window for Alternate Assessments
March 12- May 18, 2018
Contains the accessibility features policies and procedures for the DeSSA, DeSSA-Alt, WIDA Assessments and SAT. The complete guide includes all of the appendices. The manual without appendices is available below. In addition the guidelines are available by complete sections and as individual appendices.
Update 8/15/2019 - The complete manual is currently being updated for the 2019-20 School Year. Please access the Appendices under each Section for the 2019-20 School Year revised appendices