Assessments for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities
This issue of NASET’s Q & A Corner will focus on assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Both ESSA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require all students with disabilities to be included in all state and districtwide assessments—including assessments required by ESSA—with appropriate accommodations. Students with disabilities must participate in the general assessments for their enrolled grade, with only one exception for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. For this small group of students, ESSA allows states to adopt alternate academic achievement standards and provide for alternate assessments aligned with the state’s challenging academic standards and alternate academic achievement standards. Participation in state assessments is critical if schools are to be held accountable for the progress of students with disabilities. It is important that students with significant disabilities are included in assessments so that their performance is measured and their instruction is targeted for improvement as needed.
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