Idaho believes in high standards for all students, including students with disabilities. The overwhelming majority of students with disabilities can take the general assessment with the appropriate accommodations. For students with the most significant, cognitive disabilities for whom the general assessment is not appropriate, the administration of the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAS) may be appropriate with accommodations.

The Special Education and Assessment departments collaborate to inform schools and parents on the educational trends related to standards-based instruction, classroom assessments materials, and accessibility options.


There are two different ways students with a disabilities may be included in state assessments:

Take the same assessment taken by all students, with appropriate accommodations that may be needed. Or, take an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS).


These assessments are dramatically different from each other in what they measure and which students they are designed for.

General assessments (This is the assessment that all students take). Some students with disabilities might use accommodations just as they do during instruction, such as extra time. This assessment is based on achievement standards aligned with academic content standards for the student’s enrolled grade.

Alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS). This assessment is designed to assess a very small number of students with disabilities – those with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Unlike the general assessment, this assessment may include a more targeted sample of priority grade-level content standards and may include substantially simplified content. It is based on alternate achievement standards that differ in complexity from the grade-level achievement standards. This assessment typically requires a familiar examiner to assist the child in accessing the test.

The alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) is only appropriate for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Students who can and should be meeting grade-level standards must be taking the general assessment in order to improve their chances of earning a regular high school diploma and reaching their future college or career goals.

A student is eligible for the alternate assessment if:

1. The student has demonstrated cognitive ability and adaptive behavior that prevents completion of the general academic curriculum even with program accommodations and/or adaptations;

2. The student’s course of study is primarily functional-skill and living-skill oriented (typically not measured by State or district assessments); and

3. The student is unable to acquire, maintain, or generalize skills in multiple settings and demonstrate performance of these skills without intensive and frequent individualized instruction.

IDEA Part 300.321 states that a child with a disability should participate as a member of the IEP team whenever appropriate. Additionally, this same part requires documentation that a transition age student (age 16-21) has been invited to any meeting where post-secondary goals and transition services are discussed. It does NOT require the student to attend the meeting, but when they are not present schools must take steps to consider the student’s preferences and interests.

While not required, it is ideal for transition age students to actively participate in their special education meetings and where appropriate influence the development of the IEP. From an early age schools should provide self-advocacy instruction and support that promotes a student’s understanding of their disability, strengths/needs, and IEP process so that they can better advocate for themselves and maximize independence.



Register now for the Idaho Assessment On-Site Regional Training coming to Pocatello, Boise/Nampa, and Coeur d'Alene in February 2017.


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    Contact Us

    Karlynn Laraway

    Statewide Assessment Coordinator - INTERIM
    Idaho State Department of Education
    P.O. Box 83720 Boise, Idaho 83720
    (208) 332-6824

    Kendrick Lester

    Special Education Statewide Assessment Coordinator - INTERIM
    Idaho State Department of Education
    Phone: 208-332-6918 

    sde Idaho State Department of Education
    650 W. State Street
    PO Box 83720
    Boise, ID 83720-0027