Introduction

Welcome to the ITC Assessing Students with Disabilities Statewide webpage. Idaho believes in high expectations and achievement for every student, including students with disabilities. One element of having high expectations for students with disabilities is having them participate in statewide assessments. The expectation is that every student with a disability participate in all statewide assessments. This expectation focuses an IEP team’s assessment participation decision not on IF the student will participate, but HOW the student will participate. A student with a disability can participate in statewide assessments in one of three ways:

1. General assessment without accommodations
2. General assessment with accommodations
3. Alternate assessment (intended only for those students with the most significant cognitive impairments).

The Special Education and the Assessment and Accountability Departments collaborate to inform schools and parents about the educational trends related to standards-based instruction, classroom assessment materials, and accessibility options. The purpose of this webpage is to provide information and resources related to how students with disabilities participate in Idaho’s statewide assessment system.

This webpage is organized in the four sections described below:

  • What's New – This section includes new information as it becomes available. Check this section frequently to learn about any exciting news or upcoming events. Information in this section will move into other relevant sections as it ages.
  • FAQs - This section includes some frequently asked questions and should be the first place you go for answers. The FAQs section is open to expansion as other frequently asked questions become apparent.
  • Links - This section includes links to assessment resources, both inside and outside of the Idaho State Department of Education.
  • Assessing Students with Disabilities Statewide Resources - This section includes webinar recordings, training materials, resources, and other documents relevant to implementing Idaho statewide assessments for students with disabilities and meeting the 1.0% cap on Idaho Alternate Assessment participation.

     


What's New?

(August 18, 2020) IDAA Science Portfolio Retires: The IDAA Science Portfolio retired last spring. This year, qualifying students will take the online IDAA Science independent field test in grades 5, 8, and 11.

(August 18, 2020) IDAA Practice Tests: Say goodbye to the SC alternate assessment practice tests we used last year. We are pleased to announce new IDAA Practice Tests! The new IDAA Practice Tests are expected to go live on August 24. More details to come.

(August 14, 2020) A three-part module series to help teachers understand the power of the Extended Content Standards Core Content Connectors (CCCs), unpack the CCCs, align instruction to the CCCs, and collaborate with their general education peers now available. The 'Crosswalk' modules include case study examples and practical tools for immediate use.
 

FAQs

The expectation is that every student with a disability participate in all statewide assessments in one of the following ways: without accommodations, with accommodations, or with an alternate assessment (only for those students with the most significant cognitive impairments). It is important to understand that an IEP team does not have the authority to exempt a student with a disability from participating in statewide assessments. Listed below are Idaho’s statewide assessments with comments about how students with disabilities participate.
 
  • College Entrance Exams: Most students with disabilities take the state-sponsored SAT with or without accommodations to meet the college entrance exam graduation requirement. Schools may independently arrange ACT or ACCUPLACER testing for students with disabilities as an alternative option. Very few students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who meet the alternate assessment participation criteria are exempt from the college entrance exam graduation requirement. A student and his/her IEP team should always discuss the student’s participation in the college entrance exam and the allowable accommodations.

  • Idaho Reading Indicator: The IRI is administered to all students in kindergarten through 3rd grade in the fall and spring of each school year.  Most students will disabilities will take the current IRI without accommodations, although the IRI Test Administration Manual (TAM) outlines universal tools and designated support that can be used by any student. The IRI TAM contains accommodations guidance specific for students who are deaf and hard of hearing or have a visual impairment including blindness in Appendices E and F, respectively.  Idaho does not currently have an alternate IRI for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. However, districts may choose to administer an alternative literacy assessment to these students, which can determine the student’s current literacy skills and guide IEP teams in developing literacy-based IEP goals and objectives. Core Phonics is one example of an alternative assessment for use with students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Alternative literacy assessments will not produce early literacy equivalent ratings, nor are these ratings submitted to the SDE through the ISEE test results file.  For more information about the IRI, visit the Idaho Reading Indicator page on the Assessment and Accountability website.

  • Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) Comprehensive Assessment System: Students take the summative ISATs in English/Language Art (ELA) and Math in grades 3-8 and 10 each spring. Students take the ISAT in Science in grades 5, 8, and 11.  Almost all students with disabilities, about 99%, take the ELA and Math ISATs with or without disabilities.  Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, about 1%, may take the Idaho Alternate Assessment (IDAA) if the student meets the IDAA participation criteria.  See IDAA below.  For more information about the ISAT, visit the ISAT Comprehensive Assessment System page on the Assessment and Accountability website.

  • Idaho Alternate Assessment (IDAA): Some students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, about 1.0% of the general student population, may participate in the Comprehensive Assessment System by taking the IDAA. Students must qualify for the IDAA by meeting all four of the IDAA participation criteria, as outlined on the IDAA Participation Worksheet, which are discussed during a student’s IEP meeting. Qualifying students take the IDAA at the same time and in the same grades as their peers take the ISAT: ELA and Math in grades 3 – 8 and 10; Science in grades 5, 8, and 11. The IDAA in ELA and Math are new online, computer adaptive tests this year. Scores for the IDAA ELA and Math will not be available until August 2021. It is important to note that the IDAA Science Portfolio is retired and will not be administered during the 2020-21 school year. This spring, qualifying students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will participate in the online IDAA in Science independent field. No scores will be reported for this independent field test. For more information about the IDAA, visit the Special Education and Alternate Assessment page on the Assessment and Accountability website.
     

A comparison of the ISAT and IDAA is outlined below. Specific information related to accommodations on the ISAT and the flexibility of the IDAA are discussed in subsequent FAQs.

ISAT IDAA
The ISAT assesses a student’s grade-level performance based on the Idaho Content Standards. The IDAA assesses a student’s grade-level performance based on the Idaho Extended Content Standards.
Most all students with disabilities (about 99%) take the ISAT without or with accommodations. Only those students with the most significant cognitive disabilities may qualify to participate in the IDAA. Qualifying a student for the IDAA is an IEP team decision, based on the IDAA participation criteria.
The ISAT is administered in large or small groups, although some students may test in a separate room from their peers. The IDAA is administered individually, with a familiar adult facilitating a student’s participation in the assessment.
The ISAT is taken by students without accommodations or with a specific set of standard accommodations and designated supports. The IDAA allows for flexible administration based on the student’s individual needs.

The IDAA measures student achievement on the Extended Content Standards. The Extended Content Standards are aligned with the Idaho Content Standards, but have been reduced in depth and complexity. The Extended Content Standards are located on the Idaho Content Standards webpage under each relevant content; ELA, Math, and Science.

The IDAA is intended only for those students with the most significant cognitive impairments, representing about 1% of the total student population. Significant cognitive impairment is defined as follows:

A designation given to a small number of students with disabilities for the purposes of their participation in AAs. Having a significant cognitive impairment is not solely determined by an IQ test score, nor based on a specific disability category, but rather a complete understanding of the complex needs of a student. Students with significant cognitive impairments have a disability or multiple disabilities that significantly impact their adaptive skills and intellectual functioning. These students have adaptive skills well below average in two or more skill areas and intellectual functioning well below average (typically associated with an IQ below 55) ( Idaho Special Education Manual, 2018, p. xii).

A student’s IEP team uses four criteria to determine if a student qualifies for the IDAA at the annual IEP team meeting. The student must meet all four criteria to qualify for the IDAA, which are listed below. Once a student qualifies, he/she will take the IDAA in all content areas. The four IDAA participation criteria are listed below:

  1. The student has a significant cognitive impairment.
  2. The student is receiving academic instruction that is aligned with the Idaho Extended Content Standards.
    1. The student’s instruction and IEP goals/objectives/benchmarks address knowledge and skills that are appropriate and challenging for the student.
  3. The student’s course of study is primarily adaptive-skills oriented, typically not measured by state or district assessments.
    1. Adaptive skills are essential to living independently and functioning safely in daily life, and include, but are not limited to motor skills, socialization, communication, personal care, self-direction, functional academics, and personal health and safety.
  4. Adaptive skills are essential to living independently and functioning safely in daily life, and include, but are not limited to motor skills, socialization, communication, personal care, self-direction, functional academics, and personal health and safety.
    1. The student consistently requires individualized instruction in core academic and adaptive skills at a substantially lower level relative to other peers with disabilities.
    2. It is extremely difficult for the student to acquire, maintain, generalize, and apply academic and adaptive skills in multiple settings, across all content areas, even with high-quality, extensive/intensive, pervasive, frequent, and individualized instruction.
    3. The student requires pervasive supports, substantially adapted materials, and individualized methods of accessing information in alternative ways to acquire, maintain, generalize, demonstrate, and transfer skills across multiple settings (Idaho Special Education Manual, 2018, pp. 84-85).

There are also 14 non-participation criteria which should not be used as the basis for qualifying a student for the IDAA. Students shall not qualify to participate in the IDAA solely based on any of the following reasons:

  1. Having a disability
  2. Poor attendance or extended absences
  3. Native language/social, cultural, or economic differences
  4. Expected poor performance or past basic/below basic performance on the regular education assessment
  5. Academic and other services a student receives
  6. Educational environment or instructional setting
  7. Percent of time receiving special education services
  1. English Language Learner (ELL) status
  2. Low reading level/achievement level
  3. Anticipated disruptive behavior
  4. Impact of student scores on the accountability system
  5. Administrative decision
  6. Anticipated emotional distress
  7. Need for accommodations (e.g., assistive technology/AAC) to participate in the assessment (Idaho Special Education Manual, 2018, p. 85).

All English language learners (ELs) are required to take the ACCESS assessment, unless they have exited the program. Accommodations are available to ELs with disabilities when specified on the student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan and when the student requires the accommodation(s) to participate in the ACCESS in a meaningful and appropriate way. The IEP or Section 504 team should meet and review the accommodations and supports allowable on the ACCESS prior to testing. It is the IEP team’s responsibility to choose appropriate tools, supports, and accommodations based on the student’s needs and what is allowable on the ACCESS and/or specific language domain(s). Visit the WIDA Accessibility and Accommodations webpage to download the WIDA Accessibility and Accommodations Supplement for specifics on ACCESS allowable accommodations.

WIDA offers the Alternate ACCESS for EL students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Only those EL students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who meet all of the IDAA participation criteria are permitted to take the Alternate ACCESS, as determined by the student’s IEP team. The IDAA participation criteria are outlined in the How does a student qualify for the IDAA? FAQ above.

The student’s IEP and EL teams should work closely to determine how ELs with disabilities will participate in the ACCESS. The person able to solicit the best responses from a student should administer the assessment.

IDAPA Rule 08.02.03 Rules Governing Thoroughness Section 111 ASSESSMENT IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS addresses how students with disabilities are expected to participate in statewide assessments.

IDAPA 08.02.03.111.04. Testing Population. All students in Idaho public schools, grades kindergarten through ten (K-10), are required to participate in the comprehensive assessment program approved by the State Board of Education and funded. (4-6-05)
 
a. All students who are eligible for special education shall participate in the statewide assessment program. (4-6-05)
b. Each student’s individualized education program team shall determine whether the student shall participate in the regular assessment without accommodations, the regular assessment with accommodations or adaptations, or whether the student qualifies for and shall participate in the alternate assessment. (4-6-05)

Some students (with or without disabilities) may only be exempt from statewide testing as described in IDAPA Rule 08.02.03 Rules Governing Thoroughness Section 112 ACCOUNTABILITY

IDAPA 08.02.03.112.05.e Participation Rate.
 
i(2) Students who are absent for the entire state-approved testing window because of medical reasons or are homebound are exempt from taking the ISAT if such circumstances prohibit them from participating. Students who drop out, withdraw, or are expelled prior to the beginning of the final makeup portion of the test window are considered exited from the school. (4-7-11)

 

Assessing Students with Disabilities Statewide Resources

Contact Us


karren streagle, ph.d.

Alternate Assessment/Low Incidence Disabilities/Medicaid Coordinator
Special Education Department
Phone: 208-332-6824
kstreagle@sde.idaho.gov


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