Idaho believes in high expectations and achievement for every student, including students with disabilities. One element of having high expectations for students is having them participate in statewide assessments. The expectation is that every student with a disability participate in all statewide assessments, with very few exceptions. This expectation focuses an IEP team’s assessment decision NOT on whether or not a 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

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 provide information and resources related who students with disabilities participate in Idaho’s statewide assessment system.

This webpage is organized into five sections:

  • Introduction – The first section provides a brief overview and describes the organization of this webpage.
  • 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 that should be the first place you go for answers.   The FAQs section is open to expansion as other frequently asked questions become apparent .
  • Resources – This section includes folders of documents relevant to implementing Idaho statewide assessments for students with disabilities .
  • Contact Us - Provides contact information should you have any questions or comments.


What's New?

(June 14, 2019) New IDAA participation criteria take effect on July 1, 2019. You will find the new participation criteria and definition of significant cognitive impairment in the 2018 Idaho Special Education Manual. You will find a video recording and the IDAA Participation Worksheet in the IDAA Participation Criteria Training Resource.

(June 14, 2019) The ACCUPLACER assessment will no longer be available to students with disabilities as a substitute for the College Board SAT assessment.  Teachers, counselors, and students are encouraged to investigate the Accommodations on College Board Exams website in preparation to support students who would have taken the ACCUPLACER in the past.  If you have questions about the College Board SAT, please contact Danielle Taylor Assessment Program Specialist (208-332-6903).


As mentioned in the introduction, the expectation is that every student with a disability participate in all statewide assessments. Listed below are Idaho’s statewide assessments with comments about how students with disabilities participate.

  • College Entrance Exams: Most students with disabilities will meet the college entrance exam-graduation requirement by taking the SAT or ACT without or with accommodations. There are a few students for whom the SAT or ACT, even with accommodations, may not be appropriate. In these cases, the ACCUPLACER may be an alternative. A student and his/her IEP team should always discuss the student’s participation in the SAT or ACT without or with accommodations before choosing the ACCUPLACER alternative. A very few students with the most significant cognitive disabilities may be exempt from taking a college entrance exam, based on the IEP teams decision.

  • Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI): Most students will disabilities will take the IRI assessment without accommodations. Idaho does not currently have an alternate IRI assessment 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 in high school each spring. 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 an alternate assessment in ELA and Math (ISAT-Alt) based on an IEP team decision. The alternate assessments are known as ISAT-Alt.

  • ISAT-Alt ELA and Math: Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities take the ISAT-Alt ELA and Math assessments in grades 3-8 and 11. These assessments are administered online.

  • ISAT-Alt Science: Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities take the summative ISAT Science in grades 5 and 7, 10. The ISAT-Alt Science is a portfolio assessment for which teachers collect student artifacts to upload to the IPASS system.
  • A comparison of the ISAT and ISAT-Alt assessments is outlined below. Specific information related to accommodations on the ISAT and the flexibility of the ISAT-Alt are discussed in subsequent FAQs.

    The general ISAT assesses student grade-level performance on Idaho Content Standards The ISAT-Alt assesses student grade-level performance on the Idaho Core Content Connectors in ELA and math and Extended Content Objectives in science.
    Most all students with disabilities (about 99%) take the ISAT without or with accommodations Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (about 1%) take the ISAT-Alt
    The ISAT is administered in large or small groups, although some students may test in a separate room from their peers. The ISAT-Alt is administered individually, with a familiar adult facilitating a student’s participation in the assessment.
    The ISAT is take by students without accommodations or with a specific set of standard accommodations The ISAT-Alt allows for flexible administration based on the student’s individual needs.
    ELA and Math ISATs are delivered online ELA and Math ISAT-Alts are delivered online, although students may interact with a printed version of the test.
    ISAT Science is delivered online ISAT-Alt Science is a portfolio assessment


    The ISAT-Alt assessments measure student achievement on alternate content standards from the Idaho Content Standards. In ELA and math, the grade-level alternate content standards are the Core Content Connectors. The alternate content standards for Science are the Extended Content Objectives. The Core Content Connectors and Extended Content Objectives are grade-level academic standards that have been reduced in breadth and complexity.

    Visit the State Department of Education Assessment and Accountability webpage to find the Core Content Connectors and Extended Content Objectives.

  • Core Content Connectors are located at the bottom of the Special Education Assessments webpage.

  • Science Extended Content Objectives are located under the bottom of the Science Assessments webpage.


    A student's IEP team determines his/her eligibility to take the ISAT-Alt using the participation criteria on the IEP form. A student must meet all three criteria to be eligible:

    1. The student's demonstrated cognitive ability and adaptive behavior prevent 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 to demonstrate performance of these skills without intensive and frequent individualized instruction.

    If the IEP team cannot respond “yes” to any of these three criteria, then the student must take the ISAT without or with accommodations.

    The ACCUPLACER is a computer adaptive assessment included in the College Board family of assessments. It assesses student skills in Arithmetic, Elementary Algebra, College-Level Math, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Skills. Through these subtests, ACCUPLACER assesses student preparedness for introductory credit-bearing college courses.

    The Idaho State Board of Education has named ACCUPLACER as an alternative assessment to the college entrance exams required for graduation for some students with disabilities. It is intended for students with disabilities for whom the SAT or ACT would not be appropriate, even with accommodations. This is significant because the allowable accommodations for the SAT or ACT are limited, whereas the accommodations available for students taking the ACCUPLACER are flexible and the test is untimed.

    A student and his/her IEP team determine whether or not the ACCUPLACER assessment is an appropriate alternative to the SAT or ACT for him/her to meet the college entrance exam graduation requirement. Again, it is only for those students with disabilities for whom the SAT or ACT with accommodations would NOT be appropriate.

    Accommodations are available only to ELLs with disabilities when specified on an approved IEP or Section 504 Plan, and only when the student requires the accommodation(s) to participate in an assessment in a meaningful and appropriate way. The IEP or Section 504 team should meet and review the available accommodations and supports available within the WIDA suite of assessments prior to testing. It is the IEP team’s responsibility to decide appropriate tools, supports, and accommodations based on the student’s needs and what is available on ACCESS 2.0 and/or the domain itself. For specifics on WIDA accommodations, please reference their Accessibility and Accommodations webpage. Download a copy of the WIDA Accessibility and Accommodations Framework from the Resources section of this webpage.

    WIDA offers an Alternate ACCESS for ELLs assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Only students meeting the ISAT-Alt eligibility requirements are permitted to take the Alternate ACCESS.

    The school’s special education and ELL teams should work closely to determine how ELLs with disabilities participate in the WIDA/ACCESS assessments. The person able to solicit the best responses from a student should administer the test.

    Assessing Students with Disabilities Statewide Resources

    Contact Us

    Karlynn Laraway

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

    karren streagle, ph.d.

    Early Childhood/Alternate Assessment Coordinator
    Idaho State Department of Education
    Phone: 208-332-6824

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