The Idaho Special Education Manual defines significant cognitive impairment as “[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)” (2018 Idaho Special Education Manual, p. xiii).

Students with the most significant cognitive impairments/disabilities represent about 1% of the total student population, but their needs can be as diverse as the rest of the student population combined. Having a disability category of autism, intellectual disability, or multiple disabilities does not automatically mean students have significant cognitive disabilities (SCD), but students with the most SCD most often come from these disability categories. This topic page is dedicated to three main facets of teaching and supporting students with the most SCD: Instructional Resources, Idaho Alternate Assessment (IDAA) Test Administration, and IDAA Participation Monitoring and Support.


Significant Cognitive Disabilities Webinar Series. This new webinar series is designed to share information and resources with educators who teach and support students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

  • Webinar 1. Introduction to Resources: September 19, 2023 - View Recording
  • Webinar 2. Literacy for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities: November 28, 2023 - View Recording
  • Webinar 3. Tips to Prepare for the IDAA: January 16, 2024 - View Recording
  • Webinar 4. Tips for Administering the IDAA: March 5, 2024 - View Recording
  • Webinar 5. Looking Forward to School Year 2024-25: May 7, 2024 - CANCELLED


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Contact Us

karren streagle, ph.d.

Alternate Assessment/Low Incidence Disabilities/Medicaid Coordinator
Special Education Department
Phone: 208-332-6824

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