South Dakota is part of a consortium of states that will be working to develop a new alternate assessment aligned to the Common Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics.
Called the National Center and State Collaborative, or NCSC, it is a project led by five centers and 19 states to build an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The effort is being made possible through a general supervision enhancement grant from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs.
The alternate assessment will eventually replace the Dakota STEP-A, which is the vehicle currently used to assess students with significant cognitive disabilities for accountability purposes.
As part of the consortium, South Dakota will have the opportunity to shape the design of the alternate assessment system. South Dakota school districts will have access to all of the curricular materials, instructional support, and professional development developed for teachers of students with significant cognitive disabilities through the National Center and State Collaborative.
NCSC also will design systems to ease the burden of administering the alternate assessment. Using a practice-oriented approach, the method will aim to support administrators, teachers, and families.
Through the grant, the South Dakota Department of Education has established a Committee of Practice, or CoP. They met in August and have had one webinar so far, with the next scheduled for later this month. The CoP will be an essential part of providing input and then helping disseminate information through the state.
The CoP is comprised of approximately 30 classroom teachers and technical assistance consultants and is representative of all content areas, grade levels, disciplines and geographical areas of the state. This composition of the CoP ensures that the strengths, needs and concerns all students with significant cognitive disabilities and their teachers are represented.
Members of the South Dakota CoP are required to attend training sessions, implement model curricula, and help to refine and clarify materials and resources for all members of the NCSC. National partner organizations for the NCSC include the National Center on Educational Outcomes, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and edCount, LLC.
For more information, visit http://www.cehd.umn.edu/nceo/projects/NCSC/NCSC.html or contact Linda Turner.