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Alternate Assessment

Alternate Assessment is available for students who have met the significant cognitive disability criteria. These students are working with the Core Content Connectors and their IEP’s indicate alternate assessment for statewide testing.

The term “significant cognitive disability” is not a category of disability. It is a designation given to a small number of students with disabilities for purposes of their participation in the state assessment program. In order for a student to qualify for alternate assessment at state and district level, they must meet all three criteria.

  • Student has a disability, or disabilities, that significantly impacts cognitive function and adaptive behavior.
  • The student’s instruction is aligned to the South Dakota Content Standards but is adapted to reflect the knowledge and skills in the Core Content Connectors.
  • The student is unable to apply academic, life, and job skills in home, school, and community without intensive, frequent, and individualized instruction and supports in multiple setting.
    • What the student needs in order to learn. In other words, the student requires extensive, repeated, individualized instruction and supports from teachers and other professionals.
    • The types of materials required in order for the student to learn. Materials are significantly modified, customized, and adapted in order to facilitate understanding.
    • How the student demonstrates their learning. Their need for substantial supports to achieve gains in the grade-and-age-appropriate curriculum requires substantially adapted materials and customized methods of accessing information in alternate ways to acquire, maintain, generalize, demonstrate, and transfer skills across multiple settings.

(Reference the Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation on the Alternate Assessment)

Science Alternate Assessment

“The SDSA-Alt is available for students who have a significant cognitive disability. These students are working with the Core Content Connectors and their IEP’s indicate alternate assessment for statewide testing (see Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation on the Alternate Assessment).”

Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will be tested over the South Dakota Science standards adopted in May, 2015. The standards tested will be grade spans from grades 3-5, 6-8, and high school.

Achievement Level Descriptors/Performance Level Descriptors


Contact the Special Education Office at the South Dakota Department of Education at (605) 773-3678 with questions.