The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team makes the decision about how an English learner with disabilities participates in each state or districtwide assessment, including both content assessments (such as assessments of reading/language arts, mathematics, and science) and English language proficiency assessments. Some English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities will participate in the state’s alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAAS) and the state’s alternate assessment of English language proficiency based on alternate achievement standards (Alt-ELP). Decisions for Alt-ELP participation are based on specific participation criteria provided by the state.
The 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) required the participation of all students with disabilities in state and districtwide assessments and the development of alternate assessments for those students unable to participate in general assessments. In the 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), ELP assessments, including Alt-ELP assessments, became part of the accountability system. Performance on the Alt-ELP also is to be used to determine when a student is ready to be exited from English language development services.
The 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) placed a 1.0% limit on participation in the AA-AAAS. This percentage is based on the total tested student population in a subject area. ESEA did not place a limit on participation in the Alt-ELP assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alt-ELP assessments ensure that English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities are included in state assessments of English language proficiency. Participation in these assessments helps to ensure that the education system is accountable for developing the English language proficiency of English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities. All states are required to have an Alt-ELP assessment. If English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities do not have access to an Alt-ELP assessment, they either take the general ELP assessment based on achievement standards that do not reflect their significant cognitive disabilities or they are excluded from the assessment. Either way, they likely are not considered when decisions are made about how to improve programs and may be denied educational opportunities available to other students.
Only English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities should participate in the Alt-ELP assessment. State participation guidelines should be followed when the IEP team decides whether the student should participate in the general ELP assessment or the Alt-ELP assessment. Decisions should not be based on the category of a English learner’s disability, the setting in which an English learner receives instruction, or the percentage of time an English learner spends in a general education classroom.