Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Students with Significant Disabilities

About Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities

Students with Significant Disabilities have multiple complex learning needs requiring extensive, repeated, individualized instruction and support.   High academic expectations have been established through the Every Student Succeeds Act.

About Iowa Alternate Assessment
All students are expected to participate in district-wide assessments. Students with disabilities may participate without accommodations, with accommodations or through the state of Iowa Alternate Assessment. The individualized education plan (IEP) team considers the characteristics of the student and the nature and purpose of the assessment to determine the participation option that is most appropriate.

Alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards are assessments used to evaluate the performance of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades K-11. These assessments promote fair measurement of student knowledge and assess educational performance in reading, mathematics, and for some students, science. This process ensures that students with the most significant cognitive disabilities fully have access to challenging instruction, which is linked to grade-level state content standards. In 2017-18, the Iowa Department of Education will support (and require) two alternate assessments for eligible students in grades K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.

The DLM English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Alternate Assessment is required for students in grades 3-11. . These tests are yearlong instructionally  embedded assessments with three assessment windows.

Iowa's Early Literacy Alternate Assessment is required for students in grades K-6. The Early Literacy Alternate Assessment uses an approach to assessment called a structured portfolio using work samples, photos, anecdotal notes, frequency counts, and other traditional data recording techniques. These different forms of data are collected as part of instruction each day. Completing the assessment requires educators to collect and score student work samples. Three times each year, the data is analyzed to determine which three pieces of data reflect the highest level of skill or understanding on each of the six scales. 


The Early Literacy  Assessment windows for 2019-2020 are:

EL AA Reporting Timelines:

Fall Instructional/Weekly Artifact Collection Window:  September 3-October 4

Fall Reporting Window: September 23rd-October 4th

Winter Instructional/Weekly Artifact Collection Window: October 7th- February 7th

Winter Reporting Window: January 24th-February 7th

Spring Instructional/weekly Artifact Collection Window: February 10th-May 29th

Spring Reporting Window: May 11th-May 29th


The DLM Assessment windows for 2019-2020 are:

***Science-Grades 5, 8, and 10

Fall Phase 1: September 9, 2019-November 1, 2019

Fall Phase 2: November 4, 2019-December 20, 2019

Spring Phase 1: February 3, 2020-March 20, 2020

Spring Phase 2: March 23, 2020-May 15, 2020


Comprehensive Literacy - Diagram 



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