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 Dynamic Learning Maps (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. IMPORTANT UPDATE: Scales 1-4 & 6 are REQUIRED.  Scale 5 is optional.  The IEP team will choose 1 scale to progress monitor for the year.  This must be documented in the IEP and is required a minimum of once a month.  


The Early Literacy  Assessment windows for 2020-2021 are:

EL AA Reporting Timelines:

Fall Instructional/Weekly Artifact Collection Window:  August 17-October 9

Fall Reporting Window: September 29th-October 9th

Winter Instructional/Weekly Artifact Collection Window: October 12th- February 26th

Winter Reporting Window: February 15th-February 26th

Spring Instructional/weekly Artifact Collection Window: March 1st-June 4th

Spring Reporting Window: May 17th-June 4th


The DLM Assessment windows for 2020-2021 are:

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

Fall Phase 1: September 14th-October 30th

Fall Phase 2: November 2nd-December 18th

Spring Phase 1: February 1st-March 26th            DLM Spring Guidance FAQ 

Spring Phase 2: March 29th-May 28th


Comprehensive Literacy - Diagram 



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