NCEO - National Center on Educational Outcomes

Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Academic Achievement Standards

AA-AAS Overview | Publications and Resources

AA-AAS Overview

Alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) are assessments used to evaluate the performance of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. AA-AAS are meant to assess the grade-level content with less depth, breadth, and complexity than the regular assessment, and with a different definition of how well and how much students know and do in the content to be considered proficient. States must define alternate achievement standards using a documented and validated standard-setting process reflecting an appropriate high expectation that will yield increased achievement.

The AA-AAS is intended to be used with students with significant cognitive disabilities as determined by each state's eligibility criteria. National data on who participates in AA-AAS show that participating students are those with the most severe intellectual disabilities and multiple disabilities−children who represent fewer than 1 percent of all students, or less than 10 percent of all students who have disabilities. The figure of 1 percent is the regulatory cap on the percent of students whose scores on AA-AAS can be treated as proficient for purposes of school accountability. More students can participate in the AA-AAS than 1 percent, but the cap on how the scores are used in accountability is meant to avoid inappropriate inclusion of many students in a lower achievement expectation than evidence suggests is warranted.

The achievement of these students on grade-level content is very different from their general education classroom peers, but the evidence of their work is compelling. These students are able to learn academic content with reduced complexity, breadth, and depth clearly linked to the same grade-level content as their peers. The federally produced publication [Learning Opportunities for Your Child Through Alternate Assessments] provides specific examples of what AA-AAS can look like. Researchers and practitioners are working side-by-side to capture the nature of the linkages to the grade-level content in both instruction and in assessment.

For information on other types of alternate assessments see: