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National Center State Collaborative (NCSC) and DC CAS-Alt. Science


All District of Columbia students participate in districtwide assessments in one of three ways: 

  1. The general assessment
  2. The general assessment with accommodations
  3. The alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) (DC CAS Alt/NCSC)

AA-AAS are intended for students who have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent them from participating in the general assessment even with accommodations and/or modifications.

AA-AAS are built upon measurable targeted skills that are linked to the DC OSSE content standards in ELA, Mathematics, and Science.  However, they represent student performance at a lower level of breadth, depth, and complexity than found in the general statewide assessment.  Up to 1% of District of Columbia students in grades tested may show academic proficiency through administration of an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS).

The District of Columbia adopted Common Core State Standards in ELA and Mathematics.  In 2014-2015 students with significant cognitive disabilities will transition to a new alternate assessment, the National Center State Collaborative (NCSC).  It is important that special educators are familiar with the new assessment format to aid educators in navigating through the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) instructional supports.  The instructional supports developed by the NCSC project can help teachers provide meaningful and accessible content to students with significant cognitive disabilities.  

The current assessment, the DC CAS Alt will remain only for Science while we transition to the new science standards. 

The DC CAS Alt Science assesses academic knowledge and skills with a portfolio assessment that is completed by teachers throughout the year.  Teachers will continue to collect data and student work in science in grades 5, 8, and HS Biology.

The NCSC assessment is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Similar to DC CAS Entry Points, Core Content Connectors (CCCs) were developed to guide test development and alignment to the CCSS.  The CCCs break the Common Core Standards into smaller, more manageable chunks for students. 



National Center State Collaborative (NCSC)

Test Type


On-Demand with flexibility in when the test is delivered and how many items are presented.

Content Area


ELA and Mathematics

Grade Levels

5, 8, and HS Biology

3-8 and 11



Month-long in Spring


DC Content Standards *transition to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)



Remains the Same


Teacher scores assessment activities and records data.  Scorning of completed portfolio handled by Pearson.

Teacher will score some constructed response items.  Multiple choice items will be scored by computer.

Test Results

Highly individualized content and activities made valid group comparisons difficult since students are assessed on different standards

Standardized content with adaptations and accommodations will make group comparisons easier since students will be assessed on the same content but at different levels of complexity.

Important Dates for NCSC and DC CAS Alt Science

The following dates apply to the Spring 2015 administration of the NCSC assessment and the DC CAS Alt Science Portfolio review.


DC CAS Alt Science Portfolio review training webinar hosted by Pearson

  • March 6, 2015: DC CAS Alt Science Portfolio testing window ends
  • March 13, 2015: Last date to ship DC CAS Alt Science Portfolio to Pearson

Alternate Assessment Registration Window


For more information about the DC CAS-ALT, please see:

Related Services: 
Service Contact: 
Michelle Blakey-Tuggle
Contact Phone: 
(202) 374-1328
Contact TTY: 
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm