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Alternate Assessments

OSSE is committed to the inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities in the District of Columbia’s assessment and accountability system to ensure the appropriate allocation of resources and learning opportunities for all. Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities take alternate assessments to PARCC and DC Science, the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) and DC Science Alternate Assessment (DC Science Alt).

The MSAA is a comprehensive assessment system designed to promote higher academic outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities in preparation for a broader array of post-secondary outcomes. The MSAA’s ELA/Literacy and mathematics assessments are required for students in grades 3-8 and 11, who qualify for the alternate assessment. The MSAA is primarily administered online, with built-in supports to help students respond independently. Depending on students’ individual needs, some students will interact directly with the computer while others will interact with printed materials provided by the test administrator.

The DC Science Alt provides a measure of progress toward achievement of learning standards in science. This portfolio-based assessment is administered to students in grades 5 and 8, and students enrolled in high school biology who qualify for the alternate assessment.

Test Design

The MSAA is a computer-based assessment and uses an online platform. Most items on MSAA are selected response; however, some are constructed response.

The DC Science Alt portfolio assessment represents a multi-disciplinary approach to student learning and performance that effectively links grade-level learning standards, instruction, and assessment. Figure 1 highlights this relationship.

Practice Tests and Tutorials

To explore sample items from the MSAA, select topics and grade levels below:


Accessibility for All Students

OSSE is committed to providing equitable assessment opportunities for students in the District of Columbia. More information can be found on OSSE’s Testing Accommodations page.

Test Results

Results.OSSE.dc.gov is an interactive platform that allows visitors to explore assessment results. On this site, users can view school-, local education agency- (LEA), and DC-level information on DC assessment performance. Users may view PARCC results, results from DC’s alternate assessment, MSAA, or the combined results by making selections in the data settings.

The Parent Guide to Understanding 2018 Student Score Reports is a resource to help families prepare for and understand the individual student reports that is currently available. An MSAA score report guide is available here.


Related Services: 
Service Contact: 
OSSE Assessment Team
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
(202) 535-2651
Contact TTY: 
Contact Suite #: 
Fourth Floor
Service Location: 

1050 First Street, NE

GIS Address: 
1050 First Street, NE