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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 Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Science Alternate Assessment.

Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA)

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.

MSAA 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.

MSAA Practice Tests and Tutorials

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

MSAA Sample ELA Items - Grade 4
MSAA Sample ELA Items - Grade 8
MSAA Sample ELA Items - Grade 11

MSAA Sample Math Items - Grade 3
MSAA Sample Math Items - Grade 6
MSAA Sample Math Items - Grade 11

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Science Alternate Assessment

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) is the new districtwide alternate science assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The DLM Science Alternate Assessment is based on Essential Elements (EEs) that are alternate achievement standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  This assessment will be administered to students in grades 5, 8, and high school biology who are eligible for alternate assessment participation. The DLM Science Alternate assessment is an on-demand, computer-based assessment that replaces the DC Science Alternate portfolio.

DLM Science Assessment Blueprints and Instructional Resources

The Science DLM is a year-end spring alternate assessment that measures student outcomes of yearlong science instruction. Educators can refer to the DLM Science Assessment Blueprints to explore the NGSS Essential Elements (EEs) that are assessed in the grade 5, 8 and high school biology assessments.

Learn more about the District of Columbia DLM Science Alternate Assessment including blueprints, manuals, released tests, and instructional resources.

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.

Public Comment: 2023 Proposed Guidance for Students With The Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities


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