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Participation Criteria and Forms

Alternate districtwide assessments are available for the 2021-22 school year for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities as an alternative to participating in the PARCC and the DC Science assessments. All District of Columbia students participate in District-wide assessments in one of three ways:

  1. The general assessment
  2. The general assessment with accommodation
  3. The alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS)

Eligibility for participation in any alternate assessment for the 2020-21 school year begins with LEAs completing the appropriate documentation in SEDS. During the IEP development process, or through an IEP amendment, Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams are to carefully review OSSE’s participation criteria to identify individual students for whom it may be most appropriate to participate in the alternate assessment program.

Timeline for the Alternate Assessment Eligibility Process for the 2021-22 School Year



LEAs ensure or update documentation for alternate assessment requests in SEDS. For OSSE to review for participation eligibility, a student must have the following in SEDS for the 2020-21 school year:

  1. There is a current IEP on file.
  2. The current IEP indicates “Alternate Assessment” selected by the IEP team.
  3. There is a “DC Alternate Assessment Participation Decision Documentation Form” on file associated with the current IEP.
  4. All documentation to support the alternate assessment decision form has been uploaded.

Refer to the scenario examples to determine whether an electronic or PDF documentation form is appropriate.

Oct. 15, 2021

LEAs are able to view the students who have alternate assessment applications in SEDS through a Qlik application.

Oct. 4, 2021
(rolling updates)


Final deadline for LEAs updating alternate assessment eligibility documentation in SEDS for the 2020-21 school year.

Oct. 15, 2021


OSSE reviews documentation in SEDS for students requesting eligibility for alternate assessments in the 2020-21 school year.

Oct. 18, 2021 – Nov. 19, 2021


OSSE sends Exceeding 1 Percent Cap Justification Memo and Justification Form to LEAs who have assessed more than 1 percent of their students with an alternate assessment.

Oct. 25, 2021

Final deadline for LEAs to submit their Exceeding 1 Percent Cap Justification Form to OSSE. Nov. 5, 2021 QuickBase
OSSE sends eligibility determinations to LEAs in SEDS. In addition, LEAs will be able to view these determinations in Qlik. Nov. 22, 2021 SEDS

LEAs may appeal eligibility determinations in Quickbase and in most cases will need to submit additional evidence that supports the appeal to OSSE in SEDS.

As a rare exception, LEAs may submit new eligibility applications after the application window for transfer students or students who have new evaluations or disability determinations.

Nov. 22, 2021 – Dec. 17, 2021

LEAs receive final eligibility determinations from OSSE in SEDS. Jan. 10, 2022 SEDS

The following documents will assist IEP Teams to determine eligibility for DC Alternate Assessments.

Exceeding One Percent

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allows states to administer alternate assessments, based on alternate achievement standards. These assessments are reserved for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. In the District of Columbia, these alternate assessments are the Multi State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) in Science.

ESEA requires that no more than 1 percent of the total number of students in the state be administered on the alternate assessment. In instances where the state exceeds the one percent cap, the state may apply for a waiver from the statute. The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) issues guidance to LEAs and schools describing what constitutes a significant cognitive disability for the purposes of testing on the MSAA. OSSE expects LEAs and schools to evaluate a student’s needs with their IEP team to determine testing eligibility.

For questions about participation criteria or eligibility determinations, please contact [email protected].

Note: This document is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.

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