South Dakota Alternate Assessment

English Language Arts (ELA), Math, and Science

Alternate Assessment is available for students who have met the significant cognitive disability criteria. These students are working with the Core Content Connectors and their IEP’s indicate alternate assessment for statewide testing.

The term “significant cognitive disability” is not a category of disability. It is a designation given to a small number of students with disabilities for purposes of their participation in the state assessment program. In order for a student to qualify for alternate assessment at state and district level, they must meet all three criteria.

  • Student has a disability, or disabilities, that significantly impacts cognitive function and adaptive behavior.
  • The student’s instruction is aligned to the South Dakota Content Standards but is adapted to reflect the knowledge and skills in the Core Content Connectors.
  • The student is unable to apply academic, life, and job skills in home, school, and community without intensive, frequent, and individualized instruction and supports in multiple setting.
    • What the student needs in order to learn. In other words, the student requires extensive, repeated, individualized instruction and supports from teachers and other professionals.
    • The types of materials required in order for the student to learn. Materials are significantly modified, customized, and adapted in order to facilitate understanding.
    • How the student demonstrates their learning. Their need for substantial supports to achieve gains in the grade-and-age-appropriate curriculum requires substantially adapted materials and customized methods of accessing information in alternate ways to acquire, maintain, generalize, demonstrate, and transfer skills across multiple settings.

(Reference the Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation on the Alternate Assessment)

Guidance Documents for Participation in the Alternate Assessment
Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation on the Alternate Assessment
Alt Assessment Worksheet
Documentation of Evidence Worksheet
Instructional Supports for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
Office of Assessment Website
ELA and Math Alternate Assessment (MSAA)
Accessing MSAA Student Report Enrollment Template
MSAA ORG ID List Medical Exemption Form
Test Administration Manual MSAA Parent Letter
Users Form Test Security Agreement
MSAA 2017 Guide for Score Report MSAA Sample Items
MSAA and Science Alternate Assessment Presentation

Science Alternate Assessment

“The SDSA-Alt is available for students who have a significant cognitive disability. These students are working with the Core Content Connectors and their IEP’s indicate alternate assessment for statewide testing (see Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation on the Alternate Assessment).”

Science Standards with Core Content Connectors

Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will be tested over the South Dakota Science standards adopted in May, 2015. The standards tested will be grade spans from grades 3-5, 6-8, and high school.

More information on 2018 Science Assessment and Alternate Assessment will become available as soon as it is ready.

2017 Testing
Parent Letter
SDSA-Alt Test Coordinator Handbook
2016-2017 SDSA-Alt Directions for Administering
2016-2017 SDSA Alt FAQ
2016-2017 SDSA-Alt Data Collection Form
2016-2017 SDSA-Alt Score Resolution Form
2016-2017 SDSA-Alt Supporting Evidence Rubric

Other Useful Links or Documents
South Dakota Science Accommodations
Accommodation Manual
Alternate Assessment List Serv
Justifications for exceeding 1% participation: 10 or more students
Districts with less than 10


If you have questions, please contact the Special Education Office at the South Dakota Department of Education at (605) 773-3678.