Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessments

The alternate assessments are designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Students with significant cognitive disabilities make up approximately 1% of the student population. The structure of the alternate assessments are designed around the students’ physical and cognitive disabilities in a way that allows them to answer test questions and participate in the test as independently as possible.

Students participate in state assessments in one of three ways. 

  1. The general assessments:
    • Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS)
    • RI PSAT10
    • RI SAT School Day
    • Next Generation Science Assessment (NGSA)
  2. The general assessment with accommodations 
    • The same assessments listed above but with supports during testing.
  3. The alternate assessments (The Dynamic Learning Maps, or DLM)
    • DLM in English language arts, mathematics (grades 3-8 and 11)
    • DLM in science (grades 5, 8, and 11)

In addition to the information below, more information on the DLM alternate assessments can be found at www.dynamiclearningmaps.org.

Eligibility for the Alternate Assessment

RIDE has new eligibility criteria and guidance that went into effect March 29, 2024. This guidance was developed and piloted in partnership with four Rhode Island districts. Please use the resources below to understand these important new changes to determining student eligibility for the alternate assessment. Districts, including IEP Teams are expected to implement the new criteria and process for determining eligibility. 

NOTE: The online, self-paced Alternate Assessment Eligibility Training Course will reopen in Fall, 2024. More information on exact dates and how to register educators will be available in the coming weeks.

Required Forms: RIDE requires that the forms below be used by all LEAs when making eligibility decisions. LEAs provide the memo and forms below to SIS and IEP vendors as they prepare to transition to the new eligibility criteria and processes.

DLM Core Vocabulary

The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, in partnership with the DLM consortium, researched and identified the words most important to the success of beginning communicators in both social and academic contexts.

Tested Essential Elements

The table below includes links to the essential elements and learning maps for each content area. Also included are links to professional development modules to help teachers and other educators expand their instructional strategies and understanding of the essential elements. These documents and professional development modules, along with other relevant general education curriculum materials, may be used to inform instructional planning and goal-setting.

Also access the DLM Instructional Resources for Year End Model States for additional materials and documents.




 Test Blueprint (PDF) Test Blueprint (PDF) Test Blueprint (PDF)
 PD Modules PD Modules PD Modules
Currently Tested EEs Currently Tested EEs Currently Tested EEs
Familiar Texts    

NOTE: If using these documents to inform IEP goal writing and instructional planning, use only the essential elements for the student's current grade level. For example, only the 11th grade essential elements should be used for instructional planning and goal-setting for 11th grade students. 

Instructional Professional Development Modules

DLM has developed online, self-paced modules that cover a range of topics such as:

  • writing IEPs aligned to the Essential Elements;
  • understanding the Essential Elements;
  • understanding and teaching to the Common Core State Standards through the Essential Elements for ELA and mathematics;
  • understanding and teaching to the Next Generation Science Standards through the Essential Elements for science;

Access the modules at https://www.dlmpd.com/

Certificates of Completion: At the end of each module, teachers will receive a certificate of completion.Teachers should contact their district for information about using these certificates for fulfilling continuing education or other certification credits or professional development requirements.

DLM Teacher Committees

Dynamic Learning Maps, through the Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) center, is streamlining how it reaches out for educators to participate in various alternate assessment and instructional support development opportunities. Below are the details and a link to complete the survey.

WHO: Special educators who teach students taking the alternate assessment in public and outplacement schools, TVIs and other specialists, content area teachers (ELA, mathematics, and science), special education directors, etc.

WHAT: The ATLAS center offers many opportunities to participate in events such as testlet development, testlet review, and score validation of writing testlets. There are a range of participation options, including paid work, that can help develop professional skill sets and in some cases provide networking opportunities with other teachers from other DLM states.

WHEN: This depends on the project as each project will have separate timelines.

WHERE: Depending on the project, some require in-person meetings in Kansas City, KS and some can be accomplished remotely.

HOW: Individuals who are interested in participating in future ATLAS events should complete the short survey linked below. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Since the information provided through the survey will be used as a pool to draw potential participants for upcoming events, the information may be used multiple times. However, please note that ATLAS staff may ask participants to complete additional surveys depending upon event needs. Project staff will contact volunteers to participate if their preferences and qualifications match the needs of a particular event. No experience is necessary in order for selection as a participant. Once ATLAS staff have identified participants, we will reach out to those individuals with more detailed information and verify that those selected are able to participate. Register here.

QUESTIONS: Any questions may be directed to atlas-aai@ku.edu