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 is releasing new eligibility criteria and guidance. 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.

Technical Assistance Webinars: To assist LEAs in their implementation of the new eligibility criteria and guidance, RIDE is hosting monthly technical assistance webinars. Anyone involved in eligibility decisions is welcome. We will be providing updates on all things alternate assessment and then answering questions.

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.

Current Eligibility Criteria for the Alternate Assessment

NOTE: The documents below are the current (not the new) criteria. The new criteria are posted above along with timelines for implementation and training opportunities.

The Guidance for Determining Eligibility for the Alternate Assessments is for all members of a student’s IEP Team to help them determine if a student meets the three eligibility criteria. The Guidance document contains the form that IEP Team members must read and include with the student’s IEP confirming that the student meets all eligibility criteria.

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 the essential elements and learning maps, by grade and content area, for each of the essential elements included on the DLM alternate assessments. 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.




 Test Blueprint (PDF) Test Blueprint (PDF) Test Blueprint (PDF)
 PD Modules PD Modules PD Modules
Grade 3 (PDF) Grade 3 (PDF)  
Grade 4 (PDF) Grade 4 (PDF)  
Grade 5 (PDF) Grade 5 (PDF) Grade 5 (PDF)**
Grade 6 (PDF) Grade 6 (PDF)  
Grade 7 (PDF) Grade 7 (PDF)  
Grade 8 (PDF) Grade 8 (PDF) Grade 8 (PDF)**
Grade 11 (PDF) Grade 11 (PDF) Grade 11 (PDF)**

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. 

** The science essential elements documents contain all of the essential elements for the elementary, middle, and high school grade bands and are not designated by grade level. Use the general education science curriculum along with these documents to make further determinations as to the most appropriate course of instruction and goal-setting for the student.

Essential Elements for K-12

Eligibility for the alternate assessment is a process that must happen at each annual IEP Team meeting. Criteria 2 of the eligibility criteria for the alternate assessment requires alignment between the essential elements, the student's present levels of functioning, and the IEP goals. Below are the full set of essential elements for K-12. These documents may be used for students in non-tested grades to inform instructional planning and goal-setting during years when the student is not required to participate in the alternate assessment.

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