(2019, May) | Helpful to Parent Centers, parents, and educators in understanding alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

This 4-page Parent Brief comes from the TIES Center, is authored by Ricki Sabia and Martha Thurlow, and focuses on alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. As the brief explains, alternate assessments are designed by states based on the state content standards for students in a particular grade, but have different performance expectations  for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The brief discusses what qualifies as a “significant cognitive disability” and describes the IEP team’s role in deciding whether or not a student will take the state’s alternate assessment instead of the regular assessment given to all students in that grade.

As the brief’s title indicates, the fact that a student will be taking the alternative assessment does not mean that he or she would necessarily then be educated in a separate, non-inclusive setting. The decision about which assessment a student takes is separate from the decision about where a student is educated. The brief reviews IDEA’s least restrictive environment (LRE) provisions and other legal provisions that support inclusion in the regular classroom. It offers suggestions for including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in general education classrooms, and provides guidance to parents on what to say and stress in the IEP meeting. The brief closes with “Next Steps for Parents” and a short list of additional resources.

Download the TIES Parent Brief, available at:


About the TIES Center

The TIES Center works to create sustainable changes in kindergarten–grade 8 school and district educational systems, so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs. The center offers many tip sheets and articles for parents of children with disabilities, including such titles as:

  • TIP #2: Using Collaborative Teams to Support Students with Significant Communication Needs in Inclusive Classrooms
  • TIP #6: Using the Least Dangerous Assumption in Educational Decisions
  • Communicative Competence in the Inclusive Setting-A Review of the Literature
  • A Family’s Journey of Inclusion
  • Creating Inclusive Schools: What Does the Research Say?
  • Myth vs. Fact: What is True About Including Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities?

Explore what’s available, at: https://tiescenter.org/resources?audience=1