The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Every Student Succeeds Act ensure that all students, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, have access to grade level curriculum, receive individualized, standards-aligned instruction to grade level standards, and are included in state assessment and accountability systems. The PA Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics and the PA Academic Standards in Science are instructional priorities for all students.
These pages are designed to support teachers and families regarding instruction of academic content for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who have been determined to be eligible for participation in the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). Students assessed on the PASA often receive related services, extensive supports, and significant modifications across all areas of the school day. As a result, it is important for IEP Teams to have information to guide instructional decision making regarding the prioritization of academic content.
Pennsylvania stakeholders in various roles assisted the PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education in determining the prioritized content. First, they determined which grade level standards in Reading, Writing, Math and Science were important to be taught to students assessed on the PASA. Next, they reviewed and prioritized the eligible content, or information assessed on the general assessment or PSSA. Then, they reduced the eligible content into meaningful, less complex content known as alternate eligible content or AEC. The AEC is what is assessed on the PASA. *It is important to know that at Grade 11 only; the AEC is derived directly from the grade level standards. There is no Grade 11 PSSA with eligible content. Rather, there are end of course tests known as Keystone Exams.
The AEC can be accessed on each of the content specific pages contained herein. Resources such as the State Board Approved standards and AEC, progressions of the content across the grades, and webinars are available to support instructional planning for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
Additional pages are also available the explain further how the AEC can be reduced in depth and breadth or differentiated to meet the individual needs of each learner. This systematic process is known as essentialization.