Alternate assessments have been implemented in States for over twenty years. During this time, the nature and purpose of alternate assessments have changed, including how participation is viewed and determined. In 2003 the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) placed a 1% cap on the percentage of the total tested student population that could count as proficient on the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS). This rule limited the number of proficient scores from an AA-AAAS that a district could include in its accountability reporting, but it did not limit the number of students participating the AA-AAAS.
In 2015, with the reauthorization of ESEA as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this rule changed. ESSA reaffirmed that the AA-AAAS is an appropriate assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to demonstrate their knowledge and skill, and rather than placing a limit on the number of proficient scores from the alternate assessment in accountability reporting, it placed a 1% threshold, or limit, on participation in the assessment.
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) no longer reallocate proficient scores that exceed the 1% cap, as that cap no longer exists in regulation. Rather, the State must meet the 1% threshold requirement. LEAs must ensure that IEP teams are adhering to the PASA Eligibility Criteria and that 1% of its tested population is participating in the AA-AAAS. The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) is responsible for oversight and will analyze participation data at the State and LEA levels. All LEAs have been directed to complete and submit a 1.0 Threshold Participation Justification to the BSE. The LEA will identify if it anticipates exceeding the 1% participation threshold for the upcoming school year. LEAs exceeding the 1% threshold are subject to further monitoring. Both the State and LEA must make this information available to the public. LEAs who anticipate assessing more than 1.0 percent of students with disabilities on the alternate assessment are listed on the BSE website at ESSA 1.0 Percent Threshold Justification Requirements.
Resources available on the 1% participation threshold and ESSA are available on the Bureau of Special Education (BSE) Assessment webpage. The following link provides information on the 3-tiered system of oversight and monitoring Pennsylvania implements with LEAs to address the 1.0 percent threshold requirement.
BSE and ESSA 1.0 Percent Threshold Justification Requirements
2019-2020 Tier 2 Recorded Webinar Training for LEAs Exceeding the 1% Threshold Requirement
2019-2020 Tier 2 Webinar Training PowerPoint for LEAs Exceeding the 1% Threshold Requirement
PASA Eligibility Criteria: Decision Making Companion Tool
The following resources from the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) are provided to states and schools in an effort to support meeting the 1.0% participation threshold requirements.
Strategies for Meeting the 1% Cap on Participation in the State Alternate Assessment
NCEO Tool #4: District Dialogue Guide - Addressing the Percentage of Students Participating in the Alternate Assessment
NCEO 1% Toolkit