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New Colorado Alternate English Language Arts and Mathematics Assessments


The Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment program is designed to measure what students with significant cognitive disabilities know and can do.

Colorado has joined the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) alternate assessment consortium. DLM is a multiple-state consortium that is developing a computer-delivered alternate assessment.  The DLM assessment program is designed for students with significat cognitive disabilites for whom, the general education assessments, even with accommodations, are not appropriate.  

DLM is developing an end of the year assessment that is anticipated to to replace the current CoAlt in the content areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics. The assessments are anticipated to be administered for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year. 

Extended Evidence Outcomes

Students who qualify for alternate assessments require extensive, direct instruction and substantial supports.  They are learning academic content aligned to grade level content stanards, but reduced depth, breadth, and complexity.  These standards are call the Extended Evidence Outcomes (EEOs) of the Colorado Academic Standards.  Colorado's EEOs were the State Board of Education unanimously adopted on August 3, 2011. 

For more information on the EEOs please see the standards webpage.

Instructionally Relevant Assessments

The DLM system is designed to map a student's learning throughout the year.  The system will use items and tasks that are embedded in day-to-day instruction.  In this way, testing happens as part of instruction, which both informs teaching and benefits students.  These instructionally embedded assessments are available for districts to use, but are not required by the State nor will they be used for Colorado's accountability scores.

The Assessment Unit and Exceptional Student Services Unit will be working together to provide the field with additional information and supports regarding the instructional and assessment tools being developed by DLM throughout the course of the next year. As a starting point, additional information may be found on DLM’s website at

DLM Professional Development Materials:

Dynamic Learning Map

A leaning map is a network of sequenced learning targets.  Often, it is thought that learning is one skill buiding on another single skill.  A dynamic learning map, by comparision, shows a learning landscape in which skills are related to many other skills. Dynamic learning maps show not only the relationships between skills but also show multiple learning pathways.  This system recognizes that there are multiple pathways to learning the same skill.  It is anticipated that, by using dynamic learning maps as the bases for assessments, the DLM assessment system will provie teachers a clearer view of each student's knowledge.  

Kinds of Skills Included in Learning Maps:

    • Tested Subject-Specific Skills. These skills include things like knowing a vocabulary word or being able to solve a multiplication problem.
    • Related Precursor Academic Skills. These are the underlying skills necessary to master the target (tested) skill.  For example, to solve a multiplication problem, a student first needs to understand what numbers are, to be able to order numbers, etc.
    • Communication Skills.  These are skills taht allow students to communicate their answers.  Communication skills include a variety of communication methods such as pointing, nodding, or augmentative communication.
    • Attention Skills. Before a student can show knowledge of a particular subject, the student must first be able to focus on the task or item presented.

By mapping these and other types of skills, students are able to show what they know.

What does a Learning Map look like?

A learning map is similar to a road map.  Students share a common destination (target standard) they begin at different locations on the map. For teachers and parents who hope to guide students to their destination, the road map provides information on routes to the destination.  The main route, is the shortest, most direct way to reach the destination. The map shows several alternate routes in case the main route is not able to be traveled.  Additionally, the map shows waypoints (linked skills) en route to achieving the destination.

DLM Field Test Information

Information for districts participating in the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Field Test #3, beginning on May 1, 2014 can be found on the DLM Field Testing Website at:

Technology information and requirements for the Field Test, and Operational Assessment (anticipated Spring 2015), can be found at:

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