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Assessing Students with a Disability

It is the goal of the Accommodations and Assessment Consultant within the Office of Special Education, Exceptional Student Services Unit, to keep you informed of educational trends related to standards-based instruction, accommodations, and classroom assessment for students with a disability. For assistance or questions, please contact:

Linda Lamirande 


Dynamic Learning MapsTM: Instructional Implications Webinar



Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a planned process in which assessment - elicited evidence of students' status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics (Popham, Transformative Assessment, 2008, p. 6)

Perhaps when one first hears the term, “Formative Assessment”, the first inclination is to think it is a certain type of test administered to students to assess progress in learning. Indeed, formative assessment is about assessing progress in learning, but it is not “a test”. Rather, it is part of the instructional process, sometimes defined as “in the moment” snapshots that a teacher and a student take to monitor how the acquisition of an instructional concept is progressing toward an instructional goal. The teacher uses observation, questioning, and interaction to plan an instructional path, or to make adjustments. The student gains a better understanding of how their own learning is progressing as evidenced by data or teacher feedback.



Professional Development Related to Assessment

7-Module Series on Types and Uses for Formative Assessment and Considerations for Students with a Disability

  • Type: Online module
  • Date: TBD


Interim Assessment

Districts may elect to administer periodic assessments to monitor student proficiency throughout the school year. This type of assessment is intended to yield data upon which teachers gauge the need for re-teaching, improving instruction and monitoring student progress. Accommodations that are used regularly in classroom instruction should be considered for use on interim assessments. Districts determine the use of accommodations on district assessments as documented in the student’s formal educational plan.



Alternate Assessment

Alternate Standards and Assessment Participation Guidelines Worksheet

The IEP Team is responsible to determine whether the student meets participation guidelines as a student with a significant cognitive disability to:

  1. access the general curriculum based on alternate academic achievement standards (Colorado Academic Standards/Extended Evidence Outcomes EEOs) and
  2. participate in alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (e.g. CoAlt, 11th Grade Alternate for Colorado ACT or Alternate ACCESS for ELLs)

The following resources are offered to IEP Teams to facilitate the decision-making process:

Professional Development Related to Alternate Standards and Assessment Participation Guidelines

Alternate Standards and Assessment Participation Guidelines Worksheet Webinar for School Psychologists 

Fast Fact

11th Grade Alternate Assessment for the Colorado ACT

Dates for Spring 2014

  • Testing Window: March 30 - April 24, 2015
  • Data Entry on the Data Pipeline Site: April 27-May 8, 2015
    Approve and Sumit to CDE:  May 1-15, 2015
    Collection Closes May 15, 2015



Modified Assessment

By choice, Colorado has not adopted modified academic achievement standards and thus does not offer a modified assessment.

Students with overall cognitive and/or adaptive behavior abilities that fall "within normal limits" range when evaluated for eligibility to receive special education services are not considered to be eligible as significantly cognitively disabled.

These students are evaluated on grade-level academic achievement standards and will take general assessments, with or without accommodations.


Summative Assessment

For information on accommodations and administration of the Colorado Alternate (CoAlt), please visit the Assessment Unit.



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