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Alternate Assessments

Posted: Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:59am Updated: Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:07pm


The purpose of an alternate assessment is to measure student achievement in the subject areas of English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and 10, Science (Grades 4 and 6), Social Studies (Grades 5 and 7) and Biology (Grade 10) based on alternate academic achievement standards. Students who perform significantly below grade-level may have personal learning goals that cannot be adequately measured with a grade-level standardized test. The Case Conference Committee determines, based on the eligibility criteria adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education and the student's individual and unique needs, whether a student with a disability will be assessed on the alternate assessment. Therefore the student's goals and objectives are generally prerequisites to grade-level academics or are highly individualized extensions to the standards.

The ESEA Flexibility Waiver requires Indiana to administer a fully operational alternate assessment based on the 2014 college- and career-ready English/Language Arts and Mathematics Indiana Academic Standards by the spring of 2015. Indiana will administer the National Center and State Collaborative Assessment for English/Language Arts and Math, and will continue to use the Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting (ISTAR) to assess Science and Social Studies. In addition, teachers may continue to monitor student progress related to functional skills utilizing ISTAR.

English Language Arts and Math - National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC)

NCSC is a project led by five centers and 24 states to build an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The goal of the NCSC project is to ensure that students with the most significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options.

Since 2011, Indiana educators have been instrumental in the development of the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) Assessment.

  • Aligned with college- and career-ready standards, the NCSC Assessment is designed to replace ISTAR in the areas of English/Language Arts and Mathematics beginning in 2014-15.
  • Students will interact directly with the items on the NCSC Assessment. Indiana educators and students participated in the NCSC Assessment pilots during the spring and fall of 2014. The pilot experience provided important feedback in terms of test items and administration.
  • 2015 Indiana State-Specific Guidance for NCSC

NCSC Operational Test Blueprint

The purpose of the test blueprint is to make transparent to educators the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of students on the assessments. This document describes the current design of the NCSC test blueprint for the summative assessment in Mathematics and ELA. This is a draft document, and it will be updated pending data from pilot testing in fall 2014. The final operational blueprint will be published in early 2015, prior to operational testing.

Draft NCSC Operational Test Blueprint 12-10-14

NCSC Instructional Guidance

Project SUCCESS is a resource center that supports higher academic achievement for students with disabilities. Building local capacity will ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options.

Project Success

More information can be found at

Science (Grades 4 & 6 and 10), Social Studies (Grades 5 & 7) - Indiana Standards Tools for Alternate Reporting (ISTAR)

ISTAR is a teacher rated web-based, standards-referenced assessment system designed and provided by the Indiana Department of Education. The ISTAR content is referenced to the continuum of assessment indicators that have been extended directly from the Indiana academic standards for Science and Social Studies.

Additional Resources


  • ISTAR 2014 Results are available to schools through the Learning Connection for students who met participation criteria and were assessed with ISTAR.
  • Click here to view 2014 ISTAR Results by corporation and school


Karen Stein
Special Programs Assessment Specialist
Office of Student Assessment
Telephone: (317) 232-9050
Toll Free: (888) 544-7837