Statewide Assessment:Students with Disabilities

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA 2015) requires that all Minnesota students, including students with disabilities, be assessed annually in reading, mathematics and science in applicable grades. Individual Education Program (IEP) teams determine the appropriate manner for students with disabilities to participate in statewide assessments: by taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) with or without accommodations or, for students who meet the eligibility criteria, taking the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), the alternate assessment.

ESEA also requires that all English learners be assessed annually in grades K–12 in English language proficiency. Students with disabilities who are English learners (ELLs) participate in the ACCESS for ELLs or, for students who meet the participation criteria, the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, the alternate assessment.

Manual on Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The Minnesota Department of Education provided grant funds to the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the University of Minnesota to develop the Minnesota Manual of Accommodations for Students with Disabilities in Instruction and Assessment and other related resources. Note that these resources were last updated in 2009; while information is still relevant and useful for IEP teams, references to specific legislation, other resources, and contact information may be out of date.
  • The manual is a resource for IEP teams to use in determining the need for, and relationship between, accommodations used in instruction and in assessment.
  • The Training Guide is a companion to the manual to help schools and others use the manual effectively.
  • A presentation for school personnel is available to support face-to-face training on accommodations.
Use the links under Offsite Resources on this page to view the manual training guide and presentation on the NCEO website.

Participation in Statewide Testing

The IEP team determines how an individual student with a disability will participate in statewide testing each year for each subject in the grade levels that standards-based accountability assessments are offered. If the student is also an English learner, the team makes determinations about how the student will participate in English language proficiency accountability assessments. The decisions are documented in the student’s IEP.

The Procedures Manual for Minnesota Assessments contains information on accommodations for statewide testing in Chapter 5; it is posted to PearsonAccess Next under the Resources & Training tab on the Policies and Procedures page. The Eligibility Requirements for the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) helps IEP teams determine the most appropriate assessment option designed to measure progress toward academic standards for a student with a significant cognitive disability.

For more information about the alternate assessments (MTAS and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs), refer to the Minnesota Tests page.