NCEO Synthesis Reports: Common Misperceptions and Research-Based Recommendations for Alternate Assessment Based on Alternate Achievement Standards (#73)

Part of the NCEO Synthesis Reports series.
Rachel F Quenemoen, Jacqui Kearns, Mari Quenemoen, Claudia Flowers, Harold Kleinert


A report exploring misperceptions about assessments and the students who are assessed using Alternate Assessments based on Alternate Achievement Standards (AA-AAS). The misperceptions have been encountered by the National Alternate Assessment Center (NAAC) and National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) in their collaborative work with states and educators on the AA-AAS. AA-AAS are designed so that students with the most significant cognitive disabilities can be included in large-scale accountability testing, and promote their access to the same interesting and challenging curriculum as their peers. This report explores common misperceptions related to three major themes: (a) the characteristics of students who participate in AA-AAS; (b) the content that should be taught and assessed by teachers; and (c) issues regarding the purpose and the validity of AA-AAS outcomes. For each misperception, it proposes research-based recommendations to address them, and refers to the recent literature on assessment, curriculum, and instruction for students with the most significant disabilities to support its analysis and recommendations.


February 2010 
Number 73
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)


  • Specific life stage
    • Children
    • Adolescents and young adults
  • Educational accountability and assessment
    • Instruction
    • Standards and Accountability
    • Students with Disabilities
    • Alternate Assessments