Background Information

Michigan’s alternate assessment (MI-Access) is aligned with Michigan’s alternate content standards in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies. The alternate assessment is designed to allow students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) caps the percentage of students who can take the alternative assessment at one percent of the total students tested. The ESSA also allows states that may exceed the one percent cap to apply for a one-year waiver. Michigan was granted the initial waiver on May 14, 2018. In 2019 and 2021, as provided under the ESSA, Michigan applied for and received an extension to the waiver of the one percent cap on the participation rate for students taking the alternate assessment. As part of this federal waiver, MDE agreed to implement a plan to ensure students are properly assessed using the state assessment system programs. Michigan’s 2020 waiver request was rescinded when assessment requirements were waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures.

Analysis of the 2020–2021 state assessment data, when compared to 2018–2019 data, shows a reduction in the participation rate for the alternate assessment in Michigan from 2.0% to 1.7% in mathematics, from 2.1% to 1.7% in ELA, and from 1.9% to 1.8% in science.

Although progress has been made, more work needs to be done to ensure appropriate assessment selection for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Therefore, Michigan will be applying for a waiver extension for Spring 2022, which will include a plan for continued improvement.

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