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January 2024 Agenda Item 07 Attachment 1

California Department of Education (CDE) Seal
California State Board of Education (SBE) Seal

State Superintendent of Public Instruction
1430 N Street Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
State Board President
1430 N Street, Room 5111, Sacramento, CA 95814

December 4, 2023

Adam Schott, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs
Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Glenna Wright-Gallo, Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Rehabilitative Services
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Deputy Assistant Secretary Schott and Assistant Secretary Wright-Gallo:

Subject: The 1.0 Percent Cap for Alternate Assessments

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education (collectively, California) received a letter on October 27, 2023, from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regarding the percentage of California’s students with the most significant cognitive disabilities taking alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS) in the 2021‒22 school year.

California acknowledges that in 2021–22, AA-AAAS participation rates were slightly higher than the 1.0 percent cap allowed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 for reading/language arts and mathematics and under the 1.0 percent cap for science. California’s 2021–22 general assessment participation rates for all students were higher than 95 percent for reading/language arts. Participation rates were lower than 95 percent for all students in science and mathematics as well as for the students with disabilities group in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.

Although California exceeded the 1.0 percent cap slightly in 2021–22, the decision to assign an AA-AAAS to a student with the most significant cognitive disabilities is determined at the local level and considers individual student needs through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

California appreciates the ED’s continued support of our efforts and acknowledgment that meeting the requirement to assess no more than 1.0 percent of students with an AA-AAAS would take time and require adjustments to our practices, processes, and policies. In support of those efforts, California sent a team of four staff members and two contractor personnel to attend the State Assessment Conference in September 2023. California is working to implement some of the shared lessons learned from states that have been successful in reducing their overall AA-AAAS participation rates.

California has worked and will continue to work with our local educational agencies (LEAs) and education partners to ensure maximum participation rates and to ensure that every student is taking the most appropriate assessment based on individual need. In Table 1, below, and the sections that follow, California provides an update on our participation-related accomplishments over the past year as well as a plan and timeline of key activities to meet the following grant condition requirements:

  • Submit, by December 15, 2023, a revised plan for how the state will come into compliance with the requirement to assess no more than 1.0 percent of students with an AA-AAAS. In its October 27, 2023, letter, ED requested that California provide its response within 30 calendar days, or by November 27, 2023. On November 17, 2023, upon CDE request, ED confirmed an extension until December 15, 2023, for California to provide its response.

  • Demonstrate that the state assessed less than 1.0 percent of its students with an AA-AAAS in reading/language arts and mathematics.

Table 1. Update of Accomplishments, Plan, and Timeline of Key Activities for Compliance with the 1.0 Percent Requirement for Alternate Assessments
Description of Activity 2023 Completion Date 2023 Completion Status 2024 Anticipated Completion
  1. Presentation of 1.0 percent threshold requirements and Alternative Assessment Decision-Making worksheet to California Special Education Local Planning Area administrators

July 2023


July 2024

  1. Presentation of the 1.0 percent threshold requirements to LEA coordinators at the annual statewide Assessment and Accountability Information Meeting

August 2023


August 2024

  1. Notification to LEA superintendents about the requirement to test all students and the importance of reporting and providing justification for potentially exceeding the 1.0 percent threshold; administration of the 1.0 Percent Threshold Survey to LEAS

Fall 2023


Fall 2024

  1. Analysis of 1.0 percent survey data to identify LEAs that did not complete the 1.0 percent threshold survey; California conducts multiple outreach efforts to follow up with LEAs that did not report

Fall 2023


Fall 2024

  1. Submission of the request for a waiver of the 1.0 percent cap if a review of the prior year administration data indicates a need for such a request

Fall 2023


Fall 2024

  1. Presentation of the 1.0 percent threshold requirements and Alternate Assessment Decision-Making worksheet at conferences and meetings

October 2023


October 2024

  1. Review of guidelines and provision of guidance on eligibility for participation in the AA-AAAS included as part of the pretest workshops throughout the state to support LEAs in the appropriate identification of students for alternate assessments

September 2013 – February 2024


September 2023 – February 2024

  1. Provide the Special Education Division a list of LEAs that exceeded the 1.0 percent threshold in the previous year to inform monitoring

January 2024


January 2025

  1. Review data and conduct outreach efforts to LEAs exceeding the 1.0 percent cap and indicating potential disproportionality




Additional Accomplishments
  • California continues to participate in the National Center on Educational Outcomes meetings. The information gathered at these meetings facilitates communications with LEAs that have been identified as having exceeded the 1.0 percent threshold. Participation in the National Center on Educational Outcomes meetings will continue to support California’s ongoing efforts to move toward compliance.

  • In coordination with our assessment contractor, ETS, California created the State Assessment Metric Interface in our Test Operations Management System, which allows for real-time monitoring of the percentage of students taking AA-AAAS in the state.

  • To guide and support IEP teams in determining if a student is appropriately assessed with an alternate assessment, the CDE has developed an Alternate Assessment Decision-Making Tool for LEAs to use during IEP meetings. The Alternate Assessment Decision-Making Tool PDF is available through the CDE website at

  • The CDE revised its Alternate Assessment IEP Team Guidance web page at to assist IEP teams in determining if alternate assessments are the most appropriate assessments for an individual student with the most significant cognitive disabilities. This web page asserts that IEP teams must consider a student’s individual characteristics when determining if a student with a disability should participate in the general statewide assessments or in the alternate assessments.

  • The CDE presents at various conferences across the state to LEAs about appropriately identifying students for the AA-AAAS. In addition, the CDE answers questions and provides outreach and resources to LEAs.

Monitoring Plan

As part of the CDE process to improve educational results and functional outcomes for all children with disabilities and to ensure that public agencies meet program requirements most closely related to improving educational results for children with disabilities, the CDE annually monitors disproportionality as related to the identification of students for special education along with the identification of students identified for alternate assessments. The data identifying LEAs that exceeded the 1.0 percent cap is included with the CDE Special Education Division’s monitoring data as part of the process to develop targeted, content-specific training and support aimed at addressing each LEA’s unique needs.

Along with ongoing monitoring of the provision of accessibility resources provided through the IEP, the CDE monitors random samples of students within identified LEAs to ensure that students with disabilities are appropriately identified for alternate assessments and given the accessibility resources required per their IEP. Monitoring includes a comparison of the accessibility resources in the student’s IEP and those made available to the student on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests, which include the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics; the California Science Test; and the California Alternate Assessments for English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. Once an LEA is selected for a monitoring activity, student files are selected for review. LEAs identified for noncompliance will be required to go through a corrective action process. Continued LEA overage of the 1.0 percent cap is in the identification process for Compliance and Improvement Monitoring by the CDE Special Education Division.

California is committed to ensuring that all its students with disabilities are assessed appropriately and will continue to provide monitoring and technical assistance in this regard. California looks forward to working with ED to ensure ongoing compliance with federal law.

If you have any questions related to this letter, please contact Natasha Middleton, Federal Policy Liaison, Government Affairs Division, at 916-319-0570 or


State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

California State Board of Education


This letter is referenced as Item 07 Attachment 1 on the SBE Agenda for January 2024.

Last Reviewed: Friday, January 5, 2024
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