Frequently Asked Questions

Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD)

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Materials:

Q. How are WAA-SwD materials sent?
A.
 
The WAA-SwD will be shipped the same week as the WKCE, but can be easily identified by a two inch blue dot adhered to the outside of the box. The District Assessment Coordinator will be sent all test materials. It will then be the DACs responsibility to distribute the appropriate materials to the schools and to order additional materials from DPI if necessary.
 
Q. Can a school begin testing before the test window if they received all test materials?
A.
 
No. All testing for both the WAA-SwD and the WKCE must occur within the testing window (October 28 - November 29, 2013). Test administrators may obtain WAA-SwD test materials before the test window in order to prepare accommodations for their students.
 

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Answer Documents (Bubble Sheets):

Q. Can the test administrator circle student responses in the Teacher Test Book and then go back and transfer answers onto the student answer document (bubble sheet) after test administration?
A.
 
Yes. In fact, DPI recommends this strategy.
 
Q. Are there sample items posted on the DPI website?
A.
 
Sample test items are posted on the OEA website at: http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_waa.
 

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English Language Learners:

Q. Can oral translations be provided for a student taking the WAA-SwD who is an ELL?
A.
 
Yes, for Mathematics, Science, and Reading test directions. Reading passages and answer choices must be read in English. When deciding which disability related accommodations should be provided on the WAA-SwD, refer to the student's IEP. See the assessment matrices for students with disabilties and for ELLs found at: http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_accommtrx.
 
Q. Can written translations be provided in the Student Test Book for a student taking the WAA-SwD who is an ELL?
A.
 
Yes, you may provide written translations for the Mathematics and Science tests. You may not provide written translations for the Reading test (except for "teacher read" directions), since translations are not allowed on the WKCE Reading test.
 
Q. Will DPI provide translated tests for the WAA-SwD, or should local interpreters provide translations?
A.
 
No. DPI will not provide translated WAA-SwD tests; district appointed local interpreters should be used as necessary. Guidelines for the use of translators and interpreters are posted on the ELL page of the OEA website at: http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_ells.
 

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Visually Impaired Students:

Q. How can a school request Braille or large print copies of the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
Braille materials are produced on an as needed basis. It should be noted that the WAA-SwD is already at least 18-point font, and often much larger. To request any of these materials please contact Kristen Burton at (608) 267-3164 or at kristen.burton@dpi.wi.gov.
 

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Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students:

Q. How does an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter translate items that can be read to students since it's not translated word-for-word? Can ASL phrases be signed to students even though the interpreter won’t be “sticking to the script” exactly.
A.
 
An interpreter is allowed to sign all content and items to a student if this accommodation is identified in the student’s IEP, except for the “read by student” items in the Reading portion of the test. Items and questions should be interpreted as closely as possible without changing the construct of the questions. For further information regarding deaf or hard of hearing impairment contact the Special Education Team at 608-266-1781.
 

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“Read by Student” Reading Test Items:

Q. For the “read by student” items in the Reading test, do students need to read the passage and/or answer choices aloud?
A.
 
No. Students do not have to read aloud. They may read aloud, if that is what they prefer, or they may read silently. This is the student’s choice.
 
Q. How will the test administrator know when a nonverbal student is done reading the passage so the test administrator can continue to read the question the student?
A.
 
One of the requirements for test administrators is that they know their students well, especially their communication and response styles. Test administrators should be able to judge when their student has shifted his/her attention from the reading passage onto something else. It may take some practice using the sample items to make sure that the test administrator is interpreting their student’s response correctly. The test administrator will also want to provide adequate “wait” time for the student to read the entire item.
 
Q. Can the test administrator point to the sentences and words that a student is supposed to read for a “read by student” item?
A.
 
Yes. The test administrator can have the student point to words and sentences as he/she reads or the test administrator can direct the student's attention to the sentence by pointing to the words.
 

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Social Studies/Language Arts/Writing:

Q. In what grades are Social Studies and Language Arts/Writing tested for the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
Students are assessed at grades 4, 8, and 10 in the content areas of Social Studies and Language Arts/Writing. These scores are reported with the WAA-SwD test results, but are assessed by a locally administered teacher rater form, based upon classroom evidence. They can be found at: http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_waa
 
Q. Why is there only a checklist for Social Studies and Language Arts/Writing?
A.
 
NCLB requires testing in Mathematics, Science, and Reading. Social Studies and Language Arts/Writing are required state tests, and the checklists meet the state requirements. These scores are reported with the WAA-SwD test results.
 

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Test Security:

Q. Where can test security information be found?
A.
 
There is a presentation about WKCE test security online which includes information also relevant to the WAA-SwD test security. There are also training slides for WAA-SwD Test Administration, in which test security specifically for the WAA-SwD is included. These can be found at http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_webcasts.
 
Q. If it takes several days to administer the WAA-SwD to a student, can the test administrator keep it locked in their classroom when not being used, or does the test administrator need to turn the test in to their school test coordinator every afternoon?
A.
 
A teacher/test administrator may keep the WAA-SwD locked in a drawer or file cabinet in his/her classroom during test administration. Once the test administrator is done administering the test, submit it to the test coordinator. If the school has a process that requires returning materials to a central, locked location, follow the school policy on this issue.
 
Q. Can a test administrator take a copy of the WAA-SwD test home to prepare for test administration?
A.
 
No, this would constitute a test security violation. The WAA-SwD must remain in a locked, secure location at all times when not in use. Allowing the test to leave the school compromises the security of the test and the validity of student test scores.
 

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Test Participation - General:

Q. When IEP teams look at content standards to decide whether a student will participate in the WKCE or the WAA-SwD, do they look at the grade in which the student is enrolled, or the grade at which the student functions?
A.
 
Students must be tested for the grade in which they are currently enrolled, and they should be enrolled in the grade that corresponds to their chronological age. Additionally, students should be instructed in the curriculum that is appropriate for their enrolled grade level. The curriculum used (e.g., the general curriculum based upon the WMAS or the curriculum based on the Extended Grade Band Standards found at http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/sped_assmt-extstd) is the information that should be considered when deciding if a student participates in the WKCE or WAA-SwD. The IEP team will also use the WAA-SwD Participation Checklist to determine whether a student will participate in the WKCE, with or without accommodations or the WAA-SwD with or without accommodations.
 
Q. How should IEP teams decide whether or not a student participates in the WAA-SwD with or without accommodations?
A.
 
The decision about whether or not a student takes the WAA-SwD or the WKCE with or without accommodations is made by the IEP team which use the WAA-SwD Participation Checklist. This decision should not be made based on disability area, or on which test a student would be most likely to demonstrate proficiency. Instead, IEP teams should consider the competencies taught using the Extended Grade Band Standards and the skills assessed by the WAA-SwD. The Extended Grade Band Standards provide a discrete “scope and sequence” of instruction for students with significant disabilities. The WKCE is intended for students whose instruction is based upon the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards (WMAS) for all content areas. The WAA-SwD is intended for student whose instruction is based upon the Extended Grade Band Standards for all content areas.
 
Q. When does a student qualify as having a “significant medical emergency”?
A.
 
A student qualifies as having a significant medical emergency when that health impairment renders the student incapable of participating in any academic activities, including state assessments, for the duration of the entire tesing window. If the student does not meet this criterion, the student must be administered the test.
If the student cannot participate in the state assessment because of a significant medical emergency, the labeled student answer document should be returned to the testing vendor and the student counts as not-tested. If the school does not meet accountability expectations only due to this student, the school can request reconsideration and provide evidence that the student meets the criteria.
 
Q. If students are tested during special service time by the service provider, does that service time (speech or OT, for example) need to be made up?
A.
 
Yes. Any service time missed during testing, even if the student is tested by the service provider, must be made up.
 

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Test Participation - Participation Checklist:

Q. Where is the participation checklist posted on the DPI website?
A.
 
The WAA-SwD Participation Checklist is posted on the Special Education Team page and the Office of Educational Accountability page.
 
Q. Why must students participate in either the WAA-SwD or the WKCE when participation in both tests was allowed in the past?
A.
 
The Extended Grade Band Standards provide a discrete “scope and sequence” of instruction for students with significant disabilities. Students taking the WAA-SwD will be instructed based on the Extended Grade Band Standards across all the tested content areas, thus students no longer will be tested in only one content area via the WAA-SwD. If they take the WAA-SwD, it will be for both Reading and Mathematics, and at the appropriate grades, in Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts/Writing.
 

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Test Participation - Parent Option to Opt Out:

Q. When is parent opt-out allowable on the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
When a parent or guardian requests that the student be excused from participating in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS), this request must be honored at grades 4, 8, and 10, per Wis. Stats. 118.30 (1r) 2.3. This request may come at anytime during the testing window. While not directly addressed by state statutes, districts may choose to honor parent requests to excuse their child from WSAS testing at grades 3, 5, 6, and 7, at their discretion on an individual basis. All students excused by parent opt-out count as “not tested” students for accountability purposes.
 
Q. Can a parent opt their child out of just one subject?
A.
 
No. If a parent wants to opt-out a student on the WAA-SwD, it is for the entire test.
 
Q. How do schools document that a parent has opted their child out of the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
Complete the bubble marked "P" in the testing section on the inside front cover of the WAA-SwD student Answer Document indicating that the student has opted-out.
 

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Student Response Style:

Q. Can test administrators give directions to students based on their response style (e.g., “squeeze my hand when we touch the correct answer choice") without changing what is being tested?
A.
 
If a student cannot respond orally, it is likely that the student has assistive communication strategies and devices that he or she is already using. These assistive communication strategies and devices should be used to allow the student to express his or her answers. In the given example, the test administrator should practice with the student before actually administering the test on how the student will indicate a chosen answer. The additional instruction of “squeeze my hand when I touch the correct answer choice” can be added without changing what is being tested.
 
Q. Can a student write in his/her student test book?
A.
 
Yes. A student can respond in whatever manner is best for that student, including writing on test book pages, answering orally, pointing, eye-gazing, squeezing a hand, etc.
 
Q. Does DPI need to know how a student responds (eye gaze, pointing, etc)?
A.
 
No. DPI trusts that test administrators know each student’s response style and will document answers accordingly.
 
Q. Can a test administrator save the time and bubble in “no response” for every question and just not administer the test to a student that they know won't respond to any test question? 
A.
 
No. Test administrators may only bubble in “no response” on items after they have presented the item to the student, have waited an adequate time for an answer, and have received no response from the student. Test administrators should do their best to administer the test to all students even if they think it might be too difficult. If a student is not responding, test administrators, with guidance from their district, may use their professional judgment to decide to stop test administration. Test administrators should leave the remaining items that had not been administered 'blank' and return the book to CTB for scoring.  “No Response” is a valid score response and the student will be considered a test participant in the given subject area.  Items left blank are considered not to have been administered.  
 
Q. Are test administrators able to re-do a question if they know their student can answer it?
A.
 
No. Test items can only be administered once, and test administrators cannot go back and re-administer an item later.
 

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Test Administrators and Test Administration:

Q. Are paraprofessionals allowed to administer the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
No. Paraprofessionals cannot engage in evaluation practices or evaluate students. Therefore they cannot administer the WAA-SwD.
 
Q. If a paraprofessional holds a guidance counselor degree, can he/she deliver or administer the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
No. In order to be a test administrator, he/she would have to be licensed as a guidance counselor AND be currently employed in that position.
 
Q. Should test admministrators still bubble in their student’s response even if they think that that the student is guessing and knows that they can’t read?
A.
 
Yes.
 
Q. Are Occupational Therapists (OT) and Physical Therapists (PT) considered licensed to administer the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
Yes. They can administer the test as long as they are familiar with the student and the student’s response style.
 
Q. Would it be allowable for a paraprofessional to assist a teacher in administering the WAA-SwD? Sometimes paraprofessionals are most familiar with the student’s response style.
A.
 
Yes, as long as the paraprofessional is only assisting the teacher. The paraprofessional cannot administer the test or evaluate the student. Teachers should be familiar with their students’ response styles.
 
Q. Do test administrators need to sign something ensuring that test security has been maintained and/or to ensure that they have been trained properly in administration?
A.
 
Yes. Test administrators need to sign a form to confirm that test security has been maintained. The form is called the confidentiality agreement form. A signed copy should be turned into your School Assessment Coordinator (SAC). The district is responsibile to make sure all test administrators are trained; however, there is no certification.
 
Q. Can a student teacher administer the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
No. A student teacher is neither a licensed teacher nor hired by the school/district. Student teachers may observe the administration of the WAA-SwD or may assist as needed and as appropriate.
 
Q. Does one test administrator need to administer the entire test to one student, or several test administrators take turns (as long as all are licensed and employed in an appropriate position) administering test items to a student?
A.
 
More than one licensed test administrator may give the WAA-SwD test to one student, as long as this is appropriate for the student and the test administrators are all familiar with the student's response style.
 
Q. Can an interpreter administer the test?
A.
 
No. The use of an interpreter is an accommodation and should be documented on the student IEP under accommodations for statewide assessment. The interpreter may work with a licensed teacher and be present during the administration. Use of a translator/ interpreter should follow the same guidelines as the accommodations for the WKCE. Assessment Accommodations Matrix (accommodation guidelines).
 

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Manipulatives:

Q. Do specific manipulatives that might be provided for the WAA-SwD need to be listed in a student’s IEP?
A.
 
No. The use of manipulatives is allowed for all students taking the WAA-SwD as part of the standard administration. Test administrators should ensure that the manipulatives are already used in the student’s classroom instruction so test administrators are not introducing something new in the middle of testing.
 
Q. Will DPI/CTB (test contractor) provide manipulatives for the WAA-SwD?
A.
 
No. Teachers and test administrators should choose manipulatives that are appropriate for each individual student; use the manipulatives with which the students are most familiar with.
 
Q. Is the district required to provide manipulatives?
A.
 
This is an option that districts may choose to provide to their students; however, teachers at grade 10 must provide a ruler for their students in the Mathematics portion of the test.
 
Q. When a pattern test item is shaded differently for different shapes (such as in the sample test item in the training slides), can a test administrator use different color manipulative shapes?
A.
 
This is a case when using different color manipulatives would be acceptable; however, be aware that the use of color can be a distracter to students. Some of the pattern items use shapes that are not shaded differently; in cases such as this you should not use different color shape manipulatives because it changes what the item is measuring (color and shape pattern instead of only a shape pattern).
 
Q. Can the test administrator change the script to correspond to the manipulatives used (e.g., counting discs)? For example, on the sample item where students count pictures of flowers, if a test administrator gives the student 20 counting discs to count, does the test administrator still need to say “Here are some pictures of flowers” or can they say “Here are some discs?”
A.
 
Test administrators may change only the script to appropriately fit what they are asking. Another example would be if the test administrator provides actual dimes instead of pictures of dimes.
 
Q. Giving students manipulatives may allude to the correct answers, thus changing the construct of the assessment. Howe does DPI monitor the use of manipulatives.
A.
 
DPI is expecting teachers and test administrators to be very careful with the choices of manipulatives and to question on every item whether a manipulative changes the construct of what the test item is intended to measure.
 

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Accommodations - Calculators:

Q. Since calculators are not allowed on the WAA-SwD, what should educators do for students who have calculator skills in an IEP?
A.
 
The WAA-SwD is based on the Extended Grade Band Standards, which do not include calculator skills; however, this does not mean that these skills should not be taught. The IEP reflects the student’s disability-related needs, not solely their state assessment needs. Objectives in IEPs must be taught, so educators should teach calculator skills to those students who have this specified in their IEP.
 

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Accommodations - Prompts and Answer Choices:

Q. Can the order of the teacher prompt be changed? For example, can the test administrators read the test question first, and then read the answer choices?
A.
 
No, but test administrators may go back and re-read the answer choices again after they read the test question. For example, “2, 5, 10. How many pictures of flowers are there? 2, 5, 10.”
 
Q. If the answer choices have pictures that are labeled, but the test administrator knows that the student will be distracted by them, can the test administrator choose not to read the labels?
A.
 
Test administrators must stick to the script. If the script asks the test administrator to read the answer choices as they point to them, then the test administrator must do so.
 
Q. The WAA-SwD test administration materials say that test administrators have to stick to the script. Are test administrators allowed to clarify/simplify this language?
A.
 
Test administrators may not clarify, simplify, paraphrase, reword, etc. any test item on the WAA-SwD. The language on the WAA-SwD has already been simplified.
 
Q. Can test administrators color in pictures on the student test book pages? For example, a sample science problem involving a graphic of the solar system might be more easily understood by my student if it was colored in (yellow sun, blue and green Earth).
A.
 
No, test administrators cannot color in test items; that is a modification of the test item and not allowed.
 
Q. Can Picture Exchange Communication (PEC) symbols be used to replace graphics in the WAA-SwD tests?
A.
 
Yes. This would be considered a use of an appropriate manipulative.
 
Q. Can test administrators change the answer choices if they do not relate to a student’s experience? For example, the test administrator has a student who doesn’t eat solid food since he is fed using a gastric tube. For an item where there are hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries on a menu, can the test administrator say hat, scarf and gloves instead?
A.
 
No. WAA-SwD items were chosen with as much universality of experience as possible in mind when they were developed. Changing what items are listed on the menu from food to winter clothing items might change a student’s response. While the student might not eat such food, the student has likely been exposed to it in his/her everyday life.
 

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Accommodations - Touch Point Numbers and Number Lines:

Q. Are touch-point numbers allowed as an accommodation?
A.
 
Yes, if it is in a student’s IEP. Only numbers 1 through 9 are allowed, and then only on a separate sheet of paper or on a number line. Test administrators may not draw on touch point circles on the student test book pages; however, the student may do so on his/her own.
 
Q. Are touch-point money manipulatives allowed?
A.
 
No, not it if they define for a student how much a particular coin or bill is worth, since that is what is being measured in a money item (the skill of knowing that a quarter is worth 25 cents, for example). Basic money manipulatives are allowed if they do not hint at or identify the value of the coin/dollar.
 
Q. Can a number line be used?
A.
 
A 1-9 number line may be used.
 
Q. Are test administrators able to leave visuals cues (e.g., alphabet, calendar, etc.) up in the room?
A.
 
Yes. It is not necessary to cover up materials on classroom walls if they are part of the normal classroom environment. If the students have support materials taped directly on their desks, such as multiplication facts or other computation aids, those should be covered or removed.
 

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Accommodations - Other:

Q. Will DPI provide a list of acceptable modifications for the WAA-SwD administration?
A.
 
No. Modifications are not allowed on the WAA-SwD, since a modification changes what a test item measures. However, there is a list of acceptable accommodations available called the Assessment Accommodations Matrix.
 
Q. Does a scribe need to be documented in the student’s IEP since the test administrator will be recording student answers?
A.
 
No. The scribe accommodation is not applicable to the WAA-SwD since students are not required to write their responses.
 
Q. Can the test administrator point to the sentences and words that a student is supposed to read for a “read by student” item?
A.
 
Yes. Test administrators can have the student point to words and sentences as he/she reads or test administrators can direct the student's attention to the sentence.
 
Q. If a school uses IEP software, is it okay to write in the accommodations for the students?
A.
 
Yes.
 
Q Can graphics be photocopied?
A.
 
In very limited circumstances, district or school assessment coordinators may provide teachers with photocopies of WAA-SwD graphics for use during testing. For example, a student may have a wide eye gaze or a student may require this accommodation for sequencing constructed response items. Teachers must present all items that are photocopied in the order and manner that they appear in the Student Test Booklet. The DAC and SAC should monitor the use and the distribution of this accommodation and ensure test security. All copies must be destroyed after test administration as they contain live test materials. Appropriate techniques for destroying materials include utilization of a commercial document shredding company, cross-cut shredders, and incineration.
 
Q Do educators put all accommodations on the IEP?
A.
 
Yes, all accommodations that will be used on the test should be listed in the student's IEP. Educators should examine the Teacher sample test items and Student sample test items. Think about how instruction is provided to your student and whether any of the accommodations they usually use in the classroom would be appropriate while administering the WAA-SwD. Educators may also want to reacquaint themselves with Wisconsin’s Assessment Accommodation Matrix which provides accommodation guidelines.
 

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Test Format:

Q. Is there a reason that answer choices in the Student Test Book are always arranged in a triangle format?
A.
 
Yes. Wisconsin educators decided on this format during the item and content bias review phase. This format allows larger font and graphics. Educators believed this is the least visually-distracting page layout for students.
 
Q. Approximately, how many items are on the test and how long does it take to administer?
A.
 
There will be approximately 30 items in each content area. The administration time will vary greatly from student to student, but the average expected administration time is about one hour per content area.
 
Q. Are the test items ordered by difficulty?
A.
 
No. Test items are not arranged in terms of a progressively increasing level of difficulty. Test items of varying difficulty are spread throughout the test. Test administrators are encouraged to administer all test items to the student.
 

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Timing of Test:

Q. Does all of one content area for the WAA-SwD need to be administered in one day?
A.
 
No. Test administrators may administer as many questions in one sitting as is appropriate for the student as long as the entire test is completed within the test window. The test administrators need to keep the test materials secure when not in use.
 

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Communication with Parents:

Q. Is there a brochure available for parents that explains the alternate assessment?
A.
 
Yes. DPI has created the Student/Parent Pre-Test Information Brochure which gives information about the test. DPI also provides translated copies of the brochure in Hmong and Spanish.
 
Q. Is there a letter or brochure available for parents that explains the extended grade band standards?
A.
 
DPI has created has developed a brochure that explains the standards.
 

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1% and 2% Assessments:

Q. Is it true that only 1% of students can participate in the alternate assessment?
A.
 
No. All eligible students should participate in the WAA-SwD. Eligibility is determined by the IEP team using the WAA-SwD participation checklist. Students scoring in the WAA-SwD Proficient or WAA-SwD Advanced categories are included as Proficient when calculating school and district accountability as well as in some reports. At the district level, however, the number of students who took the alternate assessment may be counted as proficient or above for accountability purposes is capped at 1% of all students enrolled in the tested grades, unless an exemption is documented and approved by DPI. This limitation applies only to districts and not individual schools. Districts may be required to complete the waiver form if they exceed the 1% cap. DPI will contact the district to determine if circumstances warrant a district waiver.
 
Q. What if a small district has enough students taking the alternate assessment that more than 1% of the students could count as proficient for the 1% proficiency cap?
A.
 
DPI may request that the district complete a waiver form with appropriate assurances if the number of students exceeds the 1% cap. DPI will contact the district to determine if circumstances warrant a district waiver. The decision to participate in the WAA-SwD is made using the WAA-SwD Participation Checklist rather than the student's impact on district accountability calculations.
 

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