New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA)

In New York State, alternative assessments may be given to eligible students who have severe disabilities. “Students with severe disabilities” are students who have limited mental (cognitive or thinking) abilities, behavioral and/or physical limitations. These students need specialized schooling and/or social, mental and medical care to reach their potential.

New York State Alternate Assessment Eligibility

Eligibility is decided by the Committee of Special Education (CSE) based on these factors:

  • The child must have a severe mental disability.
  • A major shortfall in communication or language.
  • A major shortfall in adaptive behavior.
  • The child must need a specialized educational program that makes it easier to learn and use skills, in normal environments, such as the home, school, community and workplace.
  • The child must need educational supports:
    o Assistive technology
    o Personal care services
    o Health/medical care
    o Behavioral interventions
  • When a child who is NYSAA eligible graduates or ages out of school, they will get a Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential (SACC or Skills Credential).

What is a Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential and what does it do?

  • This is a skill based certificate, NOT A DIPLOMA.
  • Meant to improve, after graduation, choices for people with severe disabilities.
  • Promote learning experiences that support useful, basic academic and career skills.
  • Focus on a course of study and instruction linked to Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Learning Standards.
  • Document a student’s strengths, independence and the skill level the student reaches.


  • Federal laws say that all students must be measured (assessed) in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science and Social Studies.
  • New York State Alternate Assessment measurements (assessments) are tied to the Common Core Learning Standards, for ELA and Math.
  • IEP (Individualized Education Program), goals should support the skills needed to help the child take part in the assessments.
  • Substitute (Alternate) Assessments are for students that find the standard course of study with changes (adaptations) still very hard.
  • New York State Alternate Assessments can make schooling more useful, and tailored for students with severe disabilities.
  • A file (data-folio) is developed by the teacher based on the work the student does in the classroom. This is NOT extra work.
  • Districts use scores to measure yearly progress, but the scores are not tied to the student’s grades or classes.
  • NYSAA eligible students are measured when their peers are taking part in standard assessments.


Grade English (ELA*) Math Science Social Studies
3rd Yes Yes
4th Yes Yes Yes
5th Yes Yes
6th Yes Yes
7th Yes Yes
8th Yes Yes Yes
9-12th Once* Once* Once* Once*

*ELA is English Language Arts
*Once (Must be done once)

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