New platform assesses students with cognitive disabilities

Open-source assessment system is based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities

Breakthrough Technologies and the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) have partnered on and completed development of an online delivery platform for a new assessment program for students with cognitive disabilities.

The NCSC alternate assessment evaluates knowledge of Common Core Math and ELA (reading and writing) standards at grades 3-8 and 11.

NCSC’s goal is to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for postsecondary options.

To achieve this goal, it applies lessons learned from the past decade of research to alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (AAAAS) to develop a multistate comprehensive assessment system for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Breakthrough worked with NCSC to develop the online delivery platform for the assessment system, which includes 30–35 items for each subject, mostly selected-response; one writing prompt per grade, allowing multiple modes of response and direct student input to online test, or teacher-entered responses.

NCSC chose to work with Breakthrough, since the company is recognized as the nation’s leading developer of open-source technology for K–12 assessments. Breakthrough brought its innovative and extensive technology and assessment platform expertise to the project.

“We have worked tirelessly to push forward the use of open-source technologies in education since it provides a cost-effective, scalable, and impactful way for organizations to teach and assess students,” said Doug Wilson from Breakthrough Technologies. “We were thrilled to work with NCSC to develop a platform that will have such a significant positive impact on children with cognitive disabilities, their parents and their teachers.”

Breakthrough incorporated the TAO open-source test delivery system for the NCSC assessment, which runs in current web browsers without requiring users to download any software onto local computers. Breakthrough’s system ensures the security of test and scoring data, and seamlessly links student enrollment, administrator qualification, and student demographic data functions with the test delivery platform. To learn more about the platform and watch a short video, click here.

Laura Ascione
Latest posts by Laura Ascione (see all)

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at