National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) - Alternate Assessment Alternate Standards (AA-AAS)NCSC logo

The Maine Department of Education is a partner in the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) one of two federally supported consortia developing an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards aligned  with Maine’s Proficiency Standards that will test students' knowledge of English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The work of the collaborative is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the General Supervision Enhancement Grants program.

This high-quality assessment offers educators informative data about the academic achievement and growth of their students. NCSC’s goal is to ensure that students with the most significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options.


Maine schools are on track to begin using the NCSC Assessment in the spring of 2015 for eligible students in grades 3 through 8 and in their third year of high school for ELA and mathematics. The assessment will replace the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP) taken by students with the most significant cognitive disabilities for ELA and mathematics only.

Format and Technology

The NCSC assessment offers an on-line, adaptive assessment.  Students may access this assessment in a variety of ways, depending on their needs. Some will interact with the computer and the testing platform directly, with the test administrator monitoring their work. The traditional paper and pencil option is also available, as are specific individual student accommodations.

The on-line platform will require the following operating systems: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, or Windows 8. The following internet browsers may be used: Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 24, Chrome 26, Opera 12, or Safari 6.

Summative Assessment

The NCSC assessment will fulfill the testing requirements of federal education laws. The first operational test will be held during a two month window in the spring of 2015.

Instructional Resources

The NCSC assessment system offers a wide range of curriculum and instructional resources.  Core Content Connectors (CCCs) link grade level proficiency standards to content areas. LASSIs (Language Activities with Scripted Systematic Instructions) and MASSIs (Math Activities with Scripted Systemic Instruction) provide instruction in four levels of increasing difficulty, which target CCCs that are a priority for the assessment. These Content Modules are available to teachers to provide a deeper understanding of complex concepts as well as adaptations and modifications to consider for instruction. Monitoring tools and classroom assessments to measure student progress toward meeting alternate achievement standards are also available to assist educators in customizing instruction and guiding student understanding of concepts. These resources are available on-line here.

Assessment Development

NCSC has involved educators from 26 states in developing the various aspects of a new generation of alternate assessment tools.  Pilot 1 was conducted this past spring; 10 schools from Maine participated.  Item review work is being completed this summer, as are many other updates and revisions developed through teacher input and testing analysis obtained from Pilot 1.  Pilot 2 will occur October 20, 2014 – November 14, 2014. All schools in Maine are encouraged to participate in this pilot. The opportunity for Maine teachers to preview the assessment and contribute input is essential to the last stages of development for this alternate assessment.

Visit the NCSC website for more information


Sue Nay
Alternate Assessment Coordinator