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Alternate Assessments

All publicly funded students with significant disabilities (SWSD) enrolled in grades 3 through 9 are required to participate in a statewide assessment for reading and math. All publicly funded students in grades 5, 8, and 11 are assessed in science. Students who cannot participate in the general assessment with accommodations may be eligible to take an alternate assessment. 

The Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) 

Multi-State Alternate Assessment Portal – ELA/Math/Science

Cognia will be setting up user profiles for Test Coordinators (TCs) between February 20 and February 23, 2024. The Agency of Education (AOE) will work with LEAs prior to February 20 to ensure that the TC information that we have is accurate. After LEA TCs have their user profiles, the MSAA Portal will become open to users, who will need to complete MSAA training modules (on or after February 26) before they have full access to the platform. Full access will include the ability to enter and update student information, and to complete Learner Characteristic Inventories (LCIs). The testing window for the MSAA will run from March 11 to April 26, which is the same testing window as the general assessment (i.e., VTCAP). 

In preparation for the opening of the user creation window, the AOE recommends that LEAs familiarize themselves with the following documents: 

  • AOE Memo: New Alternate Assessment Implementation for SY’22-’23: This memo identifies Cognia as Vermont’s new vendor for the Alternate Assessment, gives context around why that decision was made, and provides an introductory timeline and milestones for implementation. 
  • The Test Administration Manual (TAM) provides important test administration dates and contact information for the questions that may come up as a part of test administration. The manual includes: 
    • administration procedures for before, during, and after testing
    • guidance on who can administer the tests  
    • test designs  
    • accessibility features and accommodations  
    • test security protocols  
  • The MSAA 2023 System User Guides include separate guides for Test Administrators and Test Coordinators. Those guides: 
    • are customized for the specific functions of each user role  
    • provide clear step-by step directions with screenshots for navigating the MSAA System  
    • outline MSAA testing procedures  
    • include MSAA technology specifications  
  • Sample Test Items: Educators can now access sample items for the 2023 Multi State Alternate Assessment. MSAA profiles are not required to view this content.
  • The Test Coordinator Checklist identifies important items for Test Coordinators (or Alternate District test Administrators —ADAs) to complete as a part of their coordinating the administration of the MSAA.

  • The Test Administrator Checklist identifies important items for Test Coordinator/ADA-identified Test Administrators to complete as a part of their preparing to administer the MSAA.

  • The 2023 MSAA Administration FAQs will be updated regularly by the AOE throughout the administration of the 2023 MSAA.

Vermont Alternate Assessment Student Eligibility Criteria

The Vermont Alternate Assessment Student Eligibility Criteria Checklist document will assist special educators and IEP teams in determining a student’s eligibility to assess using an alternate assessment. Because this is a very small percentage of the population, most students who qualify will take the alternate assessment in all three content areas: English Language Arts, Math, and Science. 

The Vermont Agency of Education is currently working to implement the MSAA computer adaptive assessment starting in the spring of 2023. In order to prepare for this assessment, please ensure your instruction is based on the Core Content Connectors, which are only used for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. 


For the Alternate Assessment, questions can be directed as follows:  

MSAA Technical Support questions: MSAA Service Center  

Phone: (866) 834-8879   


Live Chat: Link at the bottom of the MSAA System Dashboard 

Questions about student-specific modifications and accommodations, including accommodations and modifications for English Learners: 

Questions about the MSAA Consortium and all other alternate assessment questions: Emma Rose McCadden at  

Questions about transferring data from the Cambium Reporting System: Glenn Bailey at