Achievement & Assessment Institute


The Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment System is a computer-based assessment system for students with significant cognitive disabilities for whom general state assessments are not appropriate, even with accommodations. DLM assessments offer students in grade three through high school a better way to show what they know and can do.

DLM assessments are administered in many states across the United States. These states’ departments of education collectively comprise the Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium. The Consortium is facilitated by the Center for Accessible Teaching, Learning & Assessment Systems (ATLAS) at the University of Kansas in partnership with the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The DLM project was initially funded through a five-year $22 million grant, awarded in late 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The Consortium now self-funds all activities, including ongoing assessment development, research, and assessment administration.

Visit Dynamic Learning Maps for more information.

ATLAS partners with the Kansas State Department of Education to provide the Kansas Assessment Program, including general summative assessments in English language arts, mathematics, and science, to support educators and policymakers in evaluating student learning and to meet the requirements for federal and state accountability. The Kansas Assessment Program also includes interim academic assessments, the Kansas English Language Proficiency Assessment (KELPA), and the Career Pathways Assessment System (CPASS), which provides assessments to test high school students’ readiness for technical training or entry into the workforce. The Kansas Assessment Program also includes Dynamic Learning Maps and, beginning in 2020, Enhanced Learning Maps.

Visit the Kansas Assessment Program website for more information.

I-SMART (Innovations in Science Map, Assessment, and Report Technologies) is a four-year, $3.8 million research and development project funded in late 2016 by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education's Enhanced Assessment Grant program. The Maryland State Department of Education leads the project in collaboration with a project governance board that includes representatives from state departments of education in Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma as well as advisors. Researchers at ATLAS lead the research arm of the project, along with staff from CAST and BYC Consulting.

The project is focused on research activities to support science teaching and learning for students who take alternate assessments, and students with or without disabilities who take general assessments but perform significantly below grade level. I-SMART will integrate DLM science learning map models with cross-disciplinary content in the ELA and mathematics maps. Additional activities include developing and piloting innovative science testlets and designing a prototype interactive reporting dashboard.

Visit I-SMART for more information.

5E-SESE (5E-Model Professional Development in Science Education for Special Educators) is a four-year, $1.4 million development and innovation project funded in late 2018 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences Grant program. Researchers at ATLAS lead the project in collaboration with partners from UNC Charlotte; a project governance board that includes representatives from state departments of education in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin; and advisors. Researchers at ATLAS and UNC Charlotte lead the research and design and development teams, working with additional staff from KU.

The 5E-SESE system integrates best practices from science education and universal design in an online professional development system.  Content modules and individualized coaching help teachers develop the capacity to provide effective science instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The overall design of the system engages teachers in a series of 5E learning cycles that provide experience with the same type of learning cycle they will implement with their own students.

Visit 5E-SESE for more information.

The SWIM (Shared Writing Instructional Model) project is focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating a model of writing instruction for students with disabilities in grade K-5. The SWIM system supports student progress toward achieving grade-level expectations, attainment of appropriately ambitious instructional goals, and the development of additional self-regulation skills. One major component of the system is an online dashboard that integrates learning map models, instructional resources, and assessments into a single interface. A coaching component is designed to support the model and build teacher capacity in SWIM implementation.

Visit the Shared Writing Instructional Model website for more information.

Special Educator Technology-Based Training of Trainers (SETTT) for Success leverages Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and evidence-based technology and professional development practices to implement effective online professional learning for trainers as they design and deliver professional development for teachers. The SETTT for Success project includes resources, a trainer professional learning cycle, and technology to support trainers’ design of effective professional development. SETTT for Success maintains a specific focus on improving professional development for teachers who provide academic instruction for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Visit the SETTT for Success website for more information.


The Enhanced Learning Maps (ELM) project provides standards-focused materials that foster the conditions for improving student achievement, including online tools deliberately designed to support and inform personalized learning. These tools encourage interactions that elicit evidence of student thinking, leading to conversations that engage students and teachers in the formative assessment process. Learning map models illustrate the connections among concepts and skills that students need to construct; instructional activities suggest ideas for teaching; and solution guides provide insights for diagnosing misconceptions and informing next steps in learning.

Visit Enhanced Learning Maps for more information.


The Accessibility for Technology-Enhanced Assessments (ATEA) project identified how to validly and accurately include students with vision and/or motor disabilities on computerized assessments, including assessments given on laptop computers and touch-screen tablets. It also identified alternate methods of access to innovative and interactive test items for these students. The Kansas Department of Education led the grant activities, and state departments of education in Michigan, Missouri, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin also participated. Visit the archived  ATEA Assessments website for more information. on the ATEA project, its results, and for a catalog of item types accessible to students with vision and/or motor disabilities.


The Adaptive Reading Motivation Measure (ARMM) grant project focused on developing a computer-based tool to measure student reading motivation. The pilot study included students in grades 5-12 who participated in a field-test of the online measure, which consisted of 65 questions covering six hypothesized aspects of reading motivation. These aspects included autonomy, self-efficacy, intrinsic, extrinsic, perceived difficulty, and social motivation. Students who participated in the field-test received individualized student results, which teachers could use to identify students who were low in motivation to read and to identify what approaches might be used to increase their motivation. A sample of these individualized student reports is depicted below.

Samples of Individual Class Score Reports

The individual report below summarizes the student's reading motivation scores in six categories. The colored bars represent the scores, but in graph form. The motivation categories with high scores are in blue and categories with low scores are in red.

Individual report bar graph sample

The class report provides the scores of all students in your class who participated in the ARMM assessment. The graph summarizes individual student scores from the entire class, ranging from 0-100, for six reading motivation categories,followed by the summary table of these scores. For each reading motivation category, the graph presents the number of students with the highest score in this category.

Class report sample