Our Mission

ATLAS promotes learning and improved outcomes for all students, with a special focus on students with disabilities, by creating accessible, technology-based learning and assessment systems.

Our learning map models, assessment design, and teacher resources are informed by the center’s research projects and by innovations in psychometrics that support the measurement of map-based learning. ATLAS fosters partnerships with diverse organizations that share our focus and commitment.

Projects and Programs

The center’s primary assessment system, Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) (site opens in a new window), is designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. DLM assessments are available in English language arts, mathematics, and science and are administered in 20 states. ATLAS also develops and delivers customized alternate assessments in social studies for individual states.

5E-Model Professional Development in Science Education for Special Educators (5E-SESE) (site opens in a new window) is a development and innovation project to help teachers develop necessary knowledge and skills to provide effective inquiry-based science instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The 5E-SESE system includes professional development modules and instructional coaching.

measr is a three-year Institute of Education Sciences grant that will reduce barriers to entry for educational researchers and make estimating diagnostic models more intuitive. This user-friendly R package for the estimation and evaluation of diagnostic classification models, will provide improved model estimation techniques. Additionally, measr will include functions to easily evaluate how well the estimated model fits the observed data. Visit the measr website (site opens in a new window) for more information, including the package code currently in development.

Pathways for Instructionally Embedded Assessment (PIE) (site opens in a new window) is a four-year, $2.5 million grant project to develop an innovative assessment model that provides general education students opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and skills as they learn.

The project will use research-based cognitive models of learning as the basis for assessments that give educators timely information about their students’ academic progress. Learning pathways created for the PIE project will help teachers guide their students to academic success by showing them where the student is, where the student has been, and where the student is going. Teachers can then tailor instruction throughout the school year to better ensure that students make progress toward grade-level academic achievement.

PIE is a proof-of-concept project that will serve approximately 1,500 fifth-grade general education math students and their teachers in Missouri, potentially serving thousands more if developed for full-scale use.

The Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) (site opens in a new window) is a four-year project funded by the Office of Special Education programs (OSEP) 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. The SWIM project also supports teachers through an online dashboard that integrates learning map models, instructional resources, and assessments into a single interface, as well as coaching supports for implementation of the model.

The Special Educator Technology-Based Training of Trainers (SETTT) (site opens in a new window) project 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.

Writing and Revising Interventions to Excel (WRITE) (site opens in a new window) is a three-year, $1.75 million grant funded by Alaska’s Office of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Alaska Native Education program. WRITE researchers will design research-based learning map models for Alaska career and technical education (CTE) teachers and their students in grades 9-12. The innovative project will reach more than 3,000 students in 10 rural school districts.

Concluded Projects

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 Enhanced Learning Maps (ELM) project was a four-year project funded by the United States Department of Education to rethink formative assessment with our partner teachers in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The project built on years of academic research into how to best use assessment for enhancing student achievement. ELM participating teachers received access to a library of specially made instructional materials to be used in conjunction with the project’s proprietary learning map software, which visually depicts for teachers the many learning targets students must successively reach in pursuit of full understanding of academic standards. These tools collectively allowed teachers to use formative assessment to learn how to best personalize their instruction to meet each individual student’s needs. The project sought to serve as a shining example of properly implemented assessment for learning. Visit the archived Enhanced Learning Maps project website for more information on the ELM project, its results, and documentation about the project.

I-SMART (Innovations in Science Map, Assessment, and Report Technologies) was a four-year research project that sought to bring rigorous science assessments to students with significant cognitive disabilities and other struggling learners. I-SMART’s goal was to narrow the gap between the Next Generation Science Standards and existing learning models in order to increase science achievement. Visit the archived I-SMART project website for more information on informational videos about innovations from the project, learning maps, and various publications about the project.