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.

ATLAS partners with the Kansas State Department of Education to provide the Kansas Assessment Program (site opens in a new window), 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 cPass® assessments (Career Pathways Assessment System) (site opens in a new window), which provide 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.

I-SMART (Innovations in Science Map, Assessment, and Report Technologies) (site opens in a new window) is a four-year research project that seeks to bring rigorous science assessments to students with significant cognitive disabilities and other struggling learners. I-SMART’s goal is to narrow the gap between the Next Generation Science Standards and existing learning models in order to increase science achievement.

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.

SWIM (Shared Writing Instructional Model) (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.

The Enhanced Learning Maps (ELM) (site opens in a new window) project, 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 builds on years of academic research into how to best use assessment for enhancing student achievement. ELM participating teachers receive 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 allow teachers to use formative assessment to learn how to best personalize their instruction to meet each individual student’s needs. The project seeks to serve as a shining example of properly implemented assessment for learning.