TCAP Alternate (TCAP-Alt) are assessments in science and social studies designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3–8 and grade 10 and measure student mastery of the Tennessee Academic Standards. While the TCAP-Alt covers grade-level standards at a simplified level, it also includes many built-in supports, modified materials, and accommodations. The TCAP-Alt was developed by Tennessee educators who ensured the assessment questions were aligned to standards and  accessible to students with the most significant disabilities. 


TCAP-Alt is in a paper-and-pencil format. The teacher reads test questions to the student and transcribes the student’s answer choice on a scannable form.

Each assessment (science and social studies) will include 20–30 multiple choice questions. Each question has 2–3 possible correct answer choices.


The test must be administered by a Tennessee certified and licensed educator employed by the district.

Timing and Length

The test may be administered over a two-month window beginning March 16 through May 8, 2020.

The test may be stopped and started as often as is appropriate and may be administered over multiple days. The test administrator will determine the length of each session based on individual student need.


IEPs are annually reviewed and updated to indicate participation in alternate assessments. Participation in an alternate assessment itself is considered an accommodation. However, TCAP-Alt has several additional accommodations that require specific documentation in a student’s IEP in order to be used for the TCAP-Alt. These include:

  • Assistive technology for presentation of items to students
  • Assistive technology for student response to items
  • Paper versions of items
  • Scribe/Transcription
  • Sign Language (e.g., ASL, PSE, SEE)

Most students who use an accommodation as defined in the list above require the accommodation on a daily basis. The vast majority of IEPs for students who participate in the alternate assessment will already include the accommodations as listed above. Accommodation use may be listed in multiple places in the IEP including:

  • Custom Classroom Accommodations (may be used to indicate paper use)
  • Communication needs under the Narratives page (could be used to include Scribe and/or paper)
  • Custom Supplementary Aides

Special Note Regarding Assistive Technology

Many students assessed on the alternate assessment require an assistive technology device to communicate. Students should continue to use the device during assessment. A variety of  assistive technology devices may be used to respond to both selected response and open response item types on the assessment. An alternate keyboard , eye gaze, switch devices, speech-to-text, and other similar input devices are examples of compatible assistive technology devices. Students who require assistive technology to respond to test items must have the assistive technology need indicated in the IEP.

Test Blueprints

The operational test blueprints describe the current design of the TCAP-Alt assessments.

Curriculum and Instruction

The Alternate Assessment Targets (AATs) and Underlying Concepts (UCs) were developed to align to selected Tennessee Academic Standards.  The AATs and UCs were reviewed by Tennessee educators with experience teaching students who have significant cognitive disabilities to ensure appropriateness.

Sample Items

There are no sample items for TCAP-Alt, but the department has created instructional resources called Content Modules. These modules provide instructional support, resources, and best practices for teachers. 

Contact Information

For TCAP-Alt questions, contact