Frequently Asked Questions about Alternate Montana Science Assessment
Back FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Alternate Montana Science Assessment

What is the purpose of the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA)?

The Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA) is based on alternate academic achievement standards and is designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The purpose of the AMSA is to maximize access for students with significant cognitive disabilities to the general education curriculum and to ensure that all of Montana’s students are included in statewide assessments and are part of the state educational accountability system. The AMSA is only for those students with documented significant cognitive disabilities and adaptive behavior deficits who require extensive support across multiple settings (such as home, school, and community). Typically, this student population consists of about 1% of the total student population.

How many test components make up the Alternate Montana Science Assessment?

There is a single online test for the Alternate Montana Science Assessment. There is not an additional PT or other separate test component.

Do I need a different secure browser for each online assessment (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA)?

No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assessments online.

Do I need a different TIDE account for MSA or AMSA?

No. TIDE is used for all Montana online testing programs (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA). If you already have a TIDE account, it can be used to administer or work with any of these online tests.

When is the Alternate Montana Science Assessment testing window?

The Alternate Montana Science testing window is scheduled from March 11, 2024, to April 26, 2024. Testing may continue up to and including the last day of the testing window.

Which grades take the Alternate Montana Science Assessment?

Grades 5, 8, and 11.

My student should take the AMSA instead of the MSA. How do I make sure they are eligible to take the correct test?

Ensure that your student’s IEP indicates alternate assessments for all subjects. Alternate science needs to be indicated in the student’s IEP separately from alternate math and ELA. This will create a flag in the student’s record, which should be verified in Infinite Campus. This will be reflected in our student file upload that syncs with TIDE regularly.

What is the Student Response Check (SRC)? Is it required?

Yes, the SRC is required. The student response check should be conducted prior to administering the AMSA to verify student responsiveness. It is designed to evaluate your student’s ability to demonstrate a response. This unscored and content-neutral assessment provides an opportunity to observe and confirm the student's mode of response. The Student Response Check consists of 3 items.

The SRC is available for download on the portal: 

How is the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA) administered?

The AMSA is delivered to students via the online Test Delivery System, which is accessed by using the Secure Browser on an iPad, Chromebook, laptop, or other tablet or computer. The online Test Delivery System will continue to be the default method of test administration for all AMSA eligible students.

What is the Fixed-Form test?

A fixed-form version of the AMSA is available for administration. The fixed-form version of the AMSA is not computer adaptive and is intended to accompany the Alternate Response Options for students who qualify for this accommodation per their IEP.

What is the Alternate Response Option Accommodation?

Alternate Response Options can be requested for eligible students as an accommodation. A PDF of all answer options will be provided to approved students, which can be printed out on-site and manipulated as cards and test visuals. These kits are intended to be used with the fixed-form test.

When using alternate response option materials, the TA must enter student responses directly into the online test delivery system using their own computer or iPad. For more detailed directions, see the Alternate Accessibility Guidelines and the AMSA Test Administration Manual.

To request Alternate Response Option Test Kits for eligible students, TAs must contact the OPI Assessment Help Desk at 844-867-2569 or The Help Desk is open Monday–Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time. In your communication, please do not share any identifying student information via voicemail or email.

What happens if the student is unable or unwilling to respond to a test item?

This assessment has an option of recording “No Response (NR)” to an item if the student does not respond. Full information on recording “No Response (NR)” may be found in the Alternate Accessibility Guidelines. An Early Stopping Rule will be available for students who are non-responsive to the first four items. Students and Test Administrators must follow the administration guidelines as outlined in the AMSA Test Administration Manual.