Essential Elements

The Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Essential Elements (EEs) are specific statements of knowledge and skills linked to the grade-level expectations identified in college- and career-readiness standards. EEs build a bridge from content standards to academic expectations for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

The EEs specify academic targets, while the map clarifies how students can reach a specified standard. For each EE, small collections of nodes are identified earlier in the map that represent critical junctures on the path toward the standard. These small collections of nodes are called linkage levels. The fourth level is the target. There are three levels below the target and one above the target. All together, the five levels make up a “mini map” for the EE.

ELA learning maps
Sample Mini Map for ELA

Math Leaning Map
Sample Mini Map for Math

Using Essential Elements in Assessment Development

DLM assessments are tools for gathering information about what students know and can do in relation to the Essential Elements. Each EE is represented in the map by a collection of nodes and the connections among them. The DLM consortium uses nodes that represent EE-related skills at different levels of cognitive complexity to create assessments that are accessible for a broad range of students.