Schools to implement state-mandated program year early

Apr. 05, 2014 @ 11:51 AM

Orange County Schools plans to work smarter not harder by partially implementing a state mandated program a year ahead of schedule.

Credit by Demonstrated Mastery is a program that will allow students to earn credit for standard level courses without sitting through the class after showing mastery of content through two phases.
The Orange County school board approved the implementation of CDM in Spanish I and II and French I and II for the 2014-15 school year, including $1,468 in stipends for six teachers to develop the necessary assessment over the summer.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction is requiring full implementation across the state by 2015-16 but OCS is taking advantage of the flexibility granted by the State Board of Education, using the 2014-15 year to fine-tune the program and work out kinks.
“This won’t increase a student’s GPA,” Chief Academic Officer Amanda Hartness told the board. “Students can take a faster track to higher level courses. It will help meet the needs of advanced students. This gives the district an option for students who already have that mastery.”
Section 13 of the SBE policy for CDM specifies parameters for mastery in the process. The policy also says that charter schools are not required to participate and that students cannot decide to earn CDM in a course after taking part of it.
OCS officials said that they had not received word from DPI on whether universities and colleges across the state will honor CDM courses.
In OCS, CDM will be available to high school students in most subject areas, with the exception of CTE courses including work-based, those with clinical settings and advanced study courses, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, healthful living required courses, and English language learner courses.
OCS students can apply to earn CDM during any of the three available cycles per school year.
Students earn CDM in two phases. In the first phase, students pass an exam. After passing the first phase, students move on to the second where they create an artifact or product that requires application of knowledge and skills that indicate mastery.
Spanish and French were chosen to pilot CDM because “historically that’s the group where the most inquiries about advancing without sitting through a course are,” said Vickie Smith, director of literacy, professional development and AIG.
The scores for mastery in Phase I include a Level 4 in End-of-Course courses, a 94 or higher in a non End-of-Course course and a 264 or higher in Math 1. Teachers in the various content areas will collaborate to develop the directions and rubric for Phase II and a mastery criteria.
Students can only try to receive Credit by Demonstrated Mastery for any given course one time, but non-passing scores will not be counted against students. They will just have to take the attempted course.
Students who successfully complete both phases will get a “pass” on their transcript for that course, not a letter or number grade.
“This is coming out of a regular education initiative not something for just AIG students,” Smith said. “Parents have to be totally on board so they understand what they’re agreeing to. It’s about asking ourselves ‘how do I support a student getting to a higher level’.”
There will be a CDM contact at each of the district’s high schools available to answer questions and provide information.
“The more options you can offer students, the more public education can meet their needs,” Smith said.
For information, contact Smith at, Claire Porter, director of secondary education at or visit