Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM)

Earning Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM)

"Credit by Demonstrated Mastery" is the process by which a school shall, based upon a body-of-evidence, award a student credit in a particular course without requiring the student to complete classroom instruction for a certain amount of seat time.

Under the state's new Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) option, uniquely qualified students may "test out" or bypass a course if they have already mastered the content.

The program provides another opportunity for students to learn new content, to challenge themselves with the next level of rigor in a subject, and even graduate early. This option is not designed to replace existing accelerated pathways, such as the Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program.

The CDM option is available to all students in North Carolina under State Board of Education policy SBE-GCS-M-001, Section 13.


  • CDM Phase 1 - during the testing window, students take an exam to demonstrate that they have mastered many of the essential standards of the selected course. Students with a score of 90 and above on CTE post-assessments, NC Final exams, and locally developed exams and Level V and above for EOCs will continue to Phase 2. Student results will be shared with students and families as soon as scores are returned from the state.
  • CDM Phase 2 - if eligible to continue to Phase 2, students undergo a local evaluation process to demostrate a deep understanding and knowledge of the content. This evaluation may include compiling a portfolio; creating new artifact(s) such as a written paper or multimedia presentation; giving an oral defense or presentation; and/or participating in an interview. Timelines for Phase 2 completion vary by course, but generally students should expect to complete Phase 2 work within nine weeks. A school-based committee determines the outcome of Phase 2. Results will be shared with students and families.
  • Students must complete and return the CDM Application (in Resources, below) to their school counselor or the AIG Coordinator.Applications drive local development of CDM Phase 1 exams and Phase 2 projects.

Summer 2019 testing window: July 18-31

Students may apply for End-of-Course, CTE, NC Final, and new or existing local CDM exam subjects. Applications due Friday, 5/3.

Fall 2019 testing window: September 17-30

Students may apply only for CTE, NC Final, and local CDM exam subjects which already have established Phase 2 projects; students may not apply for EOC subjects. Applications due Friday, 8/30.

Spring 2020 testing window: mid- to late February, 2020

Students may apply only for CTE, NC Final, and local CDM exam subjects which already have established Phase 2 projects; students may not apply for EOC subjects or for English courses. Application deadline TBA.

Course selection

  • Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Healthful Living, and some Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are not eligible for CDM. A complete list of courses is in the CDM Overview, below.
  • Coming soon: description of TCS CDM Phase 2 projects

How credits will appear on transcripts

  • Students will not receive a letter grade for the course.
  • Students who successfully complete the process will receive a "CDM" result on their transcripts for the course, and will be eligible to enroll in the next level course in that subject area.
  • Students who do not earn the course credit will not be penalized. Results of the assessment process will not be reflected in the student's grades or school transcript.
  • Students may make one attempt to earn credit per course. Retests are not offered.


Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document below for common topics. For all other questions, contact your school counselor, AIG Teacher, or AIG Coordinator Heidi Bullock.


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CDM Frequently Asked Questions

CDM Overview

CDM Process Chart


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