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‘Credit by Demonstrated Mastery’ Coming To Watauga County Schools, School Board Approves Monday

By Jesse Wood 

March 11, 2014. The Watauga County Board of Education approved an initiative on Monday night for advanced students to earn course credit if they demonstrate – without classroom instruction – a “deep understanding” of subject matter, according to Watauga County Schools spokesman Marshall Ashcraft.

The initiative is called “Credit by Demonstrated Mastery” and won’t be implemented until 2014-15 school year for student placement in 2015-16. 

In a multi-phase assessment, the student must take an exam “demonstrating foundational knowledge” during the first phase, and the second phase consists of a student artifact demonstrating application of the knowledge.

Ashcraft said that while this initiative has come down from the state level, local education systems have autonomy to create the testing mechanisms because, as of yet, there is no state standard. 

According to a presentation by Meredith Jones, director of middle and secondary education at WCS, “Credit by Demonstrated Mastery” was adopted:

  • To ensure students have personalized learning in public schools to optimally grow and have effective seat time to learn new content
  • To ensure there is a clear process for earning course credit without seat time or traditional learning experience 
  • To respond to needs of students, families, AIG community, school personnel and leadership

The presentation noted that this initiative is not intended for the “masses” but for highly-advanced students. Ashcraft said that this initiative would be open to middle schoolers and high schoolers.  

“Most if not all would come from the high school level. Some might be in middle school,” Ashcraft said, adding that it’s conceivable that a middle school student could do so well in Algebra One without taking the course to receive credit. 

“It’s still an evolving concept at this point,” Ashcraft said. 

According to the presentation slide, implementation of the initiative will involve:

  • Sharing overviews with stakeholder groups
  • Beginning work through WHS Curriculum Committee 
  • Reviewing procedures and policies related to implementation

See the presentation slide in the meeting’s agenda here