Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) is a NC State Board of Education Policy (GCS-M-001), passed in 2013, which allows local school systems, using a body-of-evidence, to award a student credit in a course in which he/she has shown “mastery” without requiring the student to complete classroom instruction for a certain amount of seat time.


The State board of Education defines “mastery” as a student’s command of course material at a level that demonstrates a deep understanding of the content standards and the ability to apply his or her knowledge of the material. CDM is a two-phase process. In Phase I, students complete a standard exam (EOC , CTE post-assessment, or final exam) required for the course to show foundational knowledge. If a student meets the minimum required score, then he /she would begin Phase II, which is the completion of an “artifact” to demonstrate deep understanding and the application of course content. A review panel would decide if the evidence from the Phase II artifact does show a deep understanding, thereby earning the student credit for the course through CDM. This would give the student credit towards high school graduation requirements, but would not earn a grade or quality points towards grade point average (GPA).


CDM promotes personalized learning and removes the requirement for seat time for student learning and earning credit for courses so that a student may take a more advanced course in that same subject area or provide time in the class schedule to explore a new topic. It is designed to provide opportunity for an individual student who has an exceptional mastery of course content prior to even taking a course and who wishes to earn credit to move onto something more meaningful for that student. CDM ensures that every student has the opportunity for the most rigorous and appropriate course of study based on academic need.


The CDM process is open to all NC public school students in grades 9-12 in high school courses and in grades 6-8 for high school courses that may be offered in middle school.


The following courses are excluded from Credit by Demonstrated Mastery:
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) work-based learning courses (co-op, internship, apprenticeship)
  • CTE courses that have a clinical setting as a requirement of the course
  • CTE Advances Course Studies
  • English Language Learner (ELL) courses
  • Healthful Living required courses
  • AP/IB courses