North Carolina’s Innovative Assessment Pilot


March 10, 2020

Read the full report here.

North Carolina was was the fourth state approved to participate in the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) pilot program under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Districts participating in the North Carolina Personalized Assessment Tool (NCPAT) are free of federal requirements that the same summative assessments be administered in math and English Language Arts (ELA) in grades 3-8 and that all students in the state, with some exceptions, participate in the same statewide assessment.

The NCPAT’s goal is to integrate the state’s previous “NC Check-Ins” into its comprehensive assessment system, with the new system replacing end of grade (EOG) tests for math and English Language Arts (ELA) for grades 3-8.

In its current form, the NCPAT is virtually indistinguishable from the NC Check-Ins from an accountability standpoint, with both iterations consisting of multiple tests throughout the year, with one final end-of-year summative assessment, which will dictate the student’s grade. Ultimately, it is timing and delivery, not content, that are the major sources of innovation between the old and new systems.

There are some important risks and opportunities within the NCPAT.


  • Provide educators with real-time, actionable data that can be used to inform instruction, which could result in higher student achievement
  • Reduce classroom disruptions and boost student motivation by integrating interim assessments with classroom learning


  • Current pilot districts are not representative of the state’s demographics, potentially biasing efforts to establish comparability with existing assessments
  • NCDPI is, at least temporarily, still only using the end-of-year portion for determining students’ scores, meaning they could be wasting resources to do little more than unite two existing assessments under a single name

We advise states use caution in adopting North Carolina’s plan, as they have already been utilizing a very similar version for decades, and have the capacity and knowledge to easily shift their assessment tool into a new version under IADA.

Stay tuned as we continue to analyze state approaches to the IADA pilot program.