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The U.S. Department of Education Is Inviting New Applications for Round 3 of the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority

Education Domain Blog

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will release a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the third round of the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) on Monday, October 28. The NIA is now available for public inspection on the Federal Register at:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created the IADA, which allows participating states to pilot innovative new systems of assessments in a subset of school districts before scaling state-wide. States may apply on their own or as part of a consortium of up to four states.

Key Dates:

  • November 27, 2019: States are asked to submit a notice of intent to apply to ED. The notice of intent is non-binding, but will help ED to plan ahead for technical assistance and peer review activities.
  • January 27, 2020: Application deadline at 5 pm

To apply, visit:

State Pilots Already Approved under the IADA

Currently, there are four states piloting innovative assessments under ESSA, and the U.S. Department of Education may approve up to three more. Following are summaries of the IADA pilots already underway in New Hampshire, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina.

New Hampshire 

In the fall of 2018, New Hampshire was granted an Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority to continue its PACE (Performance Assessment of Competency Education) program. In the beginning, only whole districts could use PACE. Now individual schools can apply to the New Hampshire Department of Education to take part. Approximately 10,000 students in grades 3 through 8 take the PACE exam. PACE gives teachers the flexibility to determine who takes the exam, when it is taken, and where it is taken. To ensure that teachers are prepared and qualified to leverage this flexibility, New Hampshire is prioritizing assessment literacy for educators and is working with the Center for Assessment to give professional development for educators doing this work. The assessments are made at both the local and the state level, with some common exams that teachers in all pilot districts create together and then, all pilot districts must administer to students. While districts are given the flexibility to determine when students take the exam, participating schools and districts must submit an assessment schedule that outlines when the exam will be given. New Hampshire highlights many opportunities under the PACE program from educator involvement in creating the exams, high-quality professional development around assessment literacy, and the amount of data and feedback that both teachers and students receive from the embedded assessments throughout the year.


Louisiana’s proposal to pilot an innovative assessment was the first to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Louisiana proposed a new English Language Arts assessment called LEAP 2025. This assessment would test all grade 7 students in a pilot district. The assessment consists of five units, and a district is required to teach three of the units, of which one unit is state-mandated. The other two required units are chosen at the discretion of the district. Some pilot highlights include:

  • Integration: Students take three formative tests throughout the year, including three end-of-unit assessments and then one end-of-year essay question.
  • Equity: Teachers are focusing on developing background knowledge so that no student is at a disadvantage due to lack of life experiences.
  • Local control: Local school districts continue to decide which books are used during instruction and which assessments students take.


In May 2018, Georgia passed SB362, which established the state-level assessment pilot and was subsequently approved under the IADA by the Department of Education. Georgia has three state-approved pilots, NAVVY, Cobb Metrics, and GMAP, all piloting in separate districts and regions across the state. NAVVY began in rural Georgia with 10 districts implementing it, and now it has 17 districts in the consortium. The two main goals of the assessment are to provide immediate data and reclaim instructional time. NAVVY is built to assess each student’s competency on each standard of each unit in every grade. Educators have flexibility on when students are tested, and each student receives three opportunities to demonstrate competency. This serves two purposes. Each time students are tested, the school gets formative information on students’ mastery, the teacher is empowered to personalize lessons for student learning and accountability. Students must demonstrate competency within three tries, or students will not receive credit. Educators also receive data in real-time; as soon as students are done with the exam, teachers have access to the students’ results. Georgia is considering three approaches to collecting and reporting summative scores:

  • Report the percentage of standards for which students demonstrated competency
  • Weighting the standards, potentially based on importance, to yield a weighted percentage achieving competency
  • Keep the high-dimensional, multivariate profiles of competencies intact and see how they map onto the current state achievement levels

North Carolina

North Carolina was recently approved for the innovative assessments pilot program. The North Carolina Personalized Assessment Tool (NCPAT) will rely on the use of a customized, end-of-year assessment for each student. The customized assessment will include test questions to measure a student’s achievement and will be a response to that student’s scores on formative assessments taken during the school year. North Carolina plans to begin piloting the test in the 2020-2021 school year.

Technical Assistance and Resources Available for Advancing Next-Generation Systems of Assessments

In August, Scott Marion of the Center for Assessment posted a blog that addresses some of the common challenges states face in developing their IADA applications, Being Innovative Under ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority: An Innovator’s Hope. Marion makes the case for “commit[ing] ourselves to assessment innovations that support rather than hinder efforts to reform our teaching and learning systems.”

In January 2018, iNACOL held a webinar, The Innovative Assessment Pilot: A New Opportunity for States and Districts to Collaborate in Developing Next Generation Systems of Assessments. The archived webinar provides an overview of the IADA’s requirements and application process.

Want to learn more? Contact us or our partnering organizations. States can learn more about the new flexibility in ESSA and action steps states can take to develop new assessments through the following resources:

Learn more:
For more information, contact:

Maria Worthen, Vice President, Federal and State Policy  | [email protected]

Natalie Truong, Policy Director | [email protected]

Alexis Chambers, Policy Associate | [email protected]