Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), includes a new demonstration authority in title I, part B. This demonstration authority, the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA), allows a state education agency (SEA), or consortium of SEAs, that meets certain application requirements, to establish, operate, and evaluate an innovative assessment system, potentially for use in the statewide accountability system. The intended goal of the IADA is to assist States that are interested in fostering and scaling high-quality, innovative assessments in developing proven innovative assessment systems that, after the demonstration authority ends, meet the academic assessment and statewide accountability system requirements under title I, part A, of ESEA.

Applications for the 2018 fiscal year were due by December 17, 2018.

This Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) Spotlight includes an overview of the IADA, highlights from the IADA final regulations, information and key sources regarding the development and submission of an IADA application, and links to States’ applications (if available) and related information.

Information is current as of June 28, 2019.

IADA Overview

In the initial demonstration period, the IADA gives up to seven SEAs, including consortia of SEAs, with the authority to establish and operate an innovative assessment system in their public schools. During this initial demonstration period, up to seven SEAs may participate as members, including those participating in a consortium, which may include no more than four member SEAs. Consortia may include an unlimited number of SEA affiliate members, which are not included in the limitations on the IADA or consortium participants.

The demonstration authority can be granted for general assessments and/or alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS), providing States or consortia with the flexibility to:

  1. Evaluate a new approach for assessing students against the States’ challenging academic standards;
  2. Start small, piloting in a limited number of districts and schools before implementing the assessment statewide; and
  3. Use the innovative approach for accountability and reporting, instead of the current statewide assessment approach, in pilot participating schools during the pilot phase.

A State or consortium should only apply if seeking to do all of the above.



IADA Final Regulations

USED issued final regulations for the IADA on December 8, 2016, to provide clarity to SEAs regarding the requirements for applying for and implementing the IADA. The final regulations also take steps to ensure that SEAs provided with the IADA can develop and administer high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments that measure student mastery of challenging State academic standards, improve the design and delivery of large-scale assessments, and inform classroom instruction, ultimately leading to improved academic outcomes for all students.


In addition to clarifying key definitions, the final IADA regulations revised and clarified SEA application requirements, updated the evaluation criteria for applications, outlined steps that an SEA must take to transition from the IADA to statewide use, and elaborated upon the rules surrounding extensions, waivers, and withdrawal from the IADA.

Definition of Innovative Assessment

The final regulations for the IADA clarified the definition of “innovative assessment system” as a system that:

  • Produces an annual summative determination of each student’s mastery of grade-level content standards aligned to challenging State academic standards;
  • Produces an annual summative determination relative to alternate academic achievement standards for each student with the most significant cognitive disabilities assessed with an AA-AAAS and aligned with the State’s academic content standards for the grade in which the student is enrolled;
  • May include any combination of general assessments or AA-AAAS in reading/language arts, mathematics, or science; and
  • May, in any required grade or subject, include one or more of the following types of assessments:
    • Cumulative year-end assessments
    • Competency-based assessments
    • Instructionally embedded assessments
    • Interim assessments.
    • Performance-based assessments

Additional Definitional Clarifications

Additional definitional clarifications made in the final regulations included:

  • The “initial demonstration period” is the first three years in which USED awards at least one SEA, or consortium of SEAs, innovative assessment demonstration authority, concluding with publication of the progress report described in section 1204(c) of ESSA. During the initial demonstration period, the Secretary may provide innovative assessment demonstration authority to (1) no more than seven SEAs in total, including those SEAs participating in consortia; and (2) consortia that include no more than four SEAs. An SEA that is an affiliate member of a consortium is not included in the application or counted toward the limitation in consortium size.
  • An “affiliate member of a consortium” is an SEA that is formally associated with a consortium of SEAs that is implementing the IADA, but that is not yet a full member of the consortium because it is not proposing to use the consortium’s innovative assessment system under the demonstration authority, instead of, or in addition to, its statewide assessment.
  • The “demonstration authority period” is the period of time over which an SEA or a consortium of SEAs is authorized to implement the innovative assessment demonstration authority, which may not exceed five years and does not include an extension or waiver period. An SEA must use its innovative assessment system in all participating schools instead of, or in addition to, the statewide assessment in each year of the demonstration authority period.
  • A “participating LEA” is a local education agency (LEA) that has at least one school participating in the IADA, and a “participating school” is a public school in the State in which the innovative assessment system is administered under the IADA instead of, or in addition to, the statewide assessment and where the results of the school’s students on the innovative assessment system are used for purposes of accountability and reporting under ESSA. 

IADA Applications

States or consortia that are seeking the IADA must submit a comprehensive application for review. The application includes six categories that applicants must address. The following list provides these six categories, with prompts that reflect some, but not all, of the requirements of the category:


  • Has the applicant collaborated with experts in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative assessment systems?
  • Has the applicant collaborated with the appropriate stakeholders in the State(s)?

Innovative Assessment System

  • Is the administration designed so that each student in the State will be taking at least either the statewide assessment or the innovative assessment in federally required grades/content areas?
  • Are the assessments aligned to challenging State academic content standards, including the depth and breadth of the standards?
  • Are the assessments able to generate valid, reliable, and comparable annual summative determinations, for all students and for each subgroup of students, (1) in relation to the results of the State academic assessments and (2) among participating schools and LEAs in the IADA?
  • Do the assessments provide for the participation of all students and provide appropriate accommodations?
  • Do the assessments provide disaggregated results by each subgroup of students as well as timely data for teachers, school leaders, students, and parents?

Selection Criteria

  • Does the application meet all the requirements and sufficiently addresses all five areas of the selection criteria?


  • Will the State continue to use the statewide academic assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science in (1) all non-participating schools and (2) all participating schools where statewide assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science will be used in addition to innovative assessments for accountability or evaluation purposes?
  • Is the State collecting information to annually report on implementation of the IADA, including information on progress, evaluation results, statewide scaling, student performance and demographics, and feedback from the field and stakeholders?
  • Can the State ensure that participating LEAs inform parents of students in participating schools about the innovative assessment?

Initial Implementation in a Subset of LEAs or Schools

  • Can the State provide a description of participating LEAs and participating schools, including assurance from each participating LEA that it will comply with all requirements?

Application from a Consortium of SEAs

  • Has the consortium developed a governance structure, including roles and responsibilities, a plan for developed intellectual property, and contingency plans for when membership changes?


  • States may propose different models of innovative assessment in their IADA applications, but States proposing more than one innovative model should describe how, over the course of the period of the demonstration authority, they would evaluate the innovative models and select one of those models for possible expansion for statewide implementation.
  • SEAs may apply to receive the IADA on an annual basis.
  • States that are interested in this authority but are unable to implement an innovative assessment in the 2018–19 school year should contact about technical assistance in advance of future application opportunities.


IADA Selection Criteria

Applications are reviewed through a peer review process, including a review of the SEA’s application to determine that it meets or will meet each of the requirements and sufficiently addresses each of the selection criteria, to inform USED’s decision of whether to award the innovative assessment demonstration authority to an SEA or consortium. Peer review teams consist of experts and State and local practitioners who are knowledgeable about innovative assessment systems.

Evaluation criteria include:

  • Project Narrative—Applicants can receive up to 40 points (~33% of total) for providing a narrative overview of their proposed project, including:
    • The rationale for the particular innovative assessment system and an explanation of how the new system will improve student outcomes;
    • The plan for developing and using standardized and calibrated scoring tools; and
    • The plan to scale statewide.
  • Prior Experience, Capacity, & Stakeholder Support—Applicants can receive up to 20 points (~17% of total) for articulating the extent and depth of the applicant’s and its LEAs’:
    • Experience developing and implementing the components of the innovative assessment system;
    • Capacity to implement the innovative assessment system; and
    • Garnered State and local support for the IADA application.
  • Applicants can receive up to 15 points (~13% of total) for providing a reasonable timeline and an adequate budget.
  • In addition, applicants can receive up to 25 points (~21% of total) for developing a plan to provide supports that can be delivered consistently at scale to educators, students, and parents to enable successful implementation and to improve instruction and student outcomes.
  • Finally, applicants can receive up to 20 points (~17% of total) for developing an annual evaluation plan on the IADA implementation.




IADA-Specific Resources & News

IADA-Specific Resources & News (cont'd)