Competency-based education opens new doors

College isn’t what it used to be, and we aren’t talking about professors, football, and frat parties. The cost of a college degree is rising, completion rates are dropping, and student populations are changing.

According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 55 million new American jobs will be created by the end of this decade.  Of them, 40 million – more than 70 percent – will require a college-level certificate or degree. Our higher education system needs new and innovative ideas to meet the changing needs of students and our workforce.

Competency-based education is a different approach to delivering higher education. Instead of requiring students to sit through a preset complement of courses to earn degrees based on the numbers of credit hours they have completed, competency-based models allow students to demonstrate proficiency in subjects or areas of competence, often at their own pace.

Competency-based education represents a tremendous opportunity for higher education and the President and the Department of Education have taken notice, and so should congress.

Competency-based education is one of the few bi-partisan areas of agreement in Washington, members of the executive and legislative branches have expressed interest in these programs. We hope that these experiments will open the door to innovation and allow the Department, institutions and policymakers to see the benefits of better, more-personalized pathways for students while at the same time working to mitigate the potential pitfalls of exposing federal Title IV funds to institutions and providers with new academic delivery and business models.

Our institutions, along with at least another twenty or more colleges and universities, are offering students new competency-based pathways to a degree.  We support the U.S. Department of Education’s interest in fostering responsible innovation and experimentation with these learning models. We believe competency-based models have the potential to meet the needs of students from all backgrounds.

Read the entire article by Jay Box and Paul LeBlanc on The Hill at

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