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The competency-based education (CBE) approach allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of environment. This method is tailored to meet different learning abilities and can lead to more efficient student outcomes.

CBE in the News

Defining Competency, Inside Higher Education, June 17, 2015.  DoED and regional accreditors continue to discuss an agreed upon common framework for approving CBE programs.  

The Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning recently announced it will create a competency-based teacher education program. This announcement was covered by Inside Higher Education, Show, Not Tell and NPR, A Vision For Teacher Training At MIT: West Point Meets Bell Labs.

Articles, Papers, Portals and Reports

Competency-Based Education: Technology Challenges and Opportunities, EDUCAUSE Review, October 2015. Growth in competency-based education has been stymied by a lack of software support. The Technical Interoperability Pilot incorporates vendor engagement on finding solutions that work together seamlessly to support the scale and operational integrity required to sustain accreditors' and regulators' scrutiny of CBE programs.

A Framework for Interactivity in Competency-Based Courses, EDUCAUSE Review, August 2015. A proposed course framework helps instructors organize, motivate, and assess online learning while empowering students and easing the instructional burden. Given the right tools and framing of content, the instructor can foster social engagement around course knowledge in competency-based online courses.

The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, EDUCAUSE Review, April 2015. Incorporating competency-based and traditional courses, online and hybrid learning, and lower costs than a traditional degree, the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate lets students save thousands of dollars and semesters of time in obtaining a degree in organizational leadership.

Competency-Based Education: A Framework for Measuring Quality Courses, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Spring 2015. The authors state the purpose of this paper is to provide background and research for a proposed rubric to measure quality in competency-based online courses.

Got Skills? Why Online Competency-Based Education Is the Disruptive Innovation for Higher Education, EDUCAUSE Review Online, November 10, 2014. Online competency-based education can even out the playing field by taking students to the furthest point possible in their learning experiences, regardless of their starting point, race, geographical location, or family income.

Beyond the MOOC Model: Changing Educational Paradigms, EDUCAUSE Review Online, November 10, 2014. Four trends – MOOC-based degrees, competency-based education, the formalization of learning, and regulatory reform – are shifting educational practice away from core tenets of traditional education, indicating not a transient phenomenon but rather a fundamental change to the status quo.

Flexible Option: A Direct-Assessment Competency-Based Education Model, EDUCAUSE Review Online, November 10, 2014. The University of Wisconsin (UW) launched its Flexible Option (UW Flex) direct-assessment CBE model, through which students can earn degrees and certificates from UW institutions. UW Flex focuses on assessment rather than credit hours, letting students undertake academic work at their own pace and prove mastery of required knowledge and skills through rigorous assessments.

7 Things You Should Know About CBE Tools, ELI 7 Things You Should Know. July 10, 2014. As competency-based education (CBE) programs become more prevalent, tools have emerged to support them, ranging from software utilities that enable a single type of student project to complex, custom-built, campus-wide solutions that accommodate multiple degree programs.

All Hands On Deck: Ten Lessons Learned From Early Adopters of Competency-Based Education, WCET. May 2014. This white paper was commissioned for WCET's summit on Designing Alternative Pathways to Credentials (May 2014). The paper provides a snapshot of seven competency-based postsecondary programs, includes valuable lessons learned, and important questions for further exploration.

Competency-Based Education Programs versus Traditional Data Management, EDUCAUSE Review Online, May 19, 2014. This article discusses Initial results from a study of colleges implementing CBE, highlighting timing challenges and emerging practices that can help ensure CBE program success.

7 Things You Should Know About Competency-Based Education, ELI 7 Things You Should Know. February 2014. Competency-based education (CBE) awards academic credit based on mastery of clearly defined competencies. CBE replaces the conventional model in which time is fixed and learning is variable with a model in which the time is variable and the learning is fixed.

K-12 CBE Resources

Grant Opportunities
Competency Definition
Schools and Programs

College for America, NGLC Grantee. Focused on “unconfident learners”—those who are familiar with educational failures, unsure of their abilities, or balancing the demands of work and family—the College for America program of Southern New Hampshire University is a self-paced online associate’s degree program with no courses, no credit hours, no traditional faculty, and no grades, offered at a low student cost. The program encourages mentors in the workplace or the local community; uses a set of key competencies defined, in part, by employers; and connects each student to a coach who helps chart their path through the competencies.

Kentucky Community and Technical College System, NGLC Grantee. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is transforming an existing online program by using linear, competency-based course modules to increase student success, degree completion, and affordability. Students move swiftly and sequentially from one course module to the next without breaks between semesters in the Direct2Degree program.

The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, NGLC Grantee. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), South Texas College, Texas A&M University–Commerce, and the College for All Texans Foundation are launching this new bachelor of applied science (BAS) degree program in fall 2013. The program uses a competency-based, year-round model with flat-rate tuition such that students can work through as many courses within a seven-week period as their schedules allow. Students advance based on showing competency in the subject area rather than hours in class.

NAU Personalized Learning. Northern Arizona University received accreditation approval to enroll students for degrees in computer information technology, liberal arts, and small business administration that will include a flat fee of $2,500 for each six months of unlimited credits and self-paced learning. There are no semesters in the open-entry, competency-based learning program.

University of Wisconsin System, The associate of arts and science degree track is a form of competency-based education called direct assessment, which does not rely on the credit-hour standard. The University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension programs are offering the degree. It's part of the system's broader competency-based offerings, which are dubbed the UW Flexible Option.

Texas State Technical College. TSTC is in the process of recruiting and creating competency-based learning program for their Industrial Systems Technology Program in the field of Mechatronics.



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