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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
The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, EDUCAUSE Review Online, 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.
- EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Fall Focus Session on personalized/adaptive learning Oct 28 - 29, 2014
- EDUCAUSE Annual Conference - September 30-October 2, 2014
- BMI Convening of Cohort 2 - July 22-25, 2014
- WCET's summit on Designing Alternative Pathways to Credentials (May 2014).
- Competency-Based Learning or Personalized Learning. This U.S. Department of Education topic page includes links to various states and districts putting CBL programs into action.
- Principles for Developing Competency-Based Education Programs. Change Magazine, April/March 2014. Sally M. Johnstone and Louis Soares
- The Degree Qualifications Profile, Lumina
- Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized,Blended and Competency Education, iNACOL, October 2013
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.
Library Items on this Topic
EDUCAUSE Library Items for Competency-based Education (CBE)
- Competency-based Education (CBE)
Competency-based Education (CBE) True The competency-ba…
- A Framework for Interactivity in Competency-Based Courses
August 3, 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…
- Maximizing Competency Education and Blended Learning: Insights from Experts
March 1, 2015
Written by Susan Patrick and Chris Sturgis. CompetencyWorks Issue Brief. In May 2014, CompetencyWorks brought together twenty-three technical assistance providers to examine their catalytic ro…
- Inside Mastery Based High Schools: Profiles and Conversations
March 23, 2015
"We began this project to address a need for concrete examples of mastery-based learning in practice. Given the novelty of this work, we realized that many new school designers know the theo…
- Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on HEA Reauthorization
July 27, 2015
Jen Ortega serves as a consultant to EDUCAUSE on federal policy and government relations. She has worked with EDUCAUSE since 2013 and assists with monitoring legislative and regulatory proposal…
- Competency-Based Education: What We Learned from Experience
July 1, 2015
Author: Mary W. Hendrix, Vice-President for Student Access and Success, Texas A&M University-Commerce Jolene Applegate started her degree in 1976 and was one of the first…
- Vertus Charter School
March 26, 2015
The academic model of this charter high school for boys in Rochester, New York has four pillars: 1) strong relationships, 2) personalized year-round academics, 3) character education, and 4) care…
- Building 21: B21 Philadelphia
March 25, 2015
As a non-selective neighborhood high school in the School District of Philadelphia, B21’s mission is to empower networks of learners to connect with their passions and b…
- Hidden Advantages of the Breakthrough Models Academy
May 13, 2015
Author: Dustin Hilt, Simmons College While it isn’t hard to find plenty of background ( here , here , and here , for example) on the Breakthrough Models Academy (BMA)…
- InnovateEDU: Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School
March 25, 2015
Entrepreneurial learning is the backbone of this Brooklyn charter school network which opened in Fall 2014 to serve grades 6-12, including English language learners and students with disabili…