States take on competency based education
- At least five state legislatures have considered bills pertaining to strengthening competency-based education measures in their state, according to a new policy snapshot from Education Commission of the States.
- Competency-based education often appeals to postsecondary adult students, which is growing at a higher percentage than students under 25. Such programs may offer lower costs and allow students to move at their own pace, which can be a boon to nontraditional students.
- Two bills related to CBE were successfully passed so far this year; Virginia passed legislation requiring a state committee to detail competency-based professional development pathways for early childhood educators, while Utah educators will incorporate competency-based learning into their Computing Partnership Grants program.
Cassius O. Johnson, a vice president of organizational strategy and policy at Jobs for the Future who makes a case for apprenticeship support in Inside Higher Ed, notes that millions of Americans remain out of work and 30 million lack a high school diploma or the equivalent. CBE or apprenticeship programs may offer opportunities for both institutions and students; a student without a high school diploma or one who feels like he or she needs more skills training to be competitive in the workplace can pursue a course that does not have the financial strain too often incumbent with a four-year degree education, while colleges and universities can market their institutions and programs to an entirely new group of students they were not previously targeting.
Utah’s legislation mandating a teacher development pipeline for CBE in early childhood education classes is striking, as the transition of CBE from primarily nontraditional older students to K-12 classrooms is still underway. However, K-12 administrators could benefit from looking to aspirational models incorporating the tenets of CBE like the town of Windsor Locks in Connecticut, which will be foregoing letter grades in lieu of tracking students’ mastery of specific skills. K-12 administrators can also take heart in knowing it is likely higher ed will acknowledge transcripts or assessments in CBE, and CBE high school students may be able to effortlessly make a transition into postsecondary CBE programs.
- Education Commission of the States Competency-Based Education