[Originally published on Inside Higher Ed]
Competency-based education is enshrouded in mystery, but the U.S. Department of Education and regional accreditors are getting closer to defining these programs, according to Paul Fain’s “Defining Competency.”
Both the Department of Education and the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions have built a framework for assessing and approving competency-based courses to provide more clarity for institutions. A particularly confusing topic has been the experimental sites project, which exempts participating institutions from certain rules for receiving federal aid while they try out different educational structures and approaches. The government and the council seem to be working together to shine more light on these subjects (Fain).
The two groups also defined a clearer role for instructors in competency-based education. Instructors need to be accessible to students through email, social media, or different means of communication, which can be difficult for online programs and those that are self-paced. These classes can also have teaching assistants to help assess and grade student performance. Both groups also focus on tracking learning outcomes to help better understand what students learn and retain.
Fain, Paul. “Defining Competency.” Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed, 17 June 2015. Web. 18 June 2015.