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Aurora Institute

Collegiate Endorsement of Proficiency-Based Education and Graduation

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Modernize HEA

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 1.56.25 PMWe all know higher education plays a big role in designing and institutionalizing competency education, including alignment of admissions policies, increased access to competency-based dual credit courses, and teacher preparation, as well as building competency-based systems within their own organizations.

We are starting to see higher education formally take on this responsibility.  Here are two examples (and let us know what is going on in your state):

1) Today, March 22 at the High School Redesign in Action Conference, 25 institutions of higher education in New England have formally endorsed proficiency-based education. These institutions include:

  •  Castleton State College
  •   Community College of Vermont
  •   Johnson State College
  •   Lyndon State College
  •   Vermont Technical College
  •   Granite State College
  •   Keene State College
  •   Plymouth State College
  •   Great Bay Community College
  •   Lake Region Community College
  •   Manchester Community College
  •   Nashua Community College
  •   New Hampshire Community College
  •   River Valley Community College
  •   White Mountain Community College
  •   University of New Hampshire
  •   University of Maine – Augusta
  •   University of Maine – Farmington
  •   University of Maine – Fort Kent
  •   University of Maine – Machias
  •   University of Maine – Presque Isle
  •   The University of Maine
  •   University of Southern Maine
  •   Husson University
  •   Thomas College


Below is the text of their endorsement:

Joining other institutions of higher education and the New England Secondary School Consortium in support of stronger academic preparation for postsecondary study, leading to increased collegiate enrollments and higher completion rates in our degree programs, we, the undersigned:

1.    Endorse proficiency-based approaches to instruction, assessment, reporting, and graduation that establish universally high learning standards and expectations for all students in K-12 schools.
2.    Accept a wide range of student transcripts if they meet our stated admissions requirements and provide a full and accurate presentation of what an applicant has learned and accomplished.
3.    Pledge that all applicants to our institutions with proficiency-based transcripts will not be disadvantaged in any way.

This endorsement recognizes that strong educational preparation benefits our students, our faculty, and our institution, and toward these ends we strongly support proficiency-based teaching practices, assessments, report cards, graduate decisions, and other strategies that can increase students preparation for higher education, modern careers, and lives of active, informed citizenship.

2) In Maine, the New England Secondary Schools Consortium is working with admissions directors from five colleges to design a proficiency-based transcript that can be used by districts across the entire state. In addition to addressing parental concerns about how colleges will respond to competency-based education and institutionalizing competency-based “grading”, it also will increase the all-important seamlessness we need between higher education and K-12 education so that students can begin to advance to higher levels of education when they are ready.

You can tell that the New England Schools Consortium, coordinated by Great Schools Partnership is playing a catalytic role.  Certainly, the state department of education can play this role in your state but with all the worries about top-down mandates it helps a lot if an intermediary organization can facilitate voluntary approaches to coordinated systemic alignment.