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Aurora Institute

What’s New in Higher Education (July/August)

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.22.41 AMJuly

  • Inside Higher Education reports that “The U.S. House education committee on Thursday advanced a package of legislation that would boost federal support of competency-based education, overhaul how cost information and other data is provided to prospective college students, and require more counseling for federal student loan borrowers.” H.R. 3136, Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014 “would reserve $1 million from funding for the Department of Education to authorize the Secretary to select up to 20 eligible entities to participate in demonstration projects related to competency-based education. Competency-based education focuses on measuring student achievement through an assessment of a student’s knowledge and skills rather than by the completion of clock or credit hours.”
  • Blackboard and the American Council on Education (ACE) are jointly investing in research around competency-based education and the use of digital badges in an effort to help institutions better understand how skills-based approaches can help more learners get a college degree and achieve their employment goals, the organizations announced today. The first phase of the research, which is already underway, will create a common vocabulary around competency-based education to enable a broader understanding of the increasingly popular learning approach. The second phase of the research will address barriers to adoption, promote structured dialogue, and help determine the best way for digital badges to record, certify and accumulate evidence of a learner’s achievements. Components of the work will be available in July 2014 and the full findings will be made public later in the year.


  • ACE and Blackboard have created a document clarifying terms in competency-based education in higher education. It would have been a good opportunity to help strengthen both K12 and higher education if we had an opportunity to review the terms. The more we can use the same terms with the same meaning the better off we can be. However there are difference in what is being emphasized across the two sectors and we need to be careful about it.
  • The Economist covers competency education in Got Skills?

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