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Colleges Propose Ideas for Experiments Using Competency-Based Models

Seventeen higher-education institutions have responded to the U.S. Department of Education’s call last month for ideas in which “experimental sites” could test innovative ways to reduce college costs, with a focus on the competency-based models that have gained traction across the country.

The 17 institutions include some of the best-known supporters of competency-based education, such as Southern New Hampshire University and the University of Wisconsin Extension. Their joint paper proposes experiments such as testing different federal definitions of attendance and satisfactory academic progress, separating the disbursement of federal financial aid from time-based measures such as the credit hour, and making federal aid available to hybrid programs that mix competency-based approaches with traditional ones.

The proposals were released as some groups have recently proceeded with efforts to organize students’ general-education work around learning outcomes, such as the Interstate Passport Agreement, which is being led by the Western Interstate Cooperative for Higher Education.

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