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Wally Boston competency-based education

Postsecondary Competency-Based Education: Scalable or Not?

Among the many panaceas touted by policymakers to improve graduation rates of adult students, Competency-Based Education (CBE) may be the innovation most often cited but not yet widely adopted. Eduventures’ new study, “State of the Field, Findings from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary CBE,” includes responses from leaders at 500 schools with existing CBE programs or future plans to add them. With approximately 5,300 postsecondary institutions in the U.S., that number represents slightly less than 10% of all providers.

Among the study’s findings:

  • 50% of institutions with CBE programs enroll less than 50 students. Schools were asked what factors either helped the growth of their programs or hindered their growth and the top responses for undergraduate programs were: demand from students, CBE program start-up costs, evidence about CBE programs’ potential to reduce cost for students, and Federal Student Aid regulations and processes.
  • Of these four top responses, program start-up costs and FSA regulations skewed negatively (hindering) and demand from students and evidence about CBE program potential to reduce costs skewed positively (helping).
  • Despite the current low enrollment for many schools, more than 75% of all respondents believe that CBE will grow significantly over the next five years.
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