By Thomas K. Lindsay
College students and their parents find it increasingly difficult to cope with tuition hyperinflation and historically high student-loan debt. Over the last 30 years, the average tuition for a U.S. bachelor’s degree at a traditional four-year college increased more than 15 times faster than the average household income in the United States. Students who borrow graduate with an average of $27,000 in student loans. Student loan defaults slow economic growth by limiting access to credit, stifling entrepreneurship, and reducing long-term buying power.
In an effort to address this crisis, we at the Texas Public Policy Foundation commissioned Goldman Insights (Joseph Goldman, Phoebe Long, and Lillian Leone) to study of the possibilities of an alternative to traditional higher education—competency-based education (CBE). Under CBE, students earn their degrees by demonstrating their skills and knowledge in required subjects through a series of assessments. As with traditional education, they take tests and write papers; unlike traditional education, CBE degrees do not focus on “seat time” or credit hours. Rather, CBE degrees aim to certify that all its graduates are competent in their fields at or beyond a specific standard. Competency-based bachelor’s degree programs offer an alternative for nontraditional students who may not have the time or resources to complete a four-year program yet still desire a rigorous, meaningful education.
In order to develop a robust understanding of different fields within CBE, we analyzed graduates of three different competency-based programs in teaching, nursing, and organizational leadership. CONTINUE READING HERE