Competency-based education gains traction in Washington, D.C.

In an effort to graduate more nontraditional students faster, the U.S. Education Department will test the idea of awarding student aid based on something other than credit hours. The agency's latest round of "experimental sites" will waive certain Title IV rules to allow participating institutions to award aid for competency-based programs, prior-learning assessments, or programs that blend direct assessment and credit-hour coursework.

This effort coincides with the passage of a bill by the U.S. House of Representatives that would boost competency-based education. The bill would enable the Education Department to flow federal student aid to up to 30 academic programs that want to experiment with competency-based education.

AACRAO’s latest publication, Assessment’s New Role in Degree Completion: A Registrar’s Primer on Prior Learning Assessment and Competency-Based Education, provides an introduction to prior learning assessment and competency-based education, and explores what registrars should consider in their roles supporting institutional adoption of these assessment-focused programs and services.