Susan, a single mother of two, has been a drug counselor for 8 years. While Susan has certification, she does not have a bachelor's degree. Due to recent rule changes, she must attain this degree in order to keep her job.
Although she has years of experience and significant continuing education credits, none of these translate into credit towards a degree. With little time to spare in her long days, Susan can't enroll full time in traditional college coursework.
Susan is far from an anomaly. There are many other stories like hers from students and young professionals across the country. For these individuals, our traditional higher education model - in which learning is measured by the time a student spends in class - is not working. Our country's higher education system must function more effectively for people like Susan, and we're helping it do so.
In late April, Public Agenda helped facilitate the launch of the Competency-Based Education Network, or C-BEN, an initiative funded by Lumina Foundation.
C-BEN is a group of institutions working to share learning and address common challenges as they design and develop competency-based degree programs and related delivery models. (Competency-based education, in short, measures learning by students' ability to demonstrate competency on different measures, rather than the time they spend in a class. Read more here.)
During the C-BEN launch, the initial cohort of colleges involved in this initiative met over 2 days in Arizona to kick off an initial round of research and development. These 18 institutions and 2 statewide higher education systems will work on cross-institutional teams to explore topics like program design, communicating about competency-based education, and business processes and systems.
Following this first 90-day research cycle, the institutions will reconvene to share what they've learned and prepare for the next round of research. Additional working sessions have been scheduled for July in Washington, D.C., and October in Nashville, Tenn.
We are excited to help these schools connect and experiment in unprecedented ways. As Alison Kadlec, who is leading Public Agenda's work on this initiative, put it: "This network is an opportunity for higher education institutions to collaborate in ways they never have before on challenges they all share."