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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sparks Fly: Competency-Based Education Catches

Photo: Julian L. Alssid
Julian L. Alssid, Chief Workforce Strategist at College for America writes, "As readers of my blog posts know, I have devoted a large part of my life to proselytizing about making quality and affordable education available to the working adults who need it the most. I do not use the word proselytizing lightly. It has been a constant struggle to get this work to be viewed as fundamental to education reform, not just as a passing trend." 


The effort to create workforce-relevant education has had many incarnations and iterations -- school-to-career partnerships, career pathways, and efforts to close the middle-skills gap, to name a few. While these innovations have resulted in some promising outcomes, garnering the support of policymakers and practitioners alike, they have barely moved the needle. Employers still rage about the skills gap. Our educational outcomes -- particularly for lower-wage workers -- remain abysmal. And, our quality of life is suffering -- the Social Progress Index 2015 ranks the U.S. 16th in the world on that measure.

And, yet, I see a glimmer of hope. With a promising new trend, a little spark has finally caught and is lighting the way for the cause: Competency-based education (CBE), which is designed to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace is taking hold.

Two years ago, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) hired me to help start a competency-based college aimed to support working adults and their employers. SNHU already had a hugely successful online program, but our visionary president, Dr. Paul LeBlanc, had concluded there was also a place for a workforce-relevant liberal arts college. The new effort was to be called College for America
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Source: Huffington Post