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A group representing the seven regional accrediting agencies has developed a common framework for assessing and approving competency-based education programs proposed by their member institutions. The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, known as C-RAC, released the framework for the emergent form of higher education program late Monday. A news release about the framework notes that there has been relatively little guidance about the characteristics of high-quality programs and the expectations that accreditors and the federal government have for institutions that seek to establish the programs. The Obama administration is soon expected to release its own guidance for competency-based programs that seek approval to operate under the experimental sites program the Education Department has created to allow deviation from certain federal rules.

“The key is to promote this expansion of CBE while also ensuring the quality and integrity of the academic program,” Barbara Brittingham, president of the higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and chair of C-RAC, said in a news release. “Between our statement and the new guidance from the Department of Education, we believe these goals can be accomplished, thereby supporting increased innovation at our member institutions.”