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Public Agenda, a nonprofit organization, recently surveyed faculty, staff and administrators at colleges that offer competency-based credentials. The group found wide agreement on what makes a strong competency-based program. Key elements include clear program competencies, meaningful assessments and learner-centered programs that prepare graduates to enter the workforce.

For example, the survey found that 94 percent of respondents said assessments must give "substantive, meaningful feedback." Respondents also said competency-based programs should be accessible to students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Turning those goals into reality isn't easy, however. The survey found, for example, that only 69 percent of respondents had fully adopted meaningful assessments.

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