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Bipartisan Bill on Competency-Based Education

June 12, 2017

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week would create a demonstration project for competency-based education programs. The project would grant statutory and regulatory flexibility to participants, such as in the application of federal financial aid rules, while also creating new requirements aimed at accountability and transparency.

Co-sponsors of the proposed legislation are Luke Messer, a Republican from Indiana, and Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat. Both serve on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The House passed a similar bill in 2014, but the U.S. Senate did not follow suit.

Dubbed the Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2017, the proposed legislation would require an annual evaluation of each competency-based education program in the project to measure quality, student progress toward degrees and their ability to pay off loans and find employment after graduation. It also would require accrediting agencies for participating institutions to set standards for competency-based education.

Information gleaned from the project could be used by Congress as it seeks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which is the law that governs federal financial aid.

"Nowadays more and more college students are older, returning for a degree after years in the work force and pursuing their studies while working full-time simultaneously," Polis said in a written statement. "That’s why with the input of forward-thinking schools, like Colorado State University Global, this legislation will allow more students to get credit for what they know, rather than how much time they spend in the classroom."

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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