Using Stimulus Funds to Improve Credit Transfer

April 10, 2020

A new paper calls for the next federal stimulus to fund programs aimed at industry-valued skills, effectively creating a parallel higher education system with seamless credit transfer, the ability to pay for student learning outcomes and a competency-based system untethered from the credit hour.

First-time college students who transfer to another institution lose 43 percent of their credits on average, which increases their time to degree, tuition costs, debt load and opportunity costs, write Michael B. Horn, co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute and currently a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, and Richard Price, a research fellow at the Christensen Institute.

To create a parallel system with credit interoperability, Horn and Price said third-party organizations must take on the role of certifying learning. These third-party credentialing organizations would need to be able to offer standards that are specifiable, verifiable and predictable.

"The most likely way forward is for industry-valued credentials to emerge that third-party credentialing and licensing organizations assess and validate when students demonstrate mastery and for which the Department of Education will pay," they wrote. "For this to occur, institutions, businesses, organizations and the military would need to adopt skills-based standards with aligned mastery-based assessments as part of their hiring and promotion and then strongly back those standards."

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