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Recent Policy View All Policies
September 17, 2014

University of Wisconsin System and UW-Extension Create Flexible Option

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Recent Research View All Research
September 17, 2014

Cracking the Credit Hour

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Featured Champion
Schejbal

The conversation first really needs to happen between higher education and industry sectors, to identify industry recognized and valued competencies. Because it’s industry that’s going to be the employer for these students coming out of [competency-based programs]. Faculty, accreditors, and the Department of Education must be active participants in this conversation, to ensure that there’s broad buy in, a clear direction, and a connection to financial aid.

- David Schejbal, University of Wisconsin-Extension

State Policy Agenda

The State Policy Agenda is designed for state leaders as a guidepost to increase higher education attainment and reach Goal 2025 – to increase the proportion of Americans with high quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60% by the year 2025.  It includes three core elements.  Under each are a set of specific evidence-based policy recommendations.

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Improve student outcomes

Reorienting and expanding the nation’s higher education system around student outcomes is a key step toward increasing postsecondary degree attainment among our working age population.

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Align investments

Systems of higher education are being asked to serve more students and to ensure their success with fewer resources. To succeed, states will need to rethink how they allocate resources to both institutions and students.

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Create smarter pathways

States and their higher education systems and institutions need to create clearer and smarter pathways to degrees for traditional and nontraditional students alike.

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  • The University of Wisconsin Flexible Option

    No time for a degree? Now there's competency-based education.

In the States
Denotes Strategy Labs Network State
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

37.0%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 41.3% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

33.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 39.5%
National Goal: 60% by 2025

Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Lawmakers set aside 20% for nontraditional students when Arkansas created its merit-based scholarship program.
Re-enroll Adults with Some College and No Degree
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

29.3%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 36.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Arizona allows students to complete three years at a community college and finish their degree at a university campus during the fourth year.
Develop Lower-Cost Pathways to Degrees
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

36.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 41.4%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Arizona's Goal: Increase the percentage of adults with bachelor's degrees to 29-30% by 2020

39.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 44.0% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
California’s Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (2010) makes a student who completes an associate degree for transfer at a community college eligible for transfer with junior standing into the California State University (CSU) system.
Adopt Statewide Policies to Guarantee Transfer
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
In 2012, Colorado lawmakers enacted SB 12-045, which provided for the reverse transfer of academic credits
Re-enroll Adults with Some College and No Degree
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

47.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 52.9% National Goal: 60% by 2025 Colorado's Goal: 66% by 2025

47.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 53.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

38.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 42.7% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Florida State University (FSU) Degree Mapping is an academic advising and monitoring system that provides an eight-semester map for each major field of study and a plan for graduating within four years.
Adopt Guided Pathways
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

38.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 44.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Gov. Nathan Deal released a plan for a needs-based college scholarship for low-income students in middle school who meet high academic standards and maintain clean disciplinary records.
Implement Comprehensive Financial Aid
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

37.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 43.3%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Georgia's Goal: 60% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

42.6%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 47.4%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Hawaii's Goal: 55% by 2025
Under the new reverse credit transfer agreement, community college students who transfer to Iowa’s public universities can submit their University credits toward completion of an associate degree.
Adopt Statewide Policies to Guarantee Transfer
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

41.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 51.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

36.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 40.9%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Idaho's Goal: 60% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Illinois' Monetary Award Program is a need-based grant program that requires credit hours for eligibility.
Implement Comprehensive Financial Aid
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

42.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 49.6%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Illinois' Goal: 60% by 2025

34.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 41.1%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Indiana's Goal: 60% by 2025
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

41.3%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 47.6% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Kansas' Goal: 60% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Kentucky was an early adopter in setting goals and developing state and institutional plans for improvement.
Develop a Plan
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

31.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 39.5% National Goal: 60% by 2025 Kentucky's Goal: 37% by 2020

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Louisiana set a 120-credit-hour limit for four-year degree programs and a 60-credit-hour limit for associate degrees.
Enact Credit Caps

29.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 34.5%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Louisiana's Goal: 42% by 2025

50.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 56.1% National Goal: 60% by 2025 Massachusetts' Goal: 60% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

45.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 51.8%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Maryland's Goal: 55% by 2025
At least 55% of Maryland’s adults (ages 25 to 64) will hold at least an associate’s degree by the year 2025—one of Maryland’s attainment goals.
Set an Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

39.0%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 45.0% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

37.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 43.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Minnesota is one of only a few states that prorate financial aid based on a maximum semester course load of 15 credits, instead of 12.
Implement Comprehensive Financial Aid
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

47.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 56.6%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Missouri partnered with Western Governors University to create a state-approved, online, competency-based option for students.
Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

36.6%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 43.6%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Missouri's Goal: 60% by 2020
Mississippi’s Education Achievement Council developed benchmarks to increase degree attainment of Mississippi’s working age population to the national average by 2025.
Set an Attainment Goal
Prior Learning Assessment
State or System-Wide Policy on PLA: No
Public 4-Year Institutions Accepting PLA Credits (Fall 2012): 33%
Public 2-Year Institutions Accepting PLA Credits (Fall 2012): 22%

View 50 State Data on Prior Learning Assessment

Learn how states can Award and Recognize Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment

31.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 37.8%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Mississippi's Goal: National average by 2025
Montana has set a goal to reach a target of 70% (68 percent budgeted for 2011) of expenditures spent on instruction, academic support and student services.
Reach a Consensus on Needed Financial Resources
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

39.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 46.7%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Montana's Goal: 60% by 2020

38.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 45.4%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
N. Carolina's Goal: 37% by 2025
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

45.6%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 54.8% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

43.0

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 50.6% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

46.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 53.4% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

45.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 52.9% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

35.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 39.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

30.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 34.9% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

45.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 52.4% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
City University of New York created its Pathways initiative in an effort to streamline and clarify transfer and general education requirements across the system.
Adopt Statewide Policies to Guarantee Transfer
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Ohio's performance funding is focused on course and degree completions, with different formulas for each sector.
Adopt and Sustain Outcomes-Based Funding
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

36.5%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 43.3% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Oklahoma's Promise offers scholarships to 8-10 graders that expire after 5 years, giving students incentive to attend full time.
Develop a Plan
Prior Learning Assessment
State or System-Wide Policy on PLA: Yes
Public 4-Year Institutions Accepting PLA Credits (Fall 2012): 40%
Public 2-Year Institutions Accepting PLA Credits (Fall 2012): 53%

View 50 State Data on Prior Learning Assessment

Learn how states can Award and Recognize Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment

32.9%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 38.0% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

39.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 45.5%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Oregon's Goal40-40-20% by 2025
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Pennsylvania requires all community colleges and universities to identify a minimum of 30 credits that would be guaranteed to transfer between them.
Adopt Statewide Policies to Guarantee Transfer
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

39.7%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 47.3% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

43.2%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 49.6% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

36.1%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 43.5% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

39.6%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 46.6% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Tennessee's outcomes-based performance funding drives all state dollars to institutions solely on the basis of outcomes.
Adopt and Sustain Outcomes-Based Funding

33.3%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 40.2% National Goal: 60% by 2025 Tennessee's Goal: 55% by 2025  
Grad TX is a program designed to recruit adults who have prior college credits, work experiences but no college degree.
Re-enroll Adults with Some College and No Degree
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

34.6%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 39.0%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Texas' Goal: 60% by 2036

41.4%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 47.0%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Utah's Goal: 66% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act sets an ambitious goal for an additional 100,000 degrees over the next 15 years. It's also focused on improving college affordability and promoting innovation in higher education.
Set an Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

45.3%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 53.0% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

47.0%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 54.1%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Vermont's Goal: 60% by 2020
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs
Washington drafted a statewide policy for prior learning assessment and for transcribing PLA credit.
Award Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

42.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 47.4%
National Goal: 60% by 2025
Washington's Goal: 70% by 2023
UW FlexOption, a lower-cost, flexible program enables more adult learners to earn degrees in targeted fields.
Re-enroll Adults with Some College and No Degree
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

40.9%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 48.5% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
West Virginia's  PROMISE Scholarship encourages degree completion by requiring students to complete 30 credits per year.
Develop a Plan
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: No

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

27.8%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 34.3% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal

37.0%

College Attainment Among Adults Ages 25-64
2025 Projected Attainment: 41.9% National Goal: 60% by 2025
Set an Ambitious Attainment Goal
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Institution(s) Involved in National CBE Initiative: Yes

View 50 State Data on Competency-Based Education

Learn how states can Ensure Availability of Competency-Based Programs

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